Bob Jarman is seeking election to the County Council from District 1. He’s lived on San Juan Island for 37 years, serving for the past eight years as Fire Commissioner in District 3. Presently the owner of Island Communications, Inc., he worked for the telephone company on San Juan Island for 30 years. Jarman and his wife Susan have four children and seven grandchildren.
Journal: Are there issues or concerns unique to your legislative district, District 1? If so, what are they?
BJ: Unique to my district is the Cattle Point Road Realignment Project. About 500 feet of Cattle Point Road is being eroded at the base of the bluff that supports the road. This roadway is the only road access to the east end of the Cattle Point peninsula, affecting everyone who lives in that area. It also affects anyone wishing to access the national park, state park and beaches. Discussion, studies and planning on how to realign the road have continued since 2001. The county must come up with funding options for this needed construction project.
Also unique to my district is the farmland of San Juan Valley and portions of Beaverton Valley and West Valley. It is very important to me that they be preserved and protected. Equally important is the land owners’ ability to grow and harvest their crops, raise animals, or just enjoy their land without having to deal with excessive regulations. If there is a pond, lake, or stream on the land, new proposed regulations include: what you can grow; when you can harvest; what type of roof can be put on a barn; how long you can let your “grass” grow and how often it can be mowed, just as a start. I love our farmlands. They are beautiful and unique. I will work to balance protection of the land with the land owners’ rights.
Are you satisfied with the relationship between the county legislative branch, the council, and its executive branch, the administrator? Any changes that you would like to see?
BJ: The original Home Rule Charter was meant to give equal representation to the voters with the council as the legislative branch, and the administrator managing the county departments and carrying out the laws. This is not happening because the council seems to be involved in micromanaging. If the county administrator was allowed to do his or her job and the council concentrated on its legislative duties (updating laws, setting policy) the process would go more smoothly and the charter could be preserved. The key is providing the administrator with a clear, decisive job description and not micro-managing that person’s position or responsibilities.
I think the council needs to support the people working within county government. We have good, hard-working people who deserve to be treated better and “lead” better. I would like to see the council be more efficient, more disciplined and have more direct citizen access.
What are your thoughts about the update of the county critical areas ordinance?
BJ: This issue has hit at the heart of property rights and property values. In my opinion, our county council could have, and should have, determined what about our current protections is not working. The inability of the county staff to find a problem should have led to a finding that our existing rules are adequate. Some areas and language needed updating, but the new rules, new regulations, and new findings under the umbrella of what’s being called the “best available science” went way overboard. Were special interest groups and paid consultants given more credence than our county’s property owners? I believe they were.
The Critical Area Ordinance needs to be appropriate for our islands and legally defensible. I don’t believe the current, proposed CAO is either one. Even though an economic impact statement was deemed unnecessary by the council, I am afraid that the current CAO, if implemented, will have a strong negative effect on our local economy, impacting the construction trade, real estate sales, and tourism. Although state law may not require the county to examine the economic effect of regulations on its citizens, considering the consequences of their actions, it is the right thing to do.
We need to step back, take a practical approach to meeting the basic requirements of the state’s guidelines.
What is your view about county spending and revenue, and balancing the annual budget?
BJ: I am a firm believer in fiscal responsibility. Basic services (public safety, public health and welfare, public roads) must, of course, come first. The spending of county funds for “studies” and “consultants” seems way out of line. I am not naïve enough to think that I can wave a magic wand and have the current and future budgeting problems go away. I will, however, pledge to go over each and every expenditure and determine if it is necessary to the workings of our county.
Revenue growth will not happen without encouraging businesses in our community, especially those that provide year-round employment. Tourism is a great source of revenue for our county and should be encouraged. However, we cannot rely on tourism alone. We need to support the efforts of our business community.
I have worked in business and owned my own business for over 30 years. I have balanced budgets totaling in the millions. I know how to work within a budget and how to do “more with less”. I realize tough decisions have to be made in our current financial climate. We must determine just what is most important to our constituents and to the running of our county government before allotting funds. We need to quit depending on grants and loans, and live within our tax base.
If elected, what would be your top priorities?
BJ: Implementing open, honest dialog with the public and with our county workers; working closely with local businesses to determine their needs and help insure the economic vitality of our community; working to establish funding priorities that help improve the financial condition of our county; getting a handle on the Critical Area Ordinance and the pending Shoreline Management Plan update; getting the relationship between the county council and the Town of Friday Harbor back on track; hiring an exceptional, efficient, high standards administrator for the county.
What public official, either local, state or national, past or present, most closely reflects your view on how government should operate, and why?
My views on how government should operate have been influenced by a variety of people in both official and private sectors. There is not one person with all the answers. Locally, men like Al Nash, Lyman Phifer, Jim Cahail, and Roy Franklin, helped me form my business philosophy and my community awareness which, I believe, is very necessary in being a councilperson and community supporter. In my business career I was tutored and taught by my supervisors and managers, and tried to take the good from the bad. One manager in particular taught me how to respect my employees and their concerns while helping them to excel in their jobs, how to successfully budget and manage finances, and to lay out a plan for the present and the future.
Bob Jarman campaign website, http://www.electbobjarman.com/