Opinion

Editorials

"Shelton, Wilcox for commissionerIsland County voters can steer a steady, new course toward the future by selecting Mike Shelton and Lynne Wilcox for county commissioner on Nov. 7, or whenever they mark their absentee ballots.Shelton, a Republican from Langley, is seeking his third term on the three-person board of commissioners. Overall, he's been an outstanding commissioner, always there when needed to help acquire park land, find scarce funding for youth and health programs, or as a good representative of Island County in state matters. He's in line to chair the Association of Washington Counties this year, a position he no doubt will use to try to get the county more money to deal with those unfunded state mandates he rightly complains about.While conservative, Shelton is no ideologue. Some of the heat he has taken for growth management planning was caused by the other two commissioners he served with. Shelton has been more of a help than a hindrance to the planning process, building trust and respect with all sides in the often-emotional land use issues. And he believes in the art of compromise, without which government cannot function.Shelton's opponent, William Rowlands, doesn't even have the support of the Democratic party he claims to represent. Although his interest in the environment is genuine, he should not be taken seriously as a candidate.Lynne Wilcox, a Democrat, is seeking to oust Republican Mac McDowell from the commissioner's chair he has held for almost eight years. Wilcox is bright and enthusiastic with a long history of private business and ranching on Camano Island and North Whidbey. Although she lacks direct experience in government, she has what it takes to step in and learn quickly.McDowell is a good manager but represents Island County's past when development was the number one priority. With McDowell, it still is. But the county has changed dramatically, even in the years since he was first elected. It is laughable that McDowell is campaigning this year as a champion of the state Growth Management Act. He only got serious about implementing it in Island County when the state threatened sanctions that could have stifled development.Wilcox realizes that the county, due primarily to certain statewide initiatives, is going through perilous budgetary times. It doesn't take a Mac McDowell to realize that every penny needs to be watched closely.Shelton's presence on the board of commissioners will provide the steady, experienced hand that is needed in a leadership role. Wilcox's presence will show that Whidbey Island has changed, that the environment and effective land use planning are our citizens' top priorities as we enter the 21st century on Jan. 1, 2001.Retain Haugen, Anderson, BarleanWhidbey Island has been well served by the trio we've been sending to Olympia in recent years as our 10th District representatives.Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat from Camano Island, for years has been a voice in the Island County political wilderness, calling for meaningful growth planning, adequate transportation spending, and effective environmental protection. While a variety of county commissioners and state House members have tried to undermine those efforts, Haugen has hung tough. Without her, Island County would be a far less pleasant place to live.Haugen's opponent, Norma Smith, a Clinton Republican, shows a lot of promise with her enthusiasm and the experience she gained working for Congressman Jack Metcalf on a variety of federal issues. But she chose the wrong race to begin her own political career. Haugen, with her long record of achievement and position of influence in Olympia, is too big an asset to trade in for a novice, no matter how promising.For the State House, Republican incumbent Kelly Barlean, a Langley resident, has done an outstanding job representing his district during two busy years in office. He helped save the Coupeville game farm property, the Goss Lake DNR forest, and generally steps in boldly to fight for his constituents, who always take priority over the party line. His opponent, Democrat John McCoy, is a good man, but Barlean has earned the right to continue his political career.Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, is seeking a third term in the 10th District's other House position in Olympia. Anderson has been an outstanding representative, often following his principles to the detriment of his political career. He believes there is such a thing as too much growth, and that if we can't handle it we shouldn't have to accept it. Those are fighting thoughts in the development community, but Anderson represents the feelings of most islanders. His hands-on experience in helping restore the environment, and his scientific background, can't be duplicated by his opponent.Anderson's opponent, Oak Harbor Republican Barry Sehlin, once served effectively in the House. Then he decided to run for Congress, but he dropped out and decided to run for the state House again. It makes you wonder how much he really wants it. And his campaign theme that he can get things done in Olympia rings hollow compared to the enthusiasm and expertise Anderson brings to the job. "

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