Friday, July 15, 2016

Island County Commissioners

Island County Commissioners

Island County Commissioner, district 1

There being only two candidates, this is another race which is mostly a preview for the fall main event. And you can only vote in this race if you live in District 1.

Helen Price-Johnson and I do not see eye to eye (and that’s putting it mildly) on many important issues. In fact, I think I can say that she hates me and wishes I would leave Island County forever. Sadly, at the moment she’s the best county commissioner we have. She is not evil. She just has a very narrow focus, that focus being small business. She cannot see that by protecting Island County’s environment we are protecting the jobs that come from tourism, among other things.

Her challenger, Gary Wray, is a rather loose cannon who appears occasionally at county hearings where he ‘testifies’ irrelevantly and clearly does not understand what is on the agenda or what the issues are. I do not judge him as capable of carrying out the duties of a county commissioner. We have the recent experience of Kelly Emerson to show us how that turns out.

Helen is plenty popular, so I may sit this one out. If I do vote, it will be for Helen Price-Johnson.

Helen Price-Johnson, incumbent   D         helen@helenpricejohnson.o
Small Business:  Helen understands that to preserve our rural character, Island County needs a balanced economic strategy.  
Doing business with local companies is vital to the stability of our local economic future.  The sales taxes generated locally help support local government services such as transit, mental health  and criminal justice programs. 
Helen supports the efforts of our local farms, restaurants, and markets in creating a sustainable Farm to Table infrastructure and Farm to Market programs.  We can enhance tourism, sustain local families and protect our quality of life by investing in those things which we treasure, such as farmland, open space, and small businesses.

Transportation:  Island County is dependent upon regional connections for our transportation needs. Helen has provided strong advocacy at the regional and state level for small counties served by ferries, so as to preserve service levels for the two routes serving Whidbey Island. Further she has been a leader in promoting non-motorized trails on both Camano and Whidbey Islands for both bicyclists and marine access.
Environment and Growth:  Helen believes we must accommodate the growth coming to our islands while preserving the quality of life which makes Island County such a wonderful place to live.  Her balanced approach and visionary leadership has been essential in sustaining our economy and protecting our environment.
Helen has spent much of her second term as Commissioner working to preserve Conservation Futures funding and updating the Island County Comprehensive Plan and Shorelines Master Plan.  Her participation with the Coastal Caucus of the Washington Association of Counties and the Salmon Recovery Council of the Puget Sound Partnership has heightened her ability to advocate for Island County and its natural environment.
Law and Justice: Keeping our island communities safe is a high priority for Helen.  With the improving economy, and with her support and advocacy, the Commissioners have restored the majority of the pre-2009 funding to Island County's law and justice programs without a tax increase.  
Helen helped to bring attention to the rise of property crime related to addiction in her district. Helen has recently supported immediate investments in the Island County Jail related to safety and security of inmates and jail personnel.  She believes, however, that significant changes in the delivery of mental health services are necessary on a statewide basis in order to effect real change. Local jails have become the primary mental health facilities for the state. This has created a crisis in Washington.

Gary Wray                 R
A message from Gary -
For many years, I have been involved in several community organizations, on both the local and state levels. At this time, given the urging from numerous Island County citizens, I have decided that it is necessary for me to run for this position in order to effect change—smart change!
I believe the County Commissioner’s paramount duty is to create a balanced budget that sets priorities in spending for essential government services, such as law, justice, human health and safety. I will be a watchdog of the taxpayer’s dollar.
My experience working on a number of Boards and non-profit organizations has given me strong skills in collaboration and conflict resolution.
As a facilitator, I welcome in put from all citizens of the county, even if we don’t initially see eye-to-eye. It is my intention to balance citizens advisory boards to reflect our island’s diverse backgrounds. I will not represent any special interest group and pledge to keep the best interests of the county in mind.
Government transparency and open public meetings are critically important to me. I welcome citizen involvement and participation at all levels.

Island County Commissioner, district 2

And here’s the second great race of this election. I do not believe Jill Johnson is competent in the position she now holds, as evidenced by the many points I raise below. I very briefly met Dustin Amundsen. I disagree with him on some fundamental points, namely his belief in the primacy of the navy and law enforcement. I believe in that ounce of prevention. Perhaps if a young couple can get out into the woods they won’t feel so uptight that they start beating on each other. There are studies and statistics which bear this out.

And then I met John Fowkes. We ended up talking for an hour after the end of the meeting. We agree on nearly everything. I like his spunk. Anyone who can grow up in Oak Harbor and not lose his soul carries a lot of points with me. He is obviously a political novice, but then most people who run for county commissioner are. He is also obviously a quick study, which is something I value in a public official.

I live in District 1, and one has to vote only within the district in the primaries, so I will not be able to vote for John Fowkes in the primary. Assuming he survives the primary, I will be voting for John Fowkes in the general election.

Jill Johnson, incumbent                  R
found no website for her. The Facebook page was mostly personal.

I found a favorable write-up in Island Politics, the far-right toxic blog, dating back to 2012.

My personal experiences with Jill have been uniformly negative. She clearly does not understand the basics of how government works or how one deals with multiple points of view on a particular issue. She has specifically asked me (and partner Steve) to please retire so she won’t have to deal with us anymore. Sorry Jill. Ain’t happening. She chose to go behind the backs of the public and Island Beach Access to negotiate a deal with the man who built the wall across the road at Greenbank. She really did not understand that she was giving away the store. She has said on the record that she sees no reason to abide by the rulings of the Growth Management Hearings Board, since she intends to appeal them anyway. And she has led the charge to defy the Hearings Board. And then she wonders why we feel constrained to haul her into court. It is Jill Johnson who has killed the Conservation Futures Fund which Helen Price-Johnson has been working so hard to keep alive. Jill really can’t see the value of protecting land in public ownership for the good of the entire community.

She also happens to be massively petty. Hearings devolve into something out of 4th grade. It becomes embarrassing. I don’t know if she reads the actual language on which she is expected to rule, but she clearly does not understand it. Which loops back around to major arguments and eventually having to appeal yet again to the Growth Management Hearings Board. It does become a vicious cycle.

Dustin Amundson    R

I didn’t think there were Republicans in unions, but Mr Amudson is the VP of AFSCME local 18451.

Planning and Development

Island County is facing growth. It is my belief our current planning and development department is behind, overwhelmed and not handling the issuing of permits in a timely manner. This is delaying responsible development and at the same time preventing it. We need stronger leadership at the commissioner level to improve trust and operational ability. 

Law and Justice

I support without reservation our law and justice community. I also recognize that we can only do so much with the resources we have. In order to improve, we must save in other areas to provide appropriate funding. I do not believe in hiring non-elected outside counsel which is currently taking place is responsible leadership.

Financial Transparency

The citizens of Island County deserve transparent leadership especially in financial matters. There will always be competing priorities. Residents need to know where their tax dollars are going and how it is being spent. I intend to make the motive behind financial affairs transparent.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island

I support the Naval Air Station and all of its operations. The men and women who fly the Growler need the outlying fields for training purposes. I worked at the solid waste facility for 10 + years with jets flying daily and have suffered no ill effects from it. 

Island County needs strong leadership now more than ever. I have a lifetime of faithful public service with Navy, Fire and County. Island County is facing considerable growth which will require cooperation at all levels of government. My experience with the county as a negotiator showed a great need to improve communications and transparency.
I will ensure that Island County citizens, management and employees have the clearest understanding of what their County is doing. I have the leadership skills of communication, credibility, capability and confidence.
I am the leader our Island's need. "Leadership Matters"

John Fowkes D

Q - What will be your top three priorities, if elected?

The next board of commissioners will face the growth coming to our islands as the military expands at NASWI and that growth needs to be balanced to preserve the quality of life and the environment. Through this process we also need to remember our owner operated businesses, especially small retail shops, restaurants, and places to stay as these places add that friendly character that are loved by locals and tourists.

I would like to see solutions that take the fear out of business start-ups and recognise those who build businesses through their own sweat-equity. We need to support our local artisans and create an atmosphere where cottage industry and local farming thrives. In this way we can  work on local jobs and climate change.

Island County Residents are seeing their share of struggles. Struggles for employment, Struggles with mental health, hopelessness, Drug addiction, Crime, Incarceration and we are right back to struggles for employment.   If we can stop this cycle we can save resources. Island County needs to review their mental health policies.  Housing First!

Q - What measures do you favor to keep your county economically viable?

I believe that supporting locally owned, owner controlled and operated businesses are better both economically and culturally. Small firms create 60% to 80% of new jobs in the US and rarely leave a hole too big to be filled by small competing local businesses. Local owners tend to work with other locals first keeping the money in the local economy longer. Locally owned firms tend to support local cultural events, youth sports teams, and non-profits more readily. I believe that ecotourism is good for Island County and small unique retail shops and restaurants add to the charm for locals and visitors alike.

Q - How do you view balancing development with protecting our natural resources?

We need to balance development with protecting our natural resources. When deciding on the balance it should be for the welfare of the people at large, not just the few.  Access to public beaches must be protected for the sake of tourism and quality of life and residents must be heard, and represented in their concerns for policies that may impact their lives.

Q - What is your stand on global warming?

Regardless of whether global warming is a natural phenomenon or a man made catastrophe this should be one point that is agreed upon by all citizens.  Island County will feel the effects of global warming and it will be a challenge especially as sea levels rise and sandy bluffs are undermined by erosion.  Higher tides, (up to 4 feet above current high tides now, predicted by 2030) with roads and buildings very close to sea level could prove a real challenge in the future of Island County.

Q - If you believe your area is affected by unusual weather patterns, what actions would you support to mitigate these effects?

Bringing a group of local experts together to form a "Climate change preparedness team" (if we do not have team covering this already) would be a great start.  #actonclimate.

1 comment:

  1. Marianne, I would like to use quotes from your blog for John Fowkes webpage. I would also like to make a link from his site to your bolg.
    Please let me know if this is possible.
    Thank you P. Fowkes