Opinion

Editorial

"Island County residents came out fine in the election that was certified without any fanfare last Wednesday. While the nation's attention was riveted on the mess in Florida, our own Auditor's Office staff did their usual fine job of taking their time to count the ballots fairly and accurately. It is unfortunate that public servants usually receive attention only when something goes wrong, and seldom receive credit when things go right, as they usually do.Island County and the 10th Legislative District decided to send two incumbents back to Olympia. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, thanks to the Democrats' thin advantage in the Senate, will continue to chair the Transportation Committee which is vital to our interests as ferry-dependent islanders. Her opponent, Norma Smith, ran a top-notch campaign. If she chooses to stay in politics, she could have a bright future.In the House, Rep. Kelly Barlean won an easy victory over John McCoy, another promising newcomer to politics. Barlean, a Langley Republican, built up a solid base by serving his constituents rather than preaching the party line. His even-handed approach to issues is obviously appreciated by the electorate.In the other House position from the 10th District, it's too bad that Dave Anderson, the Democrat from Clinton, was denied another term in office. He was a great asset to South Whidbey particularly and provided a strong voice for the environment in Olympia. But we can't be disappointed in his successor. Barry Sehlin, R-Oak Harbor, did a fine job in his previous three terms before temporarily retiring from politics. Voters obviously remembered that, and we can expect more of the same when Rep. Sehlin beings his next term in January.In Island County, there weren't any surprises in the commissioner races. Mike Shelton was rewarded for a job well done with another four-year term. On North Whidbey, Mac McDowell held on to his seat. His challenger, Republican-turned-Democrat Lynne Wilcox, couldn't shake the party-switcher label and ran a curious campaign in which she tried to make crime a major issue. Still, she received 48 percent of the vote. That might send a message to McDowell that he needs to broaden his appeal outside the staunchly pro-growth Oak Harbor community.Island County also had a special interest in the race for U.S. Senate. Slade Gorton, who spends as much time as he can at his Mutiny Bay summer home, appears to have lost to Democrat Marie Cantwell. A recount this week will settle the race, but in all likelihood Gorton has lost.Whatever one's politics, all should agree that Sen. Gorton did a fine job for Island County during his many years in the Senate. He procured money for NAS Whidbey and Ebey's Prairie, and lent his support to many smaller efforts, such as keeping Langley's post office downtown. His presence in the Senate will be missed. "

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