Clallam County treasurer announces plan to step down

Clallam County Treasurer Selinda Barkhuis

Citing health concerns caused by work-related stress, Selinda Barkhuis announced Tuesday, Feb. 14, that she intends to step down as Clallam County treasurer at an unspecified date.

Barkhuis, who was elected in 2010 and ran unopposed in 2014, made the announcement in the county commissioners’ meeting.

“I’m sorry to hear this news,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said.

Barkhuis read a statement to the board, saying in a later email that she would have nothing to add.

Here is Barkhuis’ full statement:

“1. Due to health reasons resulting from work related stress, I have identified a need to transition out of this position. I find myself physically and mentally no longer able to function as Clallam County’s public ATM, where powerful people get to push my buttons until I cry uncle and I spit out the money regardless of my opinion as to whether such disbursements are ‘according to law,’ consistent with my oath of office and fiduciary responsibilities.

“2. I am not quite ready to give notice. Instead I am giving you a heads up on what’s going on in my head so that you can start considering how to identify and vet a successor Treasurer willing to assume signature authority and fiduciary responsibility over $100 million in Clallam County public funds, subject to long lists of mandatory and essential duties, personal liabilities, financial predators, and political sociopaths.

“3. I want to take this opportunity to make it clear that I do not intend to involve myself in educating and vetting potential candidates, that interested parties should instead contact the Board of County Commissioners directly as it is entirely your responsibility to identify and appoint a successor.

“4. What I will henceforth focus my attention on, beyond taking care of my health and working with my staff, is preparing a settling business report that will account for the taxpayers’ public funds and outline the various challenges facing the Office of Clallam County Treasurer, to be presented to the public, the Board of County Commissioners, and my successor when I am ready to leave.

“5. I have no next step to offer the Board of County Commissioners at this point.”

Ozias thanked Barkhuis for her service to Clallam County and its citizens.

“I would expect that I and the board will do what we can to support you and to support the organization through this transition,” Ozias said.

“Thank you for providing us with a notice ahead of time so that we can be as intentional as possible moving forward.”

Commissioner Randy Johnson echoed Ozias’s remarks, telling Barkhuis: “You have to take care of your health regardless of anything else.”

“Any way we can help in that regard, please let us know,” Johnson said.

Commissioner Bill Peach added that “the priority with regard to your health is something that we should be as county commissioners considering in any of the transition plans.”

“But we do have your health in our interest,” Peach said.

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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