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OPAL's Byers vying for Orcas county council post
After 17 years at the helm of Orcas Island's community land trust, Lisa Byers has her sights set on a new venture.
Byers, executive director of Of People and Land, more commonly known as OPAL, is one of three candidates vying for the reconstituted County Council position from District 2, which comprises Orcas and Waldron islands, and neighboring outer islands, which include Crane, Obstruction and the Wasp islands.
"Throughout my working life I have brought a balanced, pragmatic approach to managing organizations whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. My particular strength and satisfaction comes from crafting solutions that stand the test of time through inclusive, open and creative conversation.”
Byers has been a resident of Orcas Island since 1994. She is a graduate of Vassar College and earned a master's degree at Boston University in business administration and non-profit management. She and her partner, Laurie Gallo, together helped to raise two daughters, both graduates of Orcas Island School District, who are now enrolled in college and graduate school, respectively.
Allen Smith, president of OPAL's board of directors, credits Byers with raising the profile of the community land trust, whose primary mission in creating affordable housing, onto the national stage.
"Lisa's acumen and business sensate have helped build OPAL from a novice nonprofit into a nationally preeminent provider of permanently affordable housing," Smith said in a prepared statement distributed by the Byers' campaign.
With three candidates vying for the District 2 post — Dr. Gregory Ayers and Rick Hughes have entered the race as well — voters across the county will narrow the field to two in a Feb. 12 primary election. The top two vote-getters will then square off in a countywide "general" election April 23. Each member of the 3-person council will earn $75,000 a year, plus benefits, a compensation package approved by the Citizens Salary Commission Nov. 9 in a 5-2 vote.
Byers said her decision to enter the race is based on a desire to "help our community thrive into the future. I love Orcas and believe that I have the experience and perspective to serve the county well. I look forward to listening to and learning from voters on all the islands."
For more on Byers campaign and background, visit www.lisabyers.org.