Breakaway county presents its sheriff, auditor, coroner
By BRIAN KELLY
ARLINGTON — Supporters of Freedom County swore in a sheriff, a coroner and an auditor before an enthusiastic crowd in the side dining room of an Italian restaurant Monday night.
"We’re not trying to set up our own little dynasty," said Thom Satterlee, one of three commissioners for the county that lacks official recognition by Olympia and elsewhere.
Satterlee, who believes Freedom County was created five years ago when 12,000 or so north county residents signed petitions to create the breakaway county, conducted the swearing-in ceremony for the three new officials.
But first, he tried to dispel the notion that Freedom County doesn’t exist. Satterlee said the group’s efforts were legitimate, despite media reports to the contrary.
"They’ve tried to brand me as some sort of whacked-out extremist," he said.
More than 50 people packed the side dining room at the Rome Ristorante and Lounge in downtown Arlington for the occasion. Satterlee sat at a table in front flanked by two flags; an American flag on the left, and another flag with the stars replaced by the words "Freedom County" in a circle. In between Old Glory and it’s recent revision stood the state flag, George Washington’s eyes staring at the emergency exit.
A framed map of Freedom County sat perched on an easel to the left, and Satterlee’s pizza got cold as he fielded questions about the new county for more than an hour.
Smoke, laughter and the faint lyrics of a Tom Petty song — "give it up, stop!" — drifted in from the restaurant’s lounge as the meeting began.
But given the sentiment of the crowd, the tune’s title, "Don’t Come Around Here No More," was more aptly aimed at Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart.
Satterlee mused the county’s creators might be shot by Bart or end up as political prisoners in Snohomish County Jail as their attempts to put their new county government in place got under way.
"We have the mandate of the people," Satterlee said.
"We’ve become a government; we are a government. We represent your needs," he said. "Our duty is to protect and maintain your individual rights."
Satterlee said Freedom County would respond better to the needs of those who live within its rural boundaries. Snohomish County government takes but does not give, he said.
"A lot of us are sick and tired of having our wallets plundered on a daily basis," Satterlee said.
"Government has to be accountable to the people. That’s all we’re saying," Satterlee said.
Supporters say the county is made up of about 1,000 square miles, almost half of the land comprising Snohomish County.
Satterlee, who said he became a commissioner on the bus ride to deliver the petitions to the state capital in April 1995, swore in the three men and told the audience they would serve interim, one-year terms.
He introduced Fnu Lnu as the county’s new sheriff, and presented Lnu with a billfold containing Freedom County identification papers after he took his oath of service.
Bob Westphal, a 61-year-old Stanwood resident, was sworn in as Freedom County auditor.
Satterlee then gave an oath of office to Duane Felix, 63, of Lake Goodwin. Felix will be Freedom County’s interim coroner.
Each man took the oath without a single "so help me, God." Instead, each pledged to let his conscience be his guide in upholding the state constitution. After each oath, the crowd responded by giving each man a standing ovation.
Not everyone was impressed, however.
Daniel Anderson, an Arlington city councilman, said the city wasn’t interested in becoming the county seat for Freedom County.
Wearing a T-shirt with a red slash and circle over the words Freedom County, Anderson was quickly surrounded after he questioned Satterlee. Supporters tested the councilman’s knowledge of the state constitution.
Lnu, 57, said after the meeting that he was an FBI agent from 1969 to 1978. A resident of the Lake Goodwin area, Lnu said he was the vice president of a security company after he resigned from the FBI. In the early 1980s, Lnu said, he ran two taverns in Snoqualmie, a small town in the Cascade foothills.
Lnu said he also ran a limousine service in Kirkland and was a world-class poker dealer in Las Vegas.
He changed his name to "Fnu Lnu" — a law enforcement acronym for "first name unknown, last name unknown" — five years ago.
Lnu was scheduled to meet with Bart this morning. He was looking forward to a productive meeting.
"I don’t want to go head to head with him," Lnu said. "It wouldn’t do anybody any good."
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