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Washington selected to fill Flynn’s shoes

The Kitsap County commissioners unanimously appointed Walter E. Washington on Wednesday to replace Karen Flynn, who retired as county auditor this week.

“We had three exceptional candidates,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer. “They all had their own strengths and I would like to keep them all connected with the county. But Walt is the candidate that makes the most sense. He will bring us the same quality of service and leadership that we are accustomed to from Karen.”

Washington was chosen above two other candidates, Poulsbo attorney Sara Lingafelter and former Kitsap County Director of Administrative Services Deborah Broughton.

All three commissioners complimented all three candidates, but took about eight minutes to announce and approve the decision.

Washington, 61, said he was encouraged by the support he received from people he didn’t know during his short campaign to replace Flynn.

“This represents an apex of all the things that have happened in my life,” he said. “And having so many people who didn’t know me promising their support was very moving.”

At his swearing-in Wednesday morning by Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof, Washington said, “I feel like I am in high school and have just found out that all the girls like me.”

He added that he looked forward to working in Kitsap County “where the commissioners talk to you and do all the things necessary to make good government.”

It didn’t wear off, as the next day he sent an e-mail stating, “I feel I should be pinching myself to make sure I’m alive.”

After leaving the meeting to tell Washington of the appointment, Bauer returned and announced “From a productivity standpoint, Walt‘s first day was a failure, with all the screaming and yelling over there.”

Flynn retired after serving just more than half of her elected term, which was to expire in January 2011.

Washington will serve until January 2009, and must run in a special election this fall to complete the full term. Washington has indicated he will run in this election and now hopes to serve a second elected term.

“A lot of people don’t know what the auditor does,” Washington said. “They think the auditor is just someone who makes sure that the books balance. But the biggest part of what we do is manage elections, and make sure it is a seamless process.”

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said Washington was the best choice because of his experience — he served as Flynn‘s chief deputy since January 2007 — and this is especially crucial during an election year.

“This is the first presidential election that is being conducted by mail,” she said. “It’s important to have someone who has the experience and qualifications needed to make it run smoothly.”

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