Strow seeks to replace Shelton

COUPEVILLE – Veteran Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton is leaving office, and state Rep. Chris Strow is among those lining up to succeed him.

Shelton, a Republican from Langley whose term runs through 2009, announced Monday that he will step down Aug. 31 in order to move to Olympia to be the executive director of the Washington Counties Insurance Fund.

Within hours, Strow, a Republican from Freeland, declared he would apply for the appointment to succeed Shelton and finish the unexpired term.

Strow is a representative of the 10th Legislative District, which takes in all of Island and portions of Snohomish and Skagit counties. He’s been in office since 2005.

“Going home at night and being with my baby daughter” is part of his motivation, he said.

Another reason is a desire to serve people more directly, and that can best be done from the local rather than state level, he said.

By Tuesday, Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair of Coupeville and Reece Rose of Clinton had also expressed interest in the commission seat.

Sinclair has served as auditor for 10 years.

“I have enjoyed my long service with Island County and think there are issues facing Island County that I am better qualified to deal with,” she said Wednesday by phone from North Carolina, where she is representing the state at a national conference of county auditors.

Rose lost to Shelton in the 2004 GOP primary. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

State law dictates that Shelton’s replacement be chosen from the same political party.

As a result, the selection process begins with the Island County Republican Party and ends with a decision by the other two county commissioners, Democrat John Dean and Republican Mac McDowell.

Republican precinct committee officers will be polled on the candidates. Names of the top three vote-getters, in the order of the results, will be sent to the commissioners.

Traditionally the person with the most votes is selected.

If Dean and McDowell disagree, Gov. Chris Gregoire would decide who gets the job, which pays roughly $76,000 a year.

No decision will be made until after Shelton leaves office.

He was first elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He pondered running for state office but never did.

“Local government above all other forms of government keeps you very accountable to those you serve,” he said.

“When you do something that people agree or disagree with, you’re going to hear about it from people at the post office and the grocery store. I like that accountability,” he said.

He said he was proud of votes to modernize the county with new and renovated buildings without raising taxes. He said he’ll be glad to vote to raise the county sales tax a tenth of 1 percent to fund new mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

Though his tenure has been marked with controversy and criticism, he said he always found it exciting.

“It’s been a great ride,” he said.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

A family of four escaped a fire in their home's garage without injuries Saturday night in Brier. (South County Fire)
Brier family escapes harm after fire in garage

The two-story house in the 22800 block of Brier Road had an estimated $150,000 in damages, per South County Fire.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney in a video decries an erosion of public safety and increase in brazen criminal behavior. (Screenshot)
Snohomish County sheriff, chorus of local leaders decry policing reforms

Criminals are getting more brazen, they said. In a video, they called for easing vehicle pursuit rules and stiffening drug laws.

Attorney Michael Andrews, left, and Kyle Brown listen to the judge's address Wednesday afternoon at the Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on September 21, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville ex-youth minister gets community service for sexual assault

Kyle Brown, of Marysville, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation last month. In 2019, he was charged with molestation.

On Aug. 30, Everett police posted this photo to Facebook seeking tips about an alleged fatal hit-and-run. (Everett Police Department)
Woman arrested in hit-and-run death of Everett pedestrian

Patricia Oman, 80, was walking on Broadway when she was hit. She died four days later. The alleged driver was held on $100,000 bail.

A worker maneuvers a front-end loader around a gigantic pile of garbage Friday, April 29, 2022, at the Airport Road Recycling and Transfer Station in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As trash piles shrink, Snohomish County cancels Sunday closures

Transfer stations and drop boxes will be open for regular hours. But a ban on dropping off yard debris is still in effect.

Amber Weaver, who has worked at the Lakewood Crossing Starbucks for 5 years, with her daughter Melody, outside of her workplace on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Complaint accuses Starbucks of anti-union threats in Marysville

Meanwhile, a mother of two said Thursday that Starbucks refused to accommodate her schedule when she returned from maternity leave.

An aerial view of the proposed site for the Faith Family Village Project pallet homes for families on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Pallet shelter village for 8 families gets permit in Everett

Faith Family Village will house and provide services for 90 days, through city and federal funding.

Crews from Washington State Department of Transportation continue to clear debris from U.S. 2 earlier this week. (Inciweb)
U.S. 2 to reopen Monday as Bolt Creek wildfire calms

The move comes two weeks after the fire north of Skykomish prompted the highway to close.

(Snohomish County)
County executive lays out blueprint for $85M in federal relief

Dave Somers wants to use one-time pandemic aid on housing, child care and behavioral health in Snohomish County.

Most Read