The role of commissioners on the San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 Board is to ensure the community’s medical needs are met, to have fiscal responsibility and to be transparent with the public. The candidates that will best fulfill these responsibilities are Barbara Sharp for position #2, Monica Harrington for position #3 and Bill Williams for position #5.
Barbara Sharp has a long career of public service as staff attorney for Washington State, as well working with the local chapter of Soroptimist International, and on the boards of Friends of the Library and League of Women Voters. Sharp has focused her campaign on the issues of transparency, the EMS levy and affordable healthcare and suggested a number of ways to assist them.
Sharp has recommended that the board extend their outreach to citizens unable to regularly attend meetings to make public comment by allowing an online commenting process, as well as utilizing social media, as San Juan County administration has recently embraced. She also supports creating an urgent care in order to allow islanders access to healthcare without the emergency room price tag.
Ultimately her commitment to transparency comes from wanting the trust of islanders who need the board as a way to access their local healthcare systems. This trust translates to voters approving a critical EMS levy in 2016, which Sharp has detailed steps to get passed.
One of the more contentious candidates out of the three is Monica Harrington, a self-described patient’s advocate.
Harrington has a background in successful businesses, and has made patients rights, the EMS budget and levy and affordability her main goals in her campaign. In a recent Q&A with the Journal, Harrington stated that she would like to minimize legal exposure and find a pragmatic solution to the issues raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, a resolution that would not result in litigation and a strategy that Sharp and Williams support.
Concerns have been raised about Harrington’s role as the editor of the website CatholicWatch, which aims to monitor Catholic healthcare organizations. We too sense that Harrington has a wider scope of issues with Catholic organizations than PeaceHealth, however her commitment to affordable healthcare and serving islanders comes first and foremost. We trust that Harrington will honor this.
Harrington has experience in outreach programs through her business background, and will use these skills to ensure that voters can understand and support the EMS levy passage in 2016. Harrington is an effective and diligent communicator, a trait that will serve her well on the board.
Bill Williams has an extensive background in healthcare administration, including a masters degree and 30 years of managing hospitals and physician practices. He said in the Journal’s recent Q&A that “the role of commissioners is to utilize their powers to secure the best healthcare possible through the wise expenditure of public funds.” He has also pledged to help restore the public trust that the district works for the public and to make them part of the major decision making process. We believe that Williams’s experience and readiness to address critical issues with openness will guide the board well.