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Town Council member Carrie Lacher announces candidacy for mayor

Carrie Lacher ... would be first woman mayor of Friday Harbor - File photo
Carrie Lacher ... would be first woman mayor of Friday Harbor
— image credit: File photo

Friday Harbor Town Council member Carrie Lacher announced today her candidacy for mayor of Friday Harbor.

If elected, she would be the first female mayor since the town was incorporated in 1909. She is the first candidate to announce for the position this year; Mayor David Jones told The Journal April 22 that he will not seek a second term.

"Over the past year and a half that I have been a member of the Town Council, I believe I have clearly demonstrated my commitment to a sustainable future for our community,” Lacher said in a press release. “Community, commitment and cooperation, that’s what it’s about.”

Lacher, an island resident since 1994, is currently the chairwoman of the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee and serves as the town representative to the Housing Bank Commission and the Joint Town-County Planning Policy Committee.

“We have some unique opportunities ahead to work in cooperation with the county to achieve important goals for our town and our island,” she said. She pointed to the recent decision by the County Council to reopen negotiations with the town on the siting of the new solid waste transfer station and the recent decision by the Town Council to annex a portion of the Urban Growth Area.

“These are key examples of critical issues that present us with an opportunity to rebuild a mutually beneficial relationship between the town and the county.”

Lacher has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in early childhood special education from the University of Washington. Since joining the council, she has attended several sessions offered by the Association of Washington Cities and will be attending the association's annual conference in June.

Lacher works at San Juan Island Library as bookkeeper and general library staff. She continues to keep the books for St. Francis Catholic Church, where she had been the business administrator for about five years after selling her clothing boutique, Ten Cannery Landing. Lacher was also assistant director of San Juan Community Home Trust during the period it was developing the Salal Neighborhood on Carter Avenue.

“I’ve worked with boards, parents, customers, tourists and kids. I’m creative but detail oriented. I enjoy change and visioning while keeping a close eye on the bottom line and being respectful of our island history and traditions,” Lacher said. “You need that kind of adaptability and commitment to consensus building to lead a council and a community into a solid and vibrant future.

“Over the 15 years that I have lived and worked on San Juan Island, I have interacted regularly with those workers and families who help to keep our town functioning but who, because of our island economy, are struggling to establish deep roots like our pioneer families were able to do. Through my work at the Home Trust and at St. Francis, I came to know many families who are working hard to make a stable life for themselves and their children. As a former island preschool teacher, I know of the challenges facing our young families and the challenges facing our young residents as well. As a past town merchant, I am personally aware of the unique financial and staffing concerns of our many small business owners, particularly in these uniquely challenging economic times.”

A Salal Neighborhood homeowner since 2004, Lacher has come to appreciate the importance of affordable housing in creating and sustaining a viable, diverse community.

“I have learned first-hand how empowering and transformative the stability of homeownership is for people, especially young families.”

Lacher also noted the town’s history of working closely with affordable housing groups and town staff’s current hard work regarding the Buck annexation as important indicators of flexible and creative thinking when it comes to challenging issues.

“Infrastructure – streets, sewer and water – these are big topics now and even more so in the years ahead. A council and a staff that are prepared to bring all their skills to the table and work hard together is key.”

Lacher can be contacted at 378-2785 and carrie@rockisland.com, or visit www.carrielacher.blogspot.com.

Other council members say no to candidacy
No woman has served as mayor in Friday Harbor's 100-year history. But the Town Council is comprised of a majority of women — 4 to 1, as a matter of fact.

At this time, however, Councilwoman Carrie Brooks, who has served as mayor pro tem in Jones’ absence, has said she will not run for mayor.

Councilwoman Liz Illg, who has also served as mayor pro tem, has said no. Councilwoman Anna Maria de Freitas, a B&B owner and cookbook author appointed to the council in August, said before Lacher's announcement that she won’t run but hoped one of her colleagues would “step up.”

(Councilman Christopher Wolf, elected to the council in November 2007, is leaving the council at the end of May to teach in Qatar.)

The primary election is Aug. 18. The general election is Nov. 3. Besides the office of mayor, others on the ballot are council positions held by Illg; de Freitas, who is completing an unexpired term; and Wolf, who is vacating the position.

The mayor is paid $148 per meeting, with a maximum of four meetings per month (council members receive $85 per meeting).

The mayor is the chief executive of the town. The mayor has ultimate hire and fire authority, although most of that responsibility is delegated to the town administrator.

The mayor has the authority to appoint members of town commissions and committees, although the mayor has traditionally sought the endorsement of the Town Council.

The mayor works with the town administrator and town treasurer to write the budget, but the budget is approved by the Town Council. The mayor also presides over Town Council meetings, but can vote only to break a tie.

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