Lovel Pratt, former council member from District #1 and former planning commissioner supported the changes to the Charter. “There are advantages to having three council members elected county-wide,” she said. “It’s important for the council to make decisions holistically for the entire county-wide community.“
She’s enjoyed campaigning throughout the county meeting more people than during her last campaign which was for re-election.
She attributes her defeat in November 2012 to being outspent 4-1. For this campaign she dropped her self-imposed cap of $50 per donation.
At the April 5 debate, she responded to criticism about her fundraising by noting the establishment of a PAC (political action committee) which has given money to other candidates. PACs do not have limits on the dollar amount of contributions.
The other reason for her defeat, she said, was her limited time available for campaigning due to working 60 hours a week as a council member. A silver lining in her campaign loss was the time to campaign full-time. She’s spent her time meeting people and been able to “make connections county-wide”.
Biggest challenge facing the county: “We need to work to improve communications,” she said. This includes communicating with the public by providing better venues for citizens to communicate with each other on specific issues and for citizens to communicate with the council on specific issues. She’d like to see more civility during the discussions noting she’s heard from people who won’t attend the county’s public meetings because “they can’t stomach” the hostile atmosphere. “More civility will benefit benefit us tremendously on the issues we’re facing,” she said.
Manager’s role: She’s concerned how creating the job description plays out considering the alignment of the hiring process and the election of the new three member council. She noted the current council changed the county adopted a resolution wherever it said county administrator becomes the duties of the county manager. Regarding the duties of the new county manager "much depends on the person – what their skills are and what their background is,” she said. At the debate, she said she would like to see an ordinance adopted describing the manager’s duties.
Role of County Council Members: “The council has to act as a body,” she said. One council member can’t unilaterally act along. “It could be that the duties are divvied up to follow through on decisions made by the body. It has to be a open process...This can be an effective way for the council to work with the manager,” she said. Pratt says while the council as a whole sets policy it may be appropriate at times for a council member to be a liaison with the specific projects...I appreciate creating liaisons with advisory committees.
County services/staff: Improving county morale: all professional development was cut during the last few years. The employees deserve to get all the training they need to provide the best customer service. Everybody has had to do more with less and they have really risen to the challenge. We need to communicate the successes,” she said. “Especially during these challenging times. With the interim manager and another election she think it must be a very stressful time for employees. During her time as a county council member she tried to stress her appreciation. “I don’t think the citizens are aware of how many amazing services and programs the county does. They may only interact with CD&P (Community Developing and Planning), or paying taxes at the Treasurer’s office or renewing their license plates at the auditor’s office.
CAO (Critical Areas Ordinance): Pratt says the former council she was a member of along with Patty Miller, Jamie Stephens, Richard Fralick, Howie Rosenfeld and Rich Peterson (who was the sole no vote) were right to approve the CAO. She said Fralick made an eloquent statement on why it would have been irresponsible not to finish.
She said it was the purview of the new council to change it if they wanted to. She believes more education and communication about the CAO would help alleviate the anxiety that exists. At the request of a realtor she sat down with him and went over the details. "He said, 'Oh, it's not what I thought it was'.," she said. She agrees the ordinances are complicated but it's because it is site-specific instead of a one-size fits all. The tailored approach was done at the request of the public.
Economy: Pratt believes broadband can provide the infrastructure necessary to establish year-round, family-wage jobs that can be a good fit with the county's rural environment.
"I devoted a lot of time to the wireless ordinance adoption process, working with stakeholders and staff to ensure that community goals and concerns were addressed, and then working with my fellow Council Members to adopt an ordinance that balances industry needs with property ownership rights and quality of life issues," she said.
Agriculture is also an important part of the economy according to Pratt. "Agriculture, including added value products and the local foods that are featured at our fine restaurants, has the potential to provide more jobs, enhance local food security, sustain our rural landscape, and increase tourism," she said. "Local agriculture, local foods, and local art are all part of a strong local economy that fosters our island way of life."
She was involved in the Brickworks project while project director for the Agriculture Guild.
"Brickworks is providing the vibrant community center and market and event location that was envisioned. Brickworks is a business incubator for farmers, food processors, and artisans, providing the potential to generate yet more jobs in our community, more storefronts, and potentially internet-based businesses as well," she said. "Brickworks is an economic development success and I am proud to have provided leadership in creating the vision and initiating its development."
Innovation: She would like to have the Monday staff workshops reinstated in order to make sure the neccessary information for agenda items would be available for the Tuesday meetings. The staff meetings could also provide a way for one member to bring up an issue a constituent had mentioned and the council as a whole could decide whether it should be on a future agenda.
She's also like to see informal Monday meetings/workshops held during which topics could be discussed fully and the Tuesday meetings then used as business meetings.
Lovel hopes the voters understand her passion for public service and desire to help the community through serving on the county council. More information about her previous work history and extensive volunteer work in the community can be found on her website.