By Colleen Smith Armstrong, Editor/Publisher
It’s all about to change and it’s in the hands of county voters.
With the Charter Review changes now in effect, the council will consist of three members – one from each district. Before those candidates are chosen, there is a primary and a general election.
The primary is on Feb. 12 and ballots are out now. There are six candidates total: Greg Ayers, Lisa Byers and Council Member Rick Hughes from Orcas and Council Members Bob Jarman, Marc Forlenza and former Councilwoman Lovel Pratt from San Juan.
All voters, on all islands, will cast their ballot for these six candidates. Two from Orcas and two from San Juan will go on to the general election on April 23. Council Member Jamie Stephens and Brian McClerren are vying for the seat from Lopez.
Two weeks later, on May 7, the April election would be certified, and the new council members would take office the following Monday, May 13. At that time, the terms of the six sitting council members would end.
Bios for each candidate
District 1, San Juan and surrounding islands
Economic development and job growth top Friday Harbor businessman Marc Forlenza’s list of priorities. He intends to meet with business leaders locally and in Seattle, and with representatives of state government, as a means to help create new economic opportunities in the islands. He supports expansion of the broadband initiative, spearheaded by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative, to foster new educational and telecommuting opportunities.
Part-owner and manager of the Technology Center on Mullis Street, Forlenza claimed a seat on the county council in the November election, defeating two-term incumbent Howie Rosenfeld by 99 votes.
In the race against Rosenfeld, Forlenza opposed the Charter Review Commission’s proposed changes to the charter, Propositions 1-3, and along the way drew the endorsement of Local 1849, the largest labor union of county employees.
His campaign website is http://www.campaignforlenza.com/.
A San Juan Island resident of 38 years, Bob Jarman is a two-term incumbent on San Juan Island Fire Department’s elected commission and for more than 30 years worked in various roles and capacities with the local phone company, operated now by CenturyLink. In his first-ever bid for the county council, he defeated first-term incumbent Lovel Pratt by 90 votes to claim the South San Juan position in the November election.
Jarman believes the health of the local economy will depend on both the number and diversity of well-paying jobs.
“Construction, the wholesale/retail trades, healthcare, farming and real estate sales, all need to be fostered and encouraged while respecting our environment and maintaining our island way of life,” he said. “I’ve been a worker and an employer on San Juan Island, and I know how hard it is to make a living.”
His website is www.electbobjarman.com.
Lovel Pratt points to 21 years of experience on San Juan Island in the areas of farming, education, and affordable housing as one qualification for the new council. She served for ten years on the Planning Commission (including two years as chairwoman), and one term on the current council, including serving as council chairwoman in 2011.
On the council, Pratt has been an advocate for the county in Olympia, serving on the Legislative Steering Committee of the Washington State Association of Counties and on three statewide committees related to oil spills and vessel traffic risk assessment.
Supporting a strong local economy and providing effective advocacy at the regional, state and national levels, are issues she is highlighting in her campaign.
Pratt supported the Charter Review Commission propositions. She also supported formation of the Lopez Solid Waste District and the bid by Orcas Recycling Services to manage the Orcas transfer station, pointing to them as protection of local jobs and provision of local solutions to local problems.
Her website is www.lovelpratt.org.
District 2, Orcas and its surrounding islands
Dr. Greg Ayers has extensive business experience in the medical device industry and brings a multi-decade career of operating over a dozen privately financed start-up biotech companies. He presently serves the community as an elected commissioner of the Eastsound Water and Sewer District, as well as in a variety of volunteer positions.
Recently, Ayers has used his experience and skills to support health care on Orcas Island; he is one of the founders of the Island Reproductive Health Initiative and served on the Board of the Orcas Medical Foundation. Nationally, Ayers has provided input to the Obama administration on topics related to small businesses, fiscal policy, intellectual property rights and other governmental policies.
Professionally, he is a recognized expert in abnormal heart rhythms and has developed medical devices including defibrillators, pacemakers, and health monitors. He now wants to apply his skills and experience to the operation of the government of San Juan County. Ayers and his wife first fell in love with Orcas when they were married at Rosario.
His website is www.ayers2013.com.
Lisa Byers’ decision to run for office after 17 years at the helm of OPAL Community Land Trust is based on wanting to “help our community thrive into the future. I love Orcas and believe that I have the experience and perspective to serve the county well.”
Byers attributes her “balanced, pragmatic approach” to her experiences managing organizations whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
Byers has a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, and a Masters in Business Administration in public and nonprofit management from Boston University. She has lived on Orcas Island since 1994. Together with her partner, Laurie Gallo, she has helped raise two daughters, graduates of the Orcas Island School District, who are now in college and graduate school.
Her campaign website is www.lisabyers.org.
Rick Hughes won the November election for the Orcas West council seat, earning 69 percent of the vote against Scott Lancaster.
“I am very excited and thrilled and honored to have that much support,” Hughes said at the time of his win.
Hughes and his wife Marlace manage Ray’s Pharmacy. He also runs a property management group; serves as treasurer of the Orcas Island Farmers’ Market Association, is a board member of Eastsound Planning and Review Committee; volunteers as little league coach; and serves as the PTSA co-president. He was also instrumental in implementing a trash can program for Eastsound.
Prior to moving to Orcas, Hughes was an executive with ESPN. His family has been on Orcas since 1944 and Marlace is a fourth generation Orcas Island resident.
His campaign website is http://hughesfororcas.com/.