LaDon Linde has been selected to fill the vacancy on the Yakima County Commission left by Norm Childress’ death.
Linde, a Republican, is a former Lower Valley dairy operator who now is the director of medical staff services at Astria Sunnyside Hospital.
Linde couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but he has voiced support for further reopening businesses and churches as the county had made progress in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Yakima County Commissioners Ron Anderson and Vicki Baker made the appointment during Tuesday’s regular business meeting.
Linde was chosen over Autumn Torres, human resources director for a Harrah fertilizer company, and Jim Restucci, a Sunnyside City Councilman who also serves on the state Transportation Commission and is chairman of the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments.
Last month the Republican Central Committee selected the three as finalists from a pool of 11 applicants. Linde was the party’s top choice, followed by Torres and Restucci.
State law allows political parties to put forth three candidates when a member vacates a county commission seat early. Commissioners make the final appointment.
County commissioners have 30 days from the time a seat becomes vacant to appoint a successor or the decision would have fallen to Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat.
Childress died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 15 and commissioners were under a Nov. 14 deadline to replace him.
Linde would have to run in the 2021 election if he’s interested in completing Childress’ term, which expires in 2022. Childress was elected in November 2018 and his four-year term started in January 2019.
Anderson and Baker said it was a tough decision, given the qualifications of each candidate and the numerous letters of support each received.
“I do appreciate everyone stepping up,” Anderson said. “It’s not easy to do and not everyone wants to do it.”
“Yes, and in the end the voters will decide — I know that firsthand,” she said.
Baker was appointed to District 1 in January, when Commissioner Mike Leita retired with a year left on his term. Commissioners Anderson and the late Childress chose Baker over Republicans Amanda McKinney, a mortgage broker, and then-retired peace officer Nolan Wentz.
Baker, who was the Republican party’s top pick during the appointment process, lost her seat to McKinney in the general election.
McKinney will take office when election results are certified Nov. 24.
She released a statement Tuesday congratulating Linde on the appointment.
“I am confident LaDon will serve with a great sense of duty, knowing he is fulfilling the role vacated due to the tragic passing of Norm Childress. I stand committed and eager to establish a great working relationship with the Commissioners, working closely with Ron and LaDon to achieve great things for the people of Yakima County,” McKinney said in the statement.
This story has been updated with additional information.