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Four Island County candidates stress jobs, taxes, safety

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By Gale Fiege
Herald Writer
  • Candidates for Island County Commissioner, Dist. 2.
Top row, left to right, Jim Campbell and Phil Collier.
Bottom row, left to right, Angie Homola a...

    Candidates for Island County Commissioner, Dist. 2. Top row, left to right, Jim Campbell and Phil Collier. Bottom row, left to right, Angie Homola and Jill Johnson.

COUPEVILLE -- Island County Commissioner Angie Homola was honored this spring by the Washington Association of Counties for her bipartisan work to set the association's legislative priorities.
It isn't as easy at home, where the one-term Democratic commissioner from District 2 and her colleague, tea party Republican Commissioner Kelly Emerson of Camano Island, don't fare so well together.
Homola is running for re- election, challenged on the primary election ballot by independent Phil Collier and Republicans Jim Campbell and Jill Johnson, all of Oak Harbor. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Homola says that she could have an uphill race, though she is confident in her abilities to continue the job.
"During my first term, we experienced the worst recession in the history of Island County. We cut costs by 20 percent and improved efficiency while taking steps to avoid financial collapse and earning an improved bond rating," she said. "I am running for re-election because it takes time to gain the necessary job knowledge to make well-informed decisions. Going back to the 'build or bust' fiscal model that my opponents propose doesn't support local businesses and doesn't protect our quality of life."
If re-elected, Homola said her priorities would be attracting living-wage jobs; providing services for seniors, veterans and children; protecting water, open space and beach access; preserving farm, forest and resources; and streamlining regulations for land-use planning.
Campbell is running to better represent the people of Oak Harbor on the board of commissioners, he said. Campbell would like to reduce taxes but fund safety, justice and the county's infrastructure. The city councilman said he is concerned that Homola is an environmental proponent to the detriment of property owners.
"The solution to all of this is to have the county commissioners get both sides together and have an adult conversation and then come up with a solution where nobody gets hurt," Campbell said. "I talk to citizens all the time and have a standing coffee klatch during which people can sit down and talk. I would continue that."
Collier, a longtime Oak Harbor business owner, said his many years in business have made him a fiscal conservative, and he believes conservation and job development go hand-in-hand.
"Over the past three years, I have seen a lot of taxpayer dollars wasted on environmental projects that made no sense. We need to balance our budget conservatively and stick to conservation only," Collier said. "Because of high freight costs, we cannot be a place for manufacturing, so we need lobbyists to go to Apple, Microsoft and other high-tech corporations and encourage them to move here where the cost of living is cheaper, the schools are better and the way of life is easier."
Johnson, head of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Campbell that the county needs more focus on Oak Harbor. She wants support for public safety services without increasing the sales tax and government that is more focused on collaboration with taxpayers, she said.
"This isn't a sexy time to be in government. It's about priorities and choices. Do we need more trails or do we need law enforcement? Our business community needs to have a voice and our regulations need to be easier to understand," Johnson said. "The District 2 commissioner needs to understand the people of Oak Harbor."
Island County ballots should be out in the mail to voters around July 17 and are due back by primary election day Aug. 7.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427;

What's the job?
At stake is a four-year term as the Island County Commissioner for District 2, the greater Oak Harbor area of Whidbey Island. The annual salary is about $78,500. The board of commissioners has three members who direct all county government.

Meet the candidates
Jim Campbell
Residence: Oak Harbor
Age: 76
Party affiliation: Republican
Experience: Currently serving sixth year as Oak Harbor City Council member. Retired Lockheed Martin manager. Navy veteran.

Phil Collier
Residence: Oak Harbor
Age: 55
Party affiliation: Independent
Experience: Has owned Hilltop Auto Service for 37 years, through three economic recessions.

Angie Homola
Residence: Oak Harbor
Age: 52
Party affiliation: Democrat
Experience: Current District 2 County Commissioner. Architect, machinist, carpenter, owner of small business, Navy wife.

Jill Johnson
Residence: Oak Harbor
Age: 41
Party affiliation: Republican
Experience: Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce executive director. Experience in marketing.
Story tags » Camano IslandClintonCoupevilleFreelandLangleyOak HarborWhidbey IslandLocal elections

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