Opinion

Trust experience, ‘Yes’ to CRC | Guest Column

I have followed with great interest the discussion of the proposed Charter amendments. There are very intelligent, committed, and concerned people on both sides of the issue.

I am not at all surprised that a large number of the former freeholders have come out strongly in opposition to the proposed amendments. They put a great deal of effort, thought, and dedication into significantly changing our form of local government, and it is not only expected but laudable that they have enough faith in their efforts to want to see them continued, even as some of them acknowledge that our elected officials have not always followed the dictates of the charter in they way they had intended.

Still, they are committed to the proposition that if the charter provisions are properly complied with, we will have a better government than we had under our old system.

I was unsure of how to vote until a few days ago. But then, a number of former elected officials, for many of whom I have great respect even when I haven’t always (or in a few cases, almost ever!) agreed with them, came out in favor of the amendments. These are the people who have, as they say, “been there, done that.”

Their knowledge of county government is not theoretical, as it was with most of the freeholders, but direct and, in several cases, extensive. I hope all voters have had, or take, the opportunity to consider this extensive list of former elected officials, including our long term sheriff, county clerk, and assessor, and a number of former commissioners.

What impresses me most about this list is that it is not Republican or Democratic, liberal or conservative, but spans the entire range of political beliefs. Not all recent residents or voters may know all of these folks, so let’s look at a few.

On the left — sometimes quite far left — we have Bob Myhr and Rhea Miller, both former commissioners. On the right — sometimes equally far right — we have John Evans and Tom Starr, also former commissioners.

To see these four people agreeing on anything is, frankly, a bit of a shock to those who know them.

Add in Tom Cowan, perhaps one of the most politically astute commissioners of recent history, Alan Lichter, Paul Dosset, Mary Jean Cahail, Kathy Turnbull, Bruce Orchid, Bill Cumming, and Kevin Ranker, and you have a vast array of wisdom and very divergent political views about how county government does and should work, not only from the commissioners’ offices but from almost all the other major county departments, from the courts and sheriff to the assessor’s and auditor’s offices.

When I have to decide whose judgment I trust more, a very well-intentioned and dedicated group of freeholders who have created a model which they, in principle, believe (and they may be right) will result in better government, and a group of those who have spent many decades actually serving the county in elected offices throughout the county government, who have proved over long years of service their dedication and commitment to our county, I have to go with those who have “been there, done that.”

If you, too, believe that in the long run experience trumps theory, I encourage you also to consider the views of these former elected officials and vote in favor of the charter amendments.

Christopher Hodgkin

San Juan Island

 

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