Letters to the Editor

Supports Peterson for reelection to San Juan County Council, North San Juan

I came away from the San Juan Builders Association Candidates Forum at Mullis Community Senior Center for the two District 2 candidates with several impressions. There is a clear choice for District 2 voters in this council-seat election.

One impression is that Rich Peterson is not a politician ... which is a compliment.

He comes across as a man who has both feet planted firmly on the ground and a clear understanding of where to draw a line between the proper role of government versus what needs to be left to individual responsibility. He clearly respects the non-partisan intent of the county’s charter form of government.

My impression of Laura Jo Severson, in contrast to Rich Peterson, is that she is a classic politician, straight from central casting. She is good at getting her talking points across and, like the classic politician, she is skilled at morphing answers to questions in a direction she believes will be beneficial to her campaign — but not necessarily answering the question.

As a politician, she knows county voters generally lean toward Democrats in elections. She is campaigning as a “progressive Democrat,” highlighting her active participation in the Democrat Party politics.

At first, this seemed to be an honest mistake by a new candidate who didn’t understand the County Charter requires council races be non-partisan. Laura Jo’s continued insertion of partisan party politics into her campaign, complete with off-the-cuff comments, shows an obvious election strategy, and not a novice’s mistake. One wonders what other aspects of the charter Laura Jo Severson would ignore.

Councilman Rich Peterson’s answers to forum questions clearly showed he cares about the future for island residents, has a healthy respect for a citizen’s right to succeed and sometimes fail, without over-reaching government intervention. I do not sense that he sees county government routinely involved in citizens' private decisions.

Peterson seems to be generally supportive of our local businesses, working families and personal liberty, all part of the foundation of the American success story.

Rich’s answers to questions would indicate that he wants to see our local government do a good job of providing the basic government services the law requires, before pioneering off into other areas.

Laura Jo leaves the impression she sees a very significant and involved role for county government and county employees in overseeing the daily activities of private citizens. With good intentions I am sure, she seems to believe that there isn’t much that local government should not be involved in.

She said in her travels around the district she has seen homes that, in her mind, are not safe ... the implication being that county officials should be going out doing inspections of existing homes and evaluating home safety? She has seen homes that are too close together ... in her mind, these homes don’t exhibit the rural image and should not be allowed? She is a proponent of a county public transportation system which can not survive without taxpayer subsidies. She is in favor of increased county involvement in mental health, with no suggestions of how to pay for her expanded program.

I don’t agree with every position Councilman Peterson has put forward, but I appreciate the fact he is not doctrinaire. If a citizen does a solid job of putting forward a well-reasoned solution to a problem, I think Rich will give it serious consideration. It is my impression that he is an Independent politically, not wedded to any local advocate group’s philosophy; he truly listens.

Laura Jo repeatedly claimed she wants input from everyone and will listen to everyone. Experience shows that sometimes when a politician has been drumming their commitment to openness, it quickly fades after the election. As a candidate who is promoting a “progressive Democrat” philosophy in the face of what county voters intended to be a non-partisan charter government, I am left with the impression that with her partisan approach, she may not be an equal opportunity listener. In her eyes, some San Juan County voters may be more equal than others.

Councilman Peterson’s answers to question indicate that he gets the importance of the public process in decision making. I did not get that same reference to the importance of an inclusive public process from Laura Jo Severson.

From her answers at the forum, she appears less concerned with how decisions are reached (or protections for the rights of individuals), as long as what was achieved in the end was what she has in mind in the first place.

I hope the voters of District 2 re-elect Rich Peterson. He has proven that he is a thoughtful and competent elected official. Richard's balanced common sense approach to local issues is welcome and necessary if our local government is to serve the broad interests of our citizens.

John Evans
Orcas Island

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