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Pratt, Petersen leading in San Juan South; Lichter out on Orcas

South San Juan Island voters chose experience — one a long-time county planning commissioner, the other a former planning commissioner and freeholder — to advance to the general election in the race for County Council, District 1.

Lovel Pratt and Gordy Petersen were the leading vote-getters in today's primary and appeared headed to the Nov. 4 general election.

Finishing third was Lisa Guard, a San Juan Valley farmer and former town business owner. Daniel Miller Jr., a former candidate for state Legislature and county commission, finished fourth.

As of 8:17 p.m., Pratt had 327 votes; Petersen, 295; Guard, 229; and Miller, 23.

Today's primary is significant. It is guaranteed that the council will have at least one new voice come January, as the position is being vacated by state Senate candidate Kevin Ranker. It's the first time that this position was voted on by district, under the county charter approved in 2005. And the winner will help the county save money right off the bat: Ranker receives the salary he received before the charter was approved, about $68,000 a year. After this election, the salary drops to about $34,000 a year.

The campaign was a first for Guard. At a candidates forum in Friday Harbor, she said she was concerned about the ability of local farmers and businesses to survive. She supports the Growth Management Act and is concerned about the siting of the new state transfer station, and ensuring expanded cellphone reception for emergency purposes.

Petersen's issues include “common sense” in legislation, regulations and spending priorities. “We have to get control of the runaway costs of the charter,” he said.

Pratt is project director of the San Juan County Agricultural Guild, which is working to establish a permanent site for a year-round farmers market.

“I want to do whatever I can to enhance this beautiful place,” she said, adding that she is inspired by her 85-year-old mother, who is seeking a ninth term in the New Hampshire state legislature.

Miller has run for the state House of Representatives and the County Commission. He has a degree in public policy from Evergreen State College; he also studied radio broadcasting.

At a candidates forum in Friday Harbor, he said he would go to Olympia to lobby on issues of local interest and would host “a lot of public forums” on public issues.

In response to a question at the candidates forum, all said they needed to study the proposed Critical Areas Ordinance, a state Growth Management Act requirement that would affect development in environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, fish and wildlife conservation areas, groundwater recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas.

Guard said she’s been attending local meetings on the issue. “It’s a balance,” she said. “We have to take care of the environment, but we have to take care of property rights too. We have to take care of both.”

Petersen warned against a “blurring of science and legislation,” and said the ordinance should employ the best available information; in fact, the state Legislature in 1995 added a requirement to include “Best Available Science” in setting policies and regulations regarding critical areas.

All candidates said they are comfortable with the council salaries set by the Salary Commission and wouldn’t lobby for more pay.

Pratt said she would go to Olympia once a month to lobby on issues of local interest. Petersen said he supports a cut in pay, noting that Friday Harbor Town Council members receive $85 a meeting and the town manages to attract good candidates.

For San Juan County Council, Orcas West, Alan Lichter's bid for a second term has ended. Former freeholder Richard Fralick was leading with 331 votes. Mindy Kayl, a member of the Eastsound Planning Review Board, was second with 174 votes.

Bruce Orchid, who served as a county commissioner in 1989-92, was third with 163. Lichter was fourth with 156. Jessica Bense, an Eastsound business owner, had nine votes.

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