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Mayor-elect Lacher: 'This is an amazing, forward-thinking place to live'
Carrie Lacher, 54, was elected Friday Harbor's 28th mayor Tuesday. She is the first woman elected to the job in the town's 100-year history.
Mayor-elect Lacher was born near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where her Air Force dad was stationed. The family later moved to Des Moines, Wash., and then Los Angeles and Chicago.
Lacher earned a journalism degree from Northwestern University in 1977 and worked briefly at the Oak Ridger newspaper in Tennessee.
She moved to San Juan Island in 1994. She wrote a column, "The Early Years," for The Journal and, from 1998-01 owned the clothing store 10 Cannery Landing. She became bookkeeper for St. Francis Church and assistant director of the San Juan Community Home Trust.
She lives in the Salal Neighborhood on Carter Avenue; she left the Home Trust after being elected to the Town Council, she said, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. She supported the annexation of the Buck property to clear the way for the Home Trust's affordable housing neighborhood there.
After she left the Home Trust, she joined the staff of the San Juan Island Library full-time as bookkeeper and library associate. She continues to keep the books for St. Francis Church.
She was elected to the Town Council in November 2007, after unsuccessfully applying for a council vacancy. She also serves as chairwoman of the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee and as a member of the county Housing Bank Commission.
Despite the big issues she will face as mayor — recessionary-decline in tax revenues, budget cuts and infrastructure needs — she is positive about the town's future. "This is an amazing, forward-thinking place to live," she said.
-- Establish a funding source for street improvements; possible revenue sources include a paid lot for public parking.
-- Consider a moratorium on utility rate increases while money is raised to fix needy streets.
-- Consider postponing certain capital improvements, such as enlarging the Trout Lake dam, to stave off water rate increases.
-- Join a countywide stormwater utility to further spread the costs of stormwater improvements.
-- Commercializing recycling services downtown.
-- As mayor, be "a very visible presence" at the Association of Washington Cities, which represents Washington's cities and towns before the state Legislature, the state executive branch and regulatory agencies. "That presence is critical to keep Friday Harbor on Olympia's radar," she said.
-- Ally with other ferry-served communities in this region, so the region has a collective political voice on transportation issues.
-- She will not support a single fire department for San Juan Island unless there is clear benefit for the town; she supported the town's participation in a Sept. 25 conference on establishing regional fire authorities.
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.