Retired educator Severson running for County Council, San Juan North | County Council, District 2

Laura Jo Severson ... running for San Juan County Council, San Juan North. - Laura Jo Severson
Laura Jo Severson ... running for San Juan County Council, San Juan North.
— image credit: Laura Jo Severson

Retired educator Laura Jo Severson has announced her candidacy for San Juan County Council District 2 (San Juan North).

She is one of two candidates running for the position so far; the other is Rich Peterson, who is seeking reelection. The primary election is Aug. 17, the general election is Nov. 2. The top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election. Candidates began mailing in their formal candidacy documents May 21; in-person filing is June 7-11.

County Council members serve four-year terms. They receive $34,000 a year and the same health benefits as county employees.

Severson said she is seeking this position because she wants to see the council take a more proactive role in dealing with county problems. She and her husband, Bill, live on Kiya Way on the west side of Mount Dallas and both are involved with the Mount Dallas Association. She is concerned about the issues that many of the residents of her district face, like maintaining water and septic systems, water conservation, public and private roads maintenance, fire protection, solid waste management, and public safety.

Severson spent 32 years as a high school guidance counselor and teacher. She is employed part-time by a non-profit agency which helps individuals with disabling conditions to find employment or meaningful volunteer service. She became interested in transportation issues in the county when she found that the greatest barrier to employment disabled people face is the lack of public transportation. She serves on the Critical Needs Task Force Transportation Committee and has written recommendations that the county establish a Local Transportation Planning Organization to apply for grants and state funding for transit projects.

Severson has concerns about local production of food and maintaining a sustainable agricultural base in the county. She is a lifelong gardener and sees herself as a steward of the land and supporter of those whose work provides food and farm products for all of us.

Severson and her husband are volunteers for the Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross because they are concerned about caring for their neighbors in an emergency. As former residents of the Gulf Coast, they have experienced natural disasters in the form of hurricanes and now work to help their community prepare to deal with the emergencies that could happen here.

Much of District 2 is vulnerable to wildfire during summer and fall, and she supports the work of the various neighborhoods that participate in the Firewise program. She thinks the county needs to provide education to visitors about their role in preventing fires, and to residents to help them develop the skills to protect their families and property.

Severson said she plans to focus her campaign on personal contact with the voters in her district. She has begun to call or visit her neighbors to survey what they see as critical issues facing the county. She sees her role as County Council member as a representative of the voters who select her, and she seeks to identify the needs and options of her constituents. She feels that studying the issues and responding to the needs of residents should be the first response of a council member.

14 positions on ballot
Islanders will vote on 14 legislative and local positions this year: County assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecutor, sheriff, treasurer; County Council District 2, District 5, and District 6; District Court judge, Superior Court judge; U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District, 40th District state House Position 1, and 40th District state House Position 2.

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