Journal of the San Juan Islands


It’s the bathwater, not the baby | Letters

October 24, 2012 · Updated 2:30 PM

“Save Our Charter” is sure catchy — and rhetorical.

It is intended to convince people unsure of the issues that voting “Yes” is a return to the old commission form of government. I don’t buy it. I plan to vote “Yes” for the charter amendments and here’s why.

A three-member council elected countywide will best represent the interests of the entire county, not just one island. It gives each of us a stake in the outcome of all the council seats. It will prevent a minority of the council from dictating policy and governmental actions contrary to will of the majority and the people they represent.

Electing three full-time council members, each paid a living wage, will open the door to a wider constituency. It will provide reasonable access to those with the necessary intelligence, skills and dedication, people who might not otherwise be able to juggle a job or business and family obligations with the demands of the council.

Paying a living wage in recognition of a full-time job is not feasible with a six-member council. We have seen too many seats go unopposed lately — when this happens we don’t get the best leadership, we elect the person that shows up. More seats did not result in better representation.

Amendment No. 2 tasks the county manager with assisting the council. It doesn’t give individual council members the right to direct staff or make personnel decisions. Elected department heads retain autonomy as mandated by state law.

In the last six years under the current charter (with the hoped for separation of executive and legislative powers), was the outcome stronger administrative leadership?

Let’s face it, unless elected by the voters, the administrator serves at the will of the council and will never be fully autonomous. The second charter amendment language is realistic and strategic.

As for the third proposed amendment (language to ensure public access to all council meetings,) the opposition does not disagree with transparency per se, rather, they ask the voters to vote “No”, “to send a message.”

Seems to me that “Yes, Yes and Yes” is the right message.

Sandy Strehlou, Friday Harbor


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