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Candidates tell Town Council why they're ideal for appointment

Despite Town Administrator King Fitch’s warning, they stayed put.

The four candidates for a Town Council vacancy were interviewed briefly by the council Thursday. They then sat through a public hearing on amendments to the 2008 Town Budget (there were no comments from the public), council discussion of the 2008 Water, Sewer and Stormwater Utility Rate Study, council acceptance of a reclaimed wastewater project, and discussion of the source of detergents in the harbor.

Then, Fitch advised the candidates that council meetings are only one part of the job; council members serve on other boards and committees that deal with issues of town interest. He kiddingly advised them that they might want to leave the room now.

None of them left.

Come Aug. 7, Anna Maria de Freitas, Bob Low, Noel Monin or Dan Zaehring will be sworn in as a council member – in time to consider a land-use matter with the council’s senior member, Carrie Brooks, on vacation.

The council position was vacated by Kelley Balcomb-Bartok, who resigned June 6 to take a communications position at the City of Renton.

The Town Council is a legislative body. Council members adopt resolutions and ordinances, approve changes in zoning, make policy and approve the budget. Council members are paid $85 per meeting for up to four meetings per month.

De Freitas is a cookbook author and, with her husband David Pass, owns Harrison House Suites, Tucker House B&B and Coho Restaurant. She is also a member of the board of directors of the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau and is a graduate of Leadership San Juans.

“I can’t say no,” she said of her active life.

She said that after working for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C., she is attracted by the transparency in local government here and feels she can make a difference as a council member. Through her participation in Leadership San Juans, she learned about local issues and “that local voices can be heard.”

Low is a former town fire chief. He is county fire marshal and an elected member of the San Juan Hospital District Commission. He and his wife, Barbara, live on Spruce Street.

In response to a question about the proposed integrated medical center, he said he didn’t see any conflict in serving as a hospital commissioner and Town Council member because the commission makes decisions that are not town-specific but related to the entire island.

Monin is a San Juan Island Fire Department lieutenant. He is one of five full-time employees at the department and is in charge of the maintenance division. He and his wife, Ann, lives on Carter Avenue.

“Recent and imminent issues are mounting to challenge our community is ways many of us have never experienced,” he said. “Dwindling education funds, water recovery and disposal, local and state transportation, and wildlife habitat degradation are just a few that I believe take precedence … I believe it well behooves our local government and leadership to face these challenges, then foster a solution- oriented path that our entire community can embrace.”

Monin spoke of his interests as a husband and father, firefighter and EMT, homeowner, gardener and outdoorsman. “My interests in government and politics combined with my passions for community service, sustainable practices and family values provide a sincere and well-balanced approach to helping solve these issues.”

Zaehring owns Account/Ability Resources, Inc., which provides financial management and operational accounting services. He and his wife, Andrea, live on Park Street.

Zaehring said he has more than 30 years of experience in finance. He has served as a founding board member of the San Juan Public Schools Foundation and as treasurer of Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church.

“I have no hidden agendas or axes to grind, now a narrow single-issue constituency,” he said. “I will diligently work for what I believe will be best for the town overall, not just for today but also for the years to come.”

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