Opinion

As They See It: Candidates for mayor of Friday Harbor

Carrie Lacher and Robert Low, candidates for mayor of Friday Harbor, submitted these guest columns on two pressing issues of the day. You can read profiles of the candidates in the Aug. 26 and Sept. 16 editions of The Journal, as well as on SanJuanJournal.com.

CARRIE LACHER: 'County must approve ban on Styrofoam to-go containers'
The Town Council recently stepped forward and voted 5-0 to approve a ban on Styrofoam take-out containers. As a member of the council, I am very proud of our new ordinance.

Now it’s the county’s turn.

On Sept. 1, the County Council voted 5-1 to move forward on passing a similar ban throughout the county by scheduling a public hearing. It is clear that our whole community is ready to stop talking about how Styrofoam pollutes our environment and actually DO something about it. When the hearing is scheduled, I hope that many of you will attend to show your support!

To be frank, when the proposed ban was first presented to Town Council, I was not in favor of it. I always prefer education and voluntary efforts over punitive actions. Why do we need an ordinance when we already have many town merchants who have voluntarily replaced their old take-out containers with ones that are environmentally friendly? And how will we enforce such an ordinance?

But after getting more information, talking with friends and colleagues, and giving it a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that we’ve passed the time for warm and fuzzy gestures. Our fragile marine environment, which supports many of our businesses and gives so many of us so much joy, needs our help NOW.

We are called to be good, responsible stewards of our environment. We are equally called to find a workable balance. I believe this ordinance does just that. It emphasizes the need to take action now to ensure a viable future for the children of this community.

Many businesses and individuals in our town have already stepped up and made important changes. But others need a bigger nudge. This kind of ordinance has shown itself in other municipalities to be community enforceable — in other words, it takes a village to raise a town and we’ll all be watching out for each other.

Now it’s the county’s turn. The County Council has a copy of the town’s adopted ordinance. Its language is clear and simple. I expect the county and town to work together on this to make sure we have consistency across our borders. This is a wonderful opportunity for our town and county to jointly demonstrate our community’s interest in “doing the right thing” to help protect our environment.

— Carrie Lacher, candidate for mayor of Friday Harbor, is a member of the Town Council.

ROBERT LOW: 'Town Council rushed, overspent for new fire engine'
Three of the Town Council members passed a resolution for $600,000 for a new specialty fire engine Sept. 24.

They used the emergency funds that the town treasurer has saved for many years for emergencies like a break in the water transmission line or sewer line or some other catastrophic failure of the town infrastructure. And they did it by sneaking it by us. They even caught the treasurer off guard. Council member Noel Monin was the only one to vote against it.

I showed up at 5:35 as they were trying to rush it through and asked if the public was going to be allowed to speak. I was told no, this was not the time for the public to speak, although the public was allowed to speak on the next agenda item.

When I was allowed to speak, at the very end of the meeting, it was all over and the fire engine issue decided. The so-called reason for this quick shuffle was they needed to get this done before Sept. 26 or the new engine would have to come up to the new emission standards. However, unless town already owns the chassis, the town must still comply with the new standards.

It was also said they needed this engine for the safety of the firefighters. It’s not a high-priced engine that keeps our firefighters safe — it’s good training, good officers, and a good incident command.

We are told we need a 1,500 gallon-per-minute pump when we only have two hydrants in the whole town that will flow that much water.

There are a lot of engines available for half what the council has approved. Keep in mind the town has already purchased a specialty engine for this town. (Engine 7).

Do the town firefighters and this community need a new or good used engine? Absolutely! But not at this price. This was politics as usual. Oh, they will be writing back and trying to explain this in complex language that doesn’t mean a thing. Take the time to check it out on your own. Find out when the resolution was written. Find out why the treasurer was not informed and not allowed to do her elected job. Dig into the public records and see how they spent YOUR money.

It’s important that the council and mayor know the facts about ANY issue that directly affects those that live here. The council and the mayor must be responsible not only to themselves but to the people of Friday Harbor and to make decisions of this magnitude fairly, responsibly and accurately.

They didn’t in this case.

— Robert Low, candidate for mayor of Friday Harbor, is San Juan County fire marshal.

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