By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
COUPEVILLE — Incumbent Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson appears to have persevered in her bid to retain the District 1 seat representing south Whidbey Island. Price Johnson, a Democrat who grew up on the island, is the first woman commissioner in county history.
“There are still quite a few votes to come in, but the results thus far show that the voters clearly wanted to retain balanced and collaborative leadership,” Price Johnson said. “It was a good campaign, a cordial one for me, and I thank my opponent for that.”
Price Johnson was challenged by retired naval officer Jeff Lauderdale, a Republican. In the primary election, which eliminated a handful of other candidates, Price Johnson collected more than twice as many votes as Lauderdale.
In the county’s District 2, incumbent Commissioner Angie Homola, also a Democrat, did not fare as well. On Tuesday, early election returns showed Republican challenger Jill Johnson, the executive director of Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, leading by about 2 percentage points. In the primary, Homola also trailed Johnson, but by little more than 1 percent of the vote.
All Island County voters elect representatives to the Board of County Commissioners in the general election. The three-member board also includes District 3 Commissioner Kelly Emerson, who represents Camano and north Whidbey islands. Emerson, a Republican, campaigned against her fellow commissioners.
Homola and Price Johnson were criticized by their challengers after the economic collapse more than four years ago nearly took the county to the brink of bankruptcy. Republicans said they didn’t do enough to provide a friendly environment for business or fund the sheriff’s department adequately. The Democratic incumbents defended their records, arguing that the county dealt with the economic recession by cutting budgets and retaining essential services.