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Charter

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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Dear Editor,

 

If you look at the work the Charter Review Commission (CRC) has done, it is clear that the volunteer members have a deep concern for San Juan County and are working hard to correct problems in the Home Rule Charter. Personal attacks on CRC members are not productive or justified. The CRC has interviewed most of the key leaders in local government who have experience working within the charter structure. These leaders including former County Commissioners, Council Members, as well as administrative and elected department heads, have brought their experiences and concerns to our group.

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Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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When the charter was written we freeholders were careful to include a provision for reviewing it in five years. We specified a “Charter Review Commission” to perform this task in order to make the adjustments that would inevitably be needed for something so new.

The process of forming this review group has taken place and the CRC has started its deliberations. I say deliberations, but in reality I’m thunderstruck at what has really taken place.

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Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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Editor

With regard to the discussion about the election of the Charter Review Committee members on November 8th, I would like to suggest that we not elect former freeholders to the committee.

I worry that new members might be tempted to defer to the opinions of the original committee members. At the same time I worry that former freeholders might feel protective of the decisions that were made in the past.

The new committee will have the notes of discussions and interviews that took place during the Charter formation period. They could also interview any former freeholders, if they want to. But an all-new committee will bring fresh ideas based on the experience of the last 6 years and no baggage with them.

Sincerely,

Sarah Crosby

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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San Juan County moved to a Charter form of government so citizens could have greater representation and involvement in their government. We voted the Charter in, and now it is time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Home Rule. I am running for the Charter Review Commission because I want to have a voice in my government.

I do not have fixed notions of how the Charter should be changed, but I do have ideas. I believe the Charter is worth keeping, and should be monitored more regularly than the ten year interval that is currently written into the document. More importantly, I have questions about our Charter government and I want the chance to discuss my ideas with other citizens.

I hope the voters of San Juan County to take the Charter Review Commission election seriously. We need a new slate of people on this Commission to examine some of the decisions and practices of our government. Every vote counts, every vote matters.

Maureen See

Candidate for Charter Review Commission

District 1 (San Juan Island)

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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Janice Peterson
District 2 Candidate for Charter Review Commission (CRC)

In my opinion, the voters of San Juan County have an excellent group of candidates to choose from in electing the 21 local residents who will serve for a year in reviewing our Charter. Because there are so many of us running, however, there will be limited opportunities for voters to evaluate our qualifications and positions. For this reason, I am writing this statement and I invite others to do the same. I hope the local news media will ask questions and conduct interviews.

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Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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An open letter to the members of the Charter Review Commission:

I think you have been doing a thoughtful job, and I applaud you for your work thus far. It seems unfortunate that a member of the prior Commission which drafted the current charter is protesting your work.

You were all duly elected by your districts, and I believe you’ve taken your responsibility very seriously. The fact that you don’t agree with all that the prior Commission did just shows the experience we’ve all had with their Charter -- which was a huge change from what went before and actually an untested form of government.

I believe the experience we've had with that Charter shows that the constitutional form of county government is more responsive, more efficient, and certainly more affordable than what they crafted. Electing representatives by district rather than county-wide has proved to be a disaster, the costs are out of sight, and calling candidates "non-partisan" definitely doesn't remove their individual biases.

Thank you for your careful deliberations. Keep up the good work!

Louise Dustrude

Friday Harbor

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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Dear Editor,

When the citizens of San Juan County voted in a Home Rule Charter in November 2005, we voted for the right to have a greater representation and involvement in our government.  This November we have an important opportunity to cast our votes for a new Charter Review commission who will review the first five years and recommend any changes, WE THE VOTERS think is necessary and vital to the Home Rule Charter.

We need fresh eyes to be on this new Commission. We, as citizens, need to ask tough questions about the last five years of government and evaluate what is working and what is not working.

Is the six person County Council an effective form of leadership for our County's needs?  Are the six County Council members performing their duties in a non-partisan way?

Is the separation of powers between the County Council and the County Administrator an effective means of running the County government? Has the Home Rule Charter been "revenue neutral" as promised during the last campaign? Does the curent election by districts adequately serve the entire San Juan County Do we have too many elected officials for a County this size? Do the citizens of our County understand the powers of initiative and referendum?

The voters of San Juan County have an important job this November The ballot will contain measures and candidate choices that will impact our County well into the future.  If voters are indifferent to this election, it will be ten more years before the Home Rule Charter can be examined again.

Thank you,

Marilyn Gresseth

Friday Harbor

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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To All Candidates for the San Juan County Charter Review Commission:

I urge you not to give in to political blackmail from the Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR), a special interest group headquartered in the Seattle area. Several if not all non-partisan candidates for the first Charter Review Commission to be elected in November recently received an email from CAPR which asked candidates to commit to support its partisan position on property rights in advance of the election in November.

Specifically CAPR asked candidates to pledge in advance of the election to "not use the power of my office to advance the regulation, loss of use, taking, or damage to any private property without just compensation to the owner having first been made." Candidates also received a not very veiled threat of a negative rating by CAPR if they do not sign the pledge and do not answer a follow-up questionnaire to CAPR's liking.

Please do not sign the pledge. Do not tie your hands before the first meeting of the new commission. While such a position on property rights may seem reasonable
to some, it is overly broad, open to interpretation, and can have unforeseen adverse effects.

Even if you are sympathetic to the pledge, be aware that the electorate expects elected candidates for non-partisan public offices such as this to take office with an open mind and to not be beholden to any special interests such as CAPR.

Before deciding whom to vote for, I urge all voters to ask the candidates from your district for the Charter Review Commission if they have signed this pledge from a
Seattle-area organization.

David Dehlendorf
San Juan Island

Letters to Editor - Charter Review Commission

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Dear Editor,

I notice letters and opinion pieces lately urging Islanders not to consider changes to our County Charter during the upcoming review. I remember one of the main selling points of moving to a Charter Government was so that we could consider and vote on changes to it every five or ten years.

I can think of several important questions to be asked of the review committee that we will soon elect:

  • The switch to Charter Government promised to be revenue neutral. What happened with that?
  • Did expanding the council from 3 to 6 members result in better decisions? Or any cost savings?
  • The switch to a super majority requirement has allowed minority votes to now determine county policy. Did we really want to give up majority rule?
  • I don't know the answers to these, or several others questions that come to mind, but I hope Island voters will pay close attention to this Charter Review Committee election in November and put new people on that committee who will ask tough questions and give our local government all the attention it deserves.

Regards,

Lee Sturdivant

Friday Harbor

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