Make a New Year’s resolution to get involved with, or at least pay attention to, the coming elections for the San Juan County Council.
Because the elections will implement the recently passed Proposition 1, taking the county from a six-person council elected from six districts to a three-person council elected county-wide, from three “residency districts”, every county voter will vote for all three new council members.
A three-member council means that two council members will control the county’s budget and policies, a result made even more important because Proposition 2, backed by the Charter Review Commission, also passed. You will want to know how each candidate views his or her responsibility to the island he or she lives on and to the other two islands as well.
Proposition 2 cancels the “separation of powers” concept and eliminates the position of county administrator in favor of a yet-to-be-defined county manager, who will report to the new three-member council. The new council will have sole authority over both the executive and legislative power in the county. (While the county’s independently elected officials hold sway over their respective departments, the council holds the purse strings).
San Juan County last had three elected legislators in 2005, under the commission system foresaken by the freeholders, who drafted the original self-rule county charter. At that time, county coffers were relatively well-stocked, public and private employment was high, construction was booming and home sales were strong.
The primary election is Feb 12. Three candidates from San Juan and three from Orcas will seek nominations to join the two Lopez candidates in the April 23 general election.
Because the elections are in February and April, turnout may be significantly reduced. That smaller group of voters may or may not share your views of what’s right for your island and the county as a whole.
The Journal intends to pay close attention to the council elections. How about you?