Clarity from a former Mullis Center board member

As a former board member of the Mullis Community Senior Center, I’ve been asked who to vote for in the upcoming board election.

We are experiencing Act 2 of the 2019 “Bring Back the Pledge” campaign. A grievance group, following the conclusion of their lawsuit, has been meeting at the Friday Harbor American Legion to conduct a campaign against the Mullis Center, based on misinformation, misunderstanding, and twisted facts.

Perhaps responding to the recent acquisition of substantial bequests that make the Mullis Center financially secure at last, this grievance group has purchased ads and developed multiple websites and postings, full of charges of mismanagement. Their smear campaign aims to take over the center’s board in the coming election. What is lacking here is anything beyond a vague mention of improving management if they succeed. Based on their prior activities, the group appears to want to divert the center into becoming a patriotic flag-centered organization, mainly serving veterans’ needs. Another possibility is that they want to restrict services at the center to conservative causes, basically becoming the alt-right center for San Juan Island. These are not appropriate goals for a senior center.

One recent claim for this group is that the center “took away your vote.” In 2019, the current board revised and updated its 2002 bylaws to meet present conditions. By not giving proper notice for the meeting revising the bylaws, the court required this new election and restoration of the old bylaws.

Why eliminate the election for board members in the new bylaws? The 2002 bylaws specified a board size of 15 members, a total not achieved for many years. Annual elections had a very low turnout. I have been a member since 2007. Before this election, there were never more candidates than positions to be filled. A vote with no choices is not meaningful to most members. That is the reason most nonprofit organizations do not have members vote for their board these days — because there is no competition for board seats; they have a hard time finding enough people to serve on their boards.

As always, the mission of the current Mullis Center board is to continue to provide and expand services to all residents over 60 or disabled on SJI. No special interests; serving ALL.

Vote and reject this attempted takeover of our senior center!

Rita Weisbrod

San Juan Island