Journal Q&A: Howard Rosenfeld, candidate for San Juan County Council, Friday Harbor

Howard Rosenfeld ... candidate for San Juan County Council, Friday Harbor - File photo
Howard Rosenfeld ... candidate for San Juan County Council, Friday Harbor
— image credit: File photo

About this series The Journal’s series of Candidate Q&As for the Nov. 4 election begins this week with candidates for San Juan County Council, Friday Harbor.

Upcoming in this series: Oct. 1, County Council, San Juan South — Gordy Petersen, Lovel Pratt. Oct. 8, State Senate — Kevin Ranker, Democrat; Steve Van Luven, Republican. Oct. 15, Congress — Rick Bart, Republican; Rick Larsen, Democrat.

About this position: San Juan County Council members are elected by district, serve four-year terms and receive $34,000 a year plus benefits. The County Council:

1. Is the legislative authority of the county.
2. Approves the annual county budget.
3. Is responsible for county property and funds.
4. Considers land-use appeals.
5. Provides for county infrastructure, roads and buildings.
6. Fixes the amount of county taxes according to law.
7. Serves as the county franchising authority.

Howard “Howie” Rosenfeld
20 Web St., Friday Harbor

Q: Should the solid waste transfer station be moved, or can the current site be modified to meet the island’s needs? Which option would be more cost-effective?

A: I’m on record saying I want the solid waste transfer station to stay where it is. The draft EIS says it can be modified.

We’ll be using the chosen site for a very, very long time. Cost, of course, is very important, but which site is best for the town and the island? Unless the final EIS or the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, who will make a recommendation to the council, have some compelling reason, I think it should stay at the Sutton Road location.

Q: Which areas of county government could operate more efficiently? Do you see any areas where expenses could be reduced?

A: We could all be more efficient and cut expenses. If only it were that simple.

We serve the public and need to take the time necessary to deal fairly and courteously with citizen needs. We depend on retaining good employees so we can provide good service and avoid expensive employee turnovers. There already is an employment freeze except in critical positions.

Mainland travel is another area we’re already cutting back on. We’re planning a teleconferencing capability so even interisland travel can be reduced, saving staff time.

We need to stay out of court! Decisions made many years ago are still costing us. So far, the charter council has a pretty good record on this, in large part thanks to Councilmember Knapp.

All departments will likely be taking a serious hit in the ’09 budget currently being drafted. The public has many opinions about what should be cut. Some want environmental protection cut even though most of it is covered by grants. Others, like my opponent, want less land regulation. There is a problem, but her solution is too pro-development.

Regulations are vague and subject to too much interpretation. Clients hire attorneys to take advantage of this and try to get their way around these regulations, tying up much staff time. The county is on track to make necessary changes to our code in order to make the regulations clearer.

Getting into compliance with GMA has been a lengthy and expensive process. We’ve made good progress in two years and we’re getting close. This could make a big difference freeing up staff time and making us eligible for state grants and low-interest loans which we don’t qualify for currently.

We do continue to want your suggestions on this and other subjects. All public access testimony, letters and e-mails are appreciated and taken seriously.

Q: Some Friday Harbor officials are concerned that the town may not be able to afford the costs of providing utility services for a proposed affordable housing neighborhood near the former gravel pit. Since the town is being required to shoulder most of the island’s responsibility for affordable housing, in what ways could the county and town work together on this issue?

A: Affordable housing in the town benefits the county. The need is great and the county needs to do its part.

County is funding the UGA Infrastructure Study for the town. There are the possibilities of yearly grants, like the $100,000 grants the county has made twice to the Guard Street project.

The town and the county worked well together to get the Phase 1 UGA established. I am making sure we continue to work closely together, including collaboration on the annexation issue, so we can try to meet the timing needs of the Home Trust. We also need to make sure that the cost of annexation doesn’t burden current town residents, putting them into a less affordable situation.

Q: Can the island economy be more diverse and, if so, what types of businesses or industries would you like to see locate on the island?

A: It would be great if we produced something that could go back to the mainland in the empty trucks that delivered our goods out here. Farm produce like the old days is a possibility. Supporting agriculture and allowing people to farm on protected Land Bank and trust farmland is something the county is working on.

Otherwise, we’re probably limited to those businesses that can utilize Internet technology, thrive on isolation like artists and writers, or benefit from tourism/recreation. Maybe we can get more movies made here. They’ve been fun and profitable in the past.

We are blessed with a very talented and creative population who may come up with things we never imagined.

Q: Any concerns — economic, environmental, infrastructure, or otherwise — that you feel need to be addressed? How would you address those issues?

A: I’ve always been concerned with growth. How do we control it so we don’t lose the reasons why we want to live here? I’ve seen it happen to other places.

We need to know what are our carrying capacities for water, waste, etc. If we could see computerized illustrations of what “build out” would look like, maybe we could get consensus from both developers and environmentalists on programs to prevent it.

I would like to see a strong island ethic about what we agree our community should be like. Lopez Island has a strong community ethic.

Q: What are your priorities if elected?

A: I am the lead council member on ferry issues, our top priority in ’08. I’ve been to many meetings downsound and I have gotten to know many of the players. I expect ferries will continue as our top priority in ’09.

My overall priority is to protect what we have here: beautiful islands made up of close-knit, livable communities. The threats are many, including ferry service and affordability. Please see the “About Me” page at www.howardrosenfeld.com for more on this and continue to let me know your opinions.

Q: How much have you spent on your campaign? Who are your major contributors?

A: My major contributors are Larry Soll and William Appel. Besides those two major contributors, there are five contributions at $100, two at $50, one $40 and one $20.

I’ve only spent $276 but some big expenses are just coming up.

I want to thank these wonderful supporters who volunteered their money without being asked.

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