Skagit County: Candidates flood the freeholder ballot - 86 vie for slots that may determine area's future

Skagit Valley Herald


Skagit County, WA - A whopping 86 candidates, including many county political heavyweights, filed for 21 positions this week, making the position of freeholder the most sought-after title on Skagit County's fall ballot.

The winning candidates will be the people charged with considering whether to change the current system of county government, which has been in place since statehood. Whatever the freeholders come up with would be submitted to voters for a yes or no vote before any changes are made.

Among the candidates are three Mount Vernon City Council members, plus one member who recently left the council when she moved; former Sheriff Ed Goodman; two members of the county's planning staff; Sedro-Woolley's police chief and city attorney; one former county commissioner; and Larry Wasserman, the environmental services director for the Skagit Systems Cooperative and perhaps the current county commissioners' foremost nemesis.

But it's possible that none of them will be elected.

Voters will be presented with two questions concerning the proposed county charter process on the Nov. 4 ballot:

Should the charter process proceed?

Who should be the freeholders?

If a majority votes no on the first question, then the second becomes moot just like in California's gubernatorial recall election.

But if a majority votes yes, then 21 people, seven from each of the county's three commissioner districts, will become freeholders. And that's when the work begins.

The freeholders will be charged with investigating new forms of government and coming up with a proposal to be submitted to voters. That proposal could make minor tweaks to the current system or make sweeping changes.

It's also possible that nothing could be presented at all.

At least a few freeholder candidates hope to block the process, said Curtis Johnson. Johnson is a La Conner-area farmer, a candidate for freeholder and co-chair of Citizens to Oppose Charter Government.

If the opposition group wins enough races, the freeholders could choose to stop the process dead in its tracks, even if a majority of voters want the charter process to proceed.

So far, the money is behind the opposition.

The group supporting the charter, the Skagit County Home Rule Committee, has raised $2,214 since June, according to documents filed with the state's Public Disclosure Commission.

By contrast, Citizens to Oppose Charter Government has raised $6,101 in just the past two weeks. That includes a $1,000 donation from the Skagit-Island County Builders Association's political action committee.

The opposition group was hastily putting together a slate of candidates this week, making sure to cover all the bases, but a list of the group's nominees wasn't available Friday evening.

The charter proponents, on the other hand, decided not to organize a slate of candidates at least not officially.

"We are a nonpartisan group, and we are looking for people who are knowledgeable, intelligent and open-minded to run as freeholders," said Richard Pitt, co-chair of the proponents' group. "We would like to see all factions represented, because that's the only way the charter will be crafted to be acceptable to all factions."

Despite that, Stoney Bird, a member of the group and freeholder candidate, was able to point to eight candidates who are members of the group.

The following people have filed to run as freeholders in Skagit County.

If a proposition to begin the charter process passes on Nov. 4, then seven people will be elected from each of the county's three commissioner districts. Then those people will begin putting together a proposed charter, which would be submitted to voters.

District 1
Position 1: Richard J. Bergner, Wayne Everton, Curtis E. Johnson and Ronald Shrigley.

Position 2: Eron Berg and Ed Goodman.

Position 3: Paul A. Carr, Sarah Huntington, Jerry Kaufman, Kendra Smith and Thomas H. Solberg.

Position 4: Lloyd Loop and Steve Sakuma.

Position 5: Brian D. Gentry, Robert Hart and Barry Schaeffer.

Position 6: Martin Burwash, Thomas Henry, Della Newman, Shane Sanderson and Larry Wasserman.

Position 7: Ann Marie Humphreys, Tony Kubena, Steven Omdal, John H. Stephens and Bob Taylor.

District 2
Position 1: Tom L. Bolser, Brad Furlong, Brian Rolfson and Jill Rouw.

Position 2: Stoney Bird, Mike Minor and Dale Ragan.

Position 3: Larry Anderson, David Boon, Joe Bowen, Joyce Chriest and April Walker-Axthelm.

Position 4: Abraham Gonzalez Jr., Dee Raudebaugh, Richard H. Smith and David Wall.

Position 5: Alex Free, Mark L. Hulst, Larry Libby, Debra L. Lisser, Curtis Miller and Tom Slocum.

Position 6: Erna Berguys, John Cheney Jr., Don E. Gordon and Kurt Lang.

Position 7: Glenn C. Ash, Gary Chrysler, Ken Coffman, Tammy L. Gohl and Allen Rozema.

District 3
Position 1: Scott Babbitt, Will Honea, William R. McCann and Wm J. Shuler.

Position 2: Brandon L. Black, Jim Kubbs, Kevin Loy, Audrey Smith.

Position 3: Leonard Halverson, Patrick M. Hayden, Jeff Skodje and Robert "Woody" Woodson.

Position 4: Lisa Janicki, Jim Meyer and Paul Vance.

Position 5: Stan Brookings, Dan Davis, Geraldine M. Hofer, Nancy B. Johnson, Clarence B. Jones and John Swapp.

Position 6: Dave Cooper, Tarn Mower and Brock D. Stiles.

Position 7: Don Bockelman, James Cook, Jack de Yonge, Karl Murphy and Nathan R. Salseina.


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