The six-person race for Island County commissioner is now down to five.
Coupeville resident Gary Wray, a Republican, said this week that he’s dropping out of the race and endorsing Curt Gordon, an Independent candidate who lives in Clinton. Wray’s name will still appear on the ballot for the Aug. 4 primary, but he’s asking voters to choose Gordon instead.
Wray said he decided to bow out in order to dedicate his time to housing issues.
Wray is a member of the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board, he’s chairman of Habitat for Humanity for Island County and he’s a board member for the state Builders Association.
Wray said he’s long wanted to become a member of the county’s planning commission but was never appointed.
“I will be able to concentrate on housing without the rest of the duties of commissioner,” he said.
“When it comes to housing and the shortage of housing in the county, all we ever do is talk about it, but nothing ever gets done,” he added.
Wray said he believes that Gordon’s motivation for running for office is to improve county government for the citizens and that he will be able to get things done.
Wray said he respects Gordon for running as an Independent candidate, but he also acknowledged that it’s difficult for a non-party-affiliated candidate to get elected when many people vote party lines.
“It’s hard to get elected as an Independent, but I think he can do it,” he said.
Also, Wray said the election already got ugly this year and he wants to avoid that side of politcs.
Neither Wray nor Gordon are strangers to politics. Gordon ran for county commissioner in District 1 — which covers South and Central Whidbey — unsuccessfully twice before. He’s currently a commissioner for the Port of South Whidbey.
Wray ran for county commissioner four years ago but lost to Helen Price Johnson, who’s running for state senate this year.
Other candidates running for the seat are Ed Jenkins, who has no party affiliation, and Democrats Melanie Bacon and Nathan Howard.