Loney successor chosen

Jim Johnson has taken over for retired Commissioner Gregg Loney.

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WALLA WALLA -- A Walla Walla businessman has been chosen to fill a vacancy on the Walla Walla County commission.

Jim Johnson, one of three finalists for the Position 1 seat, was named by commissioners Perry Dozier and Greg Tompkins during a regular meeting this morning. Johnson was sworn in at 11 a.m. by District Court Judge John Knowlton.

Commissioners picked Johnson to replace former Commissioner Gregg Loney, whose last day in office was Monday. Loney announced he was resigning earlier this year due to stress-related health issues.

Loney was in the final year of his second term and the seat was up for re-election this year. Johnson will serve until the results of the November election are finalized, at which time the winner of the election will take the seat.

Johnson and two others, Eric Carpenter and Mark Spinks, were chosen after the Walla Walla County Republican Party Central Committee met April 19 to select the three finalists to replace Loney.

Tompkins said he and Dozier had met in executive session prior to the start of today's meeting to evaluate the three nominees. He said his and Dozier's deliberations were based on the rsums forwarded by the Republican Central Committee, interviews conducted with the candidates April 9 and on their overall qualifications for the job.

After being named to replace Loney, Johnson thanked the commissioners. "I appreciate the confidence you have shown in my appointment," he said. "I vow to do everything I can to serve the citizens ... I'm humbled by the opportunity to serve."

According to state law, because the seat is a partisan position and Loney ran as a Republican, the county GOP Central Committee was charged with forwarding up to three names to the county commissioners as possible replacements.

Once the seat became vacant, the two remaining commissioners had up to 60 days to choose a replacement. If they had not been able to agree, the choice would have gone to the governor.

Johnson has announced he intends to run for the Position 1 seat in the November election. The filing week for candidates will begin May 14.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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