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Candidate Q&A: Lovel Pratt, County Council San Juan South
1. Education and background:
I attended Bryn Mawr College, Keene State College, and the Anthropology Film Center; worked in the film industry (primarily at Florentine Films — “The Civil War,” “Congress,” “Thomas Hart Benton”), and as an author’s assistant.
Since moving here in 1991, I have been actively involved in public service both in volunteer and paid positions, primarily in local county government, agriculture, affordable housing and education. More information is included on my campaign Web site, www.electlovel.com/qualifications.html
2. What priorities should determine where the island’s solid-waste transfer station will be located?
In addition to the criteria included in the thorough evaluation process being conducted by the Public Works Department, the most important priority in determining the location of San Juan Island’s solid-waste transfer station is public participation. A solid-waste transfer station on San Juan Island is an Essential Public Facility that must be sited, and it will be located in someone’s “backyard.” We as a community need to work to identify the best possible site and the best possible means to mitigate the impacts.
The project timeline, scope for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and other documents are on the Public Works Web site, www.sanjuanco.com/transferstation/transferstationtimeline.aspx
The Draft EIS will be released on July 28 and there will then be a 45-day comment period. The Supplemental Alternative Analysis will be issued in the middle of August. I urge everyone who is concerned about the location of the transfer station to get informed, comment on the EIS and consider joining the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
3. What role, if any, should the county have with regard to affordable housing?
San Juan County is in an affordable housing crisis. Very few jobs in SJC pay a living wage that will support a family and purchase and maintain a home in this community. SJC has the largest affordability gap between the average price of a home and the average wage earned by residents of any county in Washington.
Families that rely on wages to live in SJC are finding it extremely difficult to remain in our community. In a county composed entirely of islands, the continued breadth of community and economy is at stake.
I applaud the accomplishments and efforts of all the affordable housing organizations and the SJC Housing Board. SJC needs as many affordable housing solutions as possible and, for long-range planning, needs to recognize the importance of permanently affordable housing.
SJC is overdue in updating the Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan. The Housing Element is required by law to “make adequate provisions for existing and projected (housing) needs of all economic segments of the community.”
If elected I will:
-- Encourage the county to find ways to further facilitate and support the work of affordable housing organizations.
-- Encourage the update of the Housing Element to include policies that will create housing for all economic segments of our community.
-- Work with our legislators to amend state law to allow affordable housing programs to serve SJC residents who earn up to at least 120 percent of the median family income.
-- Encourage the establishment of a local Housing Trust Fund to provide grants or subsidy support (e.g. through a special fee or tax assessed on buildings over a certain size, recording fees, small percentage of sales tax, density bonus, “inclusionary zoning,” or real estate tax).
4. What changes, if any, would you like to see in ferry service to the San Juans?
To relieve vehicle congestion, I would encourage Washington State Ferries to provide year-round free or limited fee parking (so that there is an incentive to park and walk-on) at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, improve the interface with other public transportation systems and/or rental and/or zip cars, and make some sort of luggage/off-island purchase carts available for walk-on passengers to transport large carry-on items.
A reservation system has potential benefits, but it must be set up to address fairly the different needs of residents, commercial trucks and tourists.
At the June 26 Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, David Moseley (assistant secretary, Ferries Division) said that the ferry system is not financially sustainable into the future. The primary issue regarding our ferry service is the need to identify a sustainable source of funding. This funding source cannot come from increased ridership fees.
I have pledged that if elected I will go to Olympia when the Legislature is in session at least one day a month, regardless of compensation, to work with our legislators on county issues — including ferry service and a sustainable source of funding for ferries — that must be addressed at the state level.
5. Are you satisfied with the progress of the pending replacement of the stretch of Cattle Point Road threatened by erosion? Please explain.
The residents of Cattle Point and Cape San Juan must have a secure overland route to the rest of the island. It is very frustrating that it has taken so much time to conduct the required preliminary designs, cultural and biological resources studies, and the Environmental Impact Statement.
I am relieved that the National Park Service has identified and prepared an emergency alternate route should the need arise.
This is a very complicated project being addressed by local, state and federal agencies as it is a county road located in a National Park and in part on land that is owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. While project planning is taking a long time, I know that this process is essential in order to secure the state and/or federal funding that will be needed to complete this project.
I have pledged that if elected I will make it a priority to follow this project closely, facilitate its progress wherever possible, and secure funding from both state and federal sources for the final design and construction of the Cattle Point Road relocation project. Given the complexities and funding challenges of this road relocation project, I am satisfied with the current progress.
6. Are you satisfied with the implementation of the county charter? Please explain.
I am satisfied with the implementation of the county charter to date. However, there should be an evaluation to determine whether or not the goals that the charter had sought to achieve are being realized (for example, “Has the implementation of the charter been revenue neutral?”).
7. What issues do you think are unique to your district?
See 2 and 5 above.