Letters to the Editor

Needlessly divided by a flawed charter | Letters

By Gordy Petersen

Strip away the politics and islanders are all decent and exceptional people. One thing we all have in common is that our highest priority in life is not what we do but where we live.

As independent islanders we will always disagree and argue about every issue. But losing control of our local government means that we can’t do much about it anymore. The good news is that we can take control again.

The people’s control of our government is the core principle of Home Rule. I believe we have lost it and become increasingly divided because of the way the charter was set up. Here’s why.

Since the inception of San Juan County, voters had the ability to control their own destiny by voting for all of their representatives. The Charter changed that. Now we can only vote for one and we are divided into six small districts pitted against each other.

Not only do we have geography separating us, we now have our government structure working to divide us. Under a flawed charter we have created an artificial way to divide ourselves.

The islands need to be unified. The charter damaged this concept. We should never forget that our islands, with their diverse interdependent communities, must be unified in the way they are governed. The people we elect should always act in the best interest of the entire county, not just their own island.

The recommended changes to the charter are simple, tried and true. Reduce the size of the council. Limit the power of the administrator and put it more clearly into the hands of the leaders we elect to delegate as they see fit.

Make government transparent. Give control back to the people. And most importantly, bring our islands together again. Please consider voting in favor of the three charter amendments.

— Editor’s note: Gordy Petersen is chairman of the Charter Review Commission and a member of the former Board of Freeholders.


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