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De Freitas appointed to Friday Harbor Town Council

Anna Maria de Freitas signs her oath of office today after being appointed to the Friday Harbor Town Council. - Scott Rasmussen
Anna Maria de Freitas signs her oath of office today after being appointed to the Friday Harbor Town Council.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Anna Maria de Freitas — a B&B owner, restauranteur and cookbook author — was appointed to the Friday Harbor Town Council today.

She succeeds Kelley Balcomb-Bartok, who resigned June 6 to take a communications position at the City of Renton. The term ends Dec. 31, 2009.

The vote was 3-0; Carrie Brooks was absent.

De Freitas was one of four residents to apply for the job; the others were county Fire Marshal Bob Low, a former town fire chief; Noel Monin, a San Juan Island Fire Department lieutenant; and Dan Zaehring, owner of a financial management and operational accounting services company.

De Freitas and her husband, David Pass, own 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 during an interview with the council July 17.

At that time, 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.”

Councilwoman Liz Illg said today she was impressed with the "depth and breadth" of the four candidates which the council had to select from. However, she said, de Freitas' skills and background impressed her the most. She said de Freitas restores some the "balance" the council lost with the departure of Balcomb-Bartok.

Mayor David Jones agreed with Illg's assessment of the candidates. "This group is unusually qualified," Jones said.

Councilman Chris Wolf encouraged those who didn't make the cut to participate on any of the advisory committees of the town or county. For example, he said, the town or county planning commission would benefit should any of the candidates choose to join.

De Freitas said her top priorities include finding solutions to the town's lack of affordable housing and helping to bolster town infrastructure, such as water and sewer services. As a business owner, she said she knows first-hand that a lack of affordable housing jeopardizes the ability to maintain a steady base of employees.

She said joining the Town Council offers her a unique opportunity to bring about change.

"Small-town government is an arena where a person can make a difference," de Freitas said.

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.

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