Island County Republicans have selected three possible candidates to replace former commissioner Kelly Emerson for the District 3 seat.
Emerson gave a one-week notice May 5 and filed to run for Kitsap County Auditor last week.
With the sudden vacancy, state statute requires that the resigning commissioner’s party — in this case, the Republican Party — put forth three people for selection by the remaining commissioners.
Richard Hannold of North Whidbey, and Marc Hennemann and Aubrey Vaughn of Camano, were selected at an Island County Republican Party meeting Tuesday, according to party Chairman Tim Geist.
Geist said the names were submitted in alphabetical order without ranking them according to vote totals in order to avoid influencing the commissioners’ decision.
The Republican Party recognized that Emerson’s resignation might be a possibility when her husband, Ken, took a job in Kitsap County late last year. In addition, rumors swirled that she might resign, causing individuals in the party to approach Geist about the “three names,” he said.
“There was an understanding that it was a possibility,” Geist said. “I had enough information to think about what I would do. As it worked out, we had the three candidates we needed.”
Fellow Republican Commissioner Jill Johnson said she had heard rumors as early as last fall from reliable sources within the party that Emerson was going to resign. But when Emerson did not resign at the end of the year, Johnson assumed the rumors were false.
The appointed commissioner will take office immediately. If the commissioners cannot agree on an appointee, the decision will be punted to the Governor’s Office.
All three selected candidates have filed to run for the seat in November. Republican Kelly Bagley also has filed to run for the office. Bagley’s son, Michael Bagley, also asked to be considered for the appointment, but said he did not want to run for the office in November, according to Geist.
Johnson, who serves as board chairwoman, confirmed Wednesday that she had received a letter from the Island County Republican Party naming the three candidates. Johnson said it is her hope that she and Commissioner Helen Price Johnson can schedule the public interviews as soon as possible to restore stability to the county.
Johnson said that questions for the candidates will be solicited from the public before the interviews occur and then will be asked by the commissioners.