Barkhuis to quit as Clallam treasurer; she gives no date, cites stress

Selinda Barkhuis

PORT ANGELES — Citing health concerns caused by work-related stress, Selinda Barkhuis announced Tuesday that she intends to step down as Clallam County treasurer.

She left the departure date up in the air.

Barkhuis, who was elected to the non-partisan position 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. (See http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Barkhuis-Statement for the full statement.)

“Due to health reasons resulting from work-related stress, I have identified a need to transition out of this position,” Barkhuis said.

“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.”

Barkhuis said she was “not quite ready” to give notice of her departure.

“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,” she said.

Barkhuis emphasized that she did not intend to help educate or vet potential replacements.

Those interested in the position should contact the commissioners, as it is the board’s responsibility to identify and appoint a successor, she said.

“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,” Barkhuis said.

“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.”

Commissioners Bill Peach and Randy Johnson echoed Ozias’s remarks and expressed concern for Barkhuis’ health.

Barkhuis’ term is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2018.

County Administrator Jim Jones said the board has requested information from the prosecuting attorney’s office on the process for finding a replacement to serve the remainder of Barkhuis’ term.

The treasurer could be appointed by the board or elected by the people, depending on when Barkhuis decides to leave office.

“It all depends on the timing,” Jones said in a Tuesday interview.

“I think it’s going to be very date-specific.”

Barkhuis could not be reached for further comment Tuesday.

Barkhuis took a medical leave of absence after a dispute with the 2015 Board of County Commissioners over the disbursement of $1.3 million in Opportunity Fund grants.

Barkhuis, a licensed attorney, refused to process the warrants for the commissioner-approved infrastructure grants, citing an insufficient public process and the absence of written contracts with the grant recipients.

She ultimately signed the checks to the city and Port of Port Angeles before taking medical leave in September 2015.

Barkhuis, a longtime Port Angeles resident, worked as a senior planner in the county’s Department of Community Development before being elected treasurer.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Clallam County treasurer’s statement on plan to step down