Commissioner will delegate vote for state senate appointment

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson won’t vote on a state senate appointment, but the county won’t lose a vote in choosing a candidate.

Commissioners from Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties are meeting Friday to interview and select an appointment to the state senate seat vacated by Oak Harbor resident Barbara Bailey, who is a Republican.

Republican precinct officers from the 10th Legislative District picked three candidates and will submit the prioritized list to the commissioners. The district is comprised of Island County and portions of Skagit and Snohomish counties.

The top candidate is Ron Muzzall of North Whidbey, followed by Christine Cribb of Oak Harbor and Sara Hyatt of Stanwood.

Price Johnson, a Democrat who lives in Clinton, announced earlier this year that she will run for the state senate seat in next year’s election.

In an email, she explained that she researched what the right thing to do would be in a situation where she may be helping to choose her challenger in the election. Her goals, she said, are to fulfill her duty as a county commissioner and ensure that voters have faith in the fairness of the selection process.

As a result, she said she will participate in the interview process and then step aside when a vote is taken. She will assign her vote to be divided between the other two Island County commissioners, Jill Johnson and Janet St. Clair.

“This fulfills my role as a commissioner while removing any potential suspicions about the integrity of the voting process,” she said.

Under state law, each county gets three votes in the appointment process. Since the boards in Island and Skagit counties have three commissioners, each commissioner gets one vote. But Snohomish County has five members on the board of commissioners, so they each get 3/5ths of a vote.

The meeting for the appointment process is at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Skagit County commissioners’ office. It is open to the public.

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