Journal of the San Juan Islands


Sailing through change in charter | Letters

November 19, 2012 · Updated 12:06 PM

I would like to thank everyone who supported the work of the Charter Review Commission.

The result of the vote brings significant changes and challenges. I hope we can all join in the effort of making our county government an example of good management and responsiveness to the will of the people.

Change is never easy but with good leadership the transition can be smooth. This requires our elected council members to keep a steady hand on the tiller.

The voter-approved amendments will bring positive change to our county council and administration, and that will be good for our community. As voters, we will have more control over the actions of local government. This is the core principle of Home Rule.

The charter amendments are not complicated, but they do require some patience and care to implement. According to state law they must be implemented within six months.

The amendments become effective when the election is certified on Nov. 27. The transition to the new council/manager system will happen right away followed by a prompt transition to a three-member council elected by all voters county wide.

I am hopeful that the county council will recognize the concerns that were raised by the Charter Review Commission. As soon as possible they will need to adjust their working relationship with the position of county manager by revising the duties and job description and implementing those changes.  The council will want to ask themselves when will the county manager consult with the council members on administrative matters, and when will the manager have the authority to make decisions on his own?

The quick action recently by the salary commission is to be commended, and I remain optimistic that we will have many good candidates from around the county to choose from in the upcoming election.

The CRC drafted a careful transition plan for the elected council members that assures good continuity of governance. We must have faith that our leaders will keep a steady hand on the tiller and guide us as we sail through these changes.

Gordy Petersen/San Juan Island



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