Four candidates are vying for a seat on the Skagit Regional Health Board of Commissioners that will be vacated by Commissioner James Hobbs.
The four — Dale Ragan, Jay Bowen, Linda Eiford and Brian Hill — will be on the upcoming August primary ballot.
Ragan, who served four terms on the Mount Vernon City Council, said his background in government and business make him a strong candidate.
“Hospital management is very intense,” he said. “They don’t work on a profit motive; they work on a cost reduction motive.”
He said he’d been involved in the Skagit Valley Hospital Foundation for 27 years and has managed Karl’s Paints and Art Supplies in Mount Vernon for about 30 years.
Bowen, a local artist and former member of Skagit Regional Health’s Community Outreach Committee, said if elected he wants to be an advocate for expanding mental health services, and is interested in creating a dedicated mental health campus.
He said he would make the hard-working staff of the hospital a priority, and would fight to make sure they have good salaries, benefits and fair working conditions.
“Employees need to be well taken care of and supported by the administration,” he said.
Eiford, the former director of Skagit County District Court Probation, said she learned about prudent spending of public money while working for the county.
“I’m really conscious of spending, making sure you’re a good steward of taxpayer money,” she said.
If elected, she said she wants to be a voice for expanding access to healthcare for people who can’t or don’t know how to get it.
“Working in probation, you see the needs of the people,” she said. “They need medical care, alcohol (addiction) treatment, mental health treatment.”
Hill said he believes the board of commissioners is too beholden to profit to consider what the public wants.
“I’m just concerned about the way things are going,” he said. “It’s long past time the people of (Mount Vernon) have a say.”
He said money spent on expensive new equipment, like the robotic surgical system the hospital purchased in 2018, should have been redirected to provide better wages and benefits for nurses and other staff.
“I’m not happy with the disrespect the board gives to the unions,” he said.
The primary election will be held Aug. 6. The top two vote-getters will then advance to the Nov. 5 general election.
Ballots for the primary will be mailed July 17.