PORT ANGELES —After saying for nearly a year she would resign, elected Clallam County Treasurer Selinda Barkhuis made it official last week, quitting Friday, a year before her term expires.
In a one-sentence resignation letter Thursday to county commissioners, Barkhuis cited “health issues resulting from work-related stress” for leaving a position that she has held for seven years. Her present term would expire in November 2018.
She did not specify her health issues or the work-related stress she cited.
“It’s been stressful, that’s why I left them,” she said Friday evening in a telephone interview.
County Administrator Jim Jones said Barkhuis has been pledging for three weeks at meetings that she would resign as of Friday.
Commissioners will discuss appointing Deputy Treasurer Teresa Marchi as acting treasurer at their work session at 9 a.m. Monday and are expected to act on the appointment at their regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Jones said the process of the commissioners replacing Barkhuis with a person to fill out the remainder of her term could take about a month.
Commissioners first will name a committee to screen applicants from whom the board will name a replacement to the job, which Jones said will pay between between $75,000 and $85,000 a year.
For nearly a year, Barkhuis has declined to elaborate on the health issues that have led to her not completing her term and continued to do so Friday.
She has cited those issues since February when she announced her impending resignation without giving a date.
When she made the announcement in February, she described her frustration with a job in which “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.”
Barkhuis made it official at a county Finance Committee meeting Thursday, where she invited everyone there to a party on Friday.
Barkhuis elaborated on her future plans Saturday in an email.
“My plans include a lot of yoga and bike riding, gardening with ducks, writing a book, and involving myself with the local bar association,” she said, adding that the organization elected her as president for 2019.
“My main accomplishment as treasurer is that on Friday, December 15, I was able to turn over liquid and safe in the county treasury every penny of the almost $99.5 million in public funds that were in my ‘own possession’ (until disbursed according to law) pursuant to RCW 36.29.020,” she said.
“This turn over of $99.5 million in safe and liquid funds was witnessed by Mark Ozias, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and Shoona Riggs, County Auditor, among others, as evidenced by their signatures on the ‘Delivery and Receipt of Public Money in the Treasurer’s Possession’ document that accomplished this turn-over.
“As to the book, time will tell.”
She said in the interview Friday that she would not sue the county over the work-related stress that she has repeatedly cited.
She also has, during her term, cited a hostile work environment that she has encountered while serving as treasurer.
“I love Clallam County,” she said Friday. “I care deeply about the people in it.
“I have absolutely no interest or whtaever in going after the taxpayers of Clallam County.
“I have defended their rights vigorously.”
Barkhuis was elected in 2010 over incumbent Judy Scott, who was treasurer when then Treasurer’s Office cashier Catherine Betts was found guilty in 2011 of embezzling $617, 467 to $795,595 in real estate excise taxes from the Treasurer’s Office that were never recovered in a scam employed by Betts from 2003-2009.
Scott, who tightened procedures in the office, was defeated by Barkhuis, who further strengthened those procedures.
Barkhuis, who defeated Scott 51 percent-49 percent, won re-election unopposed in 2014.
She has repeatedly feuded with county commissioners, Jones and Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.
She called for Jones’ ouster in 2016 for a series of actions dating to 2013 and took a medical leave of absence after a dispute with the 2015 board of commissioners over the disbursement of $1.3 million in Opportunity Fund grants.
Barkhuis also made multiple claims that commissioners created a hostile and threatening work environment, and said Jones also created a hostile work environment.
She also had alleged in November 2015 that Nichols had evidence that unauthorized or excessive county Veterans’ Relief Fund payments had been made to a Peninsula Daily News reporter.
Rich Sill, county human resources director and risk manager, said Nichols never had such evidence.
Commissioners’ Chairman Mark Ozias praised Barkhuis on Saturday for her service, citing her for her informative financial reports.
“Selinda has taken her job very seriously and has provided a great service to the citizens of the county,” he said.
“The work that people do at the county is often very complicated and everyone, or most everyone who works there is pretty serious about it.
“It’s something that can be difficult and is something that can cause hard feelings, and certainly that happened over the course of time in this case.”
Barkhuis, he added, “has been an advocate for the people of Clallam County, and I appreciate the work she has done very much.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].