Seventy-eight candidates will run for freeholder positions in November, including several who hold elected office.
Skagit County will vote on 21 freeholders — seven from each county commissioner district — in the Nov. 6 general election.
On that same ballot, voters will be able to decide whether to create a county charter. If approved, the freeholders would write the charter.
If a charter is written and approved, it could bring structural changes to county government.
Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said he decided to run to be a voice for more accountable county government.
“I think power is too concentrated (in the three county commissioners),” he said.
Sexton will run against former county Commissioner Sharon Dillon.
“If change is happening, I’d want to be a part of it,” she said.
As a commissioner, she said she was elected by people from Burlington to Newhalem, and that district was too large and diverse in interests for one person to represent.
If a county charter is written, Dillon said she would advocate for a larger governing board, so more people feel represented.
Further, a three-member board means any meeting of the commissioners would be a quorum and subject to public meeting laws.
“That limited us in the capacity to discuss things,” she said.
State Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, said he opposes the county charter process and wants to run to be a voice for the current system.
“It’s a cliché, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” he said. “I want to be a firewall against radical change.”
The former Sedro-Woolley mayor said he had a good experience working with county government, saying it is efficient and functional. He said he didn’t have a problem with the size or composition of the board.
“If you open it up, you could improve it ... but you could make it really, really bad,” he said.