County council candidate conversations | Part 3

Candidates Lovel Pratt and Bob Jarman - Contributed photo
Candidates Lovel Pratt and Bob Jarman
— image credit: Contributed photo


The revamped three-person council was approved by the voters in November. The three members will be elected county-wide from “residency districts” comprising San Juan, Orcas and Lopez and nearby smaller islands in an April 23 election. The election will be certified on May 7, and the new council members will be seated on May 13.Council member Bob Jarman and former council member Lovel Pratt are running for the San Juan Island District 1 position.

Bob Jarman

Sounder: What is the single most critical issue facing county residents?

BJ: Our county residents are concerned about being able to make a living, provide for their families, and hang on to their property. Our economy in the islands is going to be directly affected by the implementation of the Critical Area Ordinance and Shoreline Management Plan. Hardest hit will be the building trades, our small farmers and property owners. We were able to push the implementation of the CAO forward to December, giving us time to hear the results of the lawsuits before the GMA Board.  Adjustments and compromises need to be made so that our economy can grow stronger going forward with as few government encumbrances as possible, while maintaining our county’s rural character.

Our county council needs to find ways to promote commerce and sustainable jobs through technology, health care, the building trades, tourism, real estate sales, and agriculture so that our county residents can afford to live in these beautiful islands.

Sounder: What issues or projects would you take a leadership role on if elected?

BJ: I am currently a member of the Building Advisory Committee, and if re-elected, would like to remain on that committee. We are identifying and reviewing our outdated codes and codes that can be simplified, thereby streamlining the process of getting a building/land use permit. For example, “One stop shopping” (being able to go to one place without having to go to several different agencies). The committee is looking at better cooperation between our building and planning department staff to meet the needs of our citizens. I want to work on boosting the morale of our county employees by building trust with the council through openness, honesty and mutual respect, which will in turn create better customer service.

We want to set up office hours on Orcas and Lopez so those islanders’ needs can be met more easily. We’re also in the process of setting up a committee to hear complaints from builders and home/land owners regarding the permit process. The committee will be comprised of their peers and will bring the complaints forward with its recommendations to the council. This will eliminate people with permit complaints from having to go before the Hearing Examiner at the cost of $2,500 for the complaint to be heard. I believe this committee is vital to our community.

Sounder: Which government agencies have the most influence on San Juan County, and why?

BJ: I believe the Department of Ecology is the government agency with the most influence in our county. It is a part of all land-use issues, including our Critical Area Ordinances, and sets the rules regarding water quality, air quality, storm water, etc. In addition,  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are all involved in our policy-making.

It is important to keep two-way conversations going with our state representatives and legislators. Keeping on top of issues that affect our county means having an open dialog with those in Olympia, necessitating travel to Olympia at times for “face-to-face” conversations.

Sounder: How do you plan to balance the county budget? Do you support renewal of Prop. 1, the voter-approved property tax increase that expires at the end of 2015?

BJ: In setting budgets, the council needs to remember that our county’s primary responsibilities are “Public Safety (Public Works), Health, and Law & Justice.” In the few months that I have been a sitting council member, we have had requests for money from agencies that are non-budgeted items. I have voted no.

The only way to reduce taxes and balance the budget is to reduce spending and encourage commerce. We need to define what our functions/priorities are and then how we want to go about funding them. What are our acceptable levels of service?

I do not support renewal of Prop. 1, and will work diligently to hold the line on budget expenses, delving deep into our spending patterns and cutting any unnecessary expenditures. In my nine years working with the (San Juan Island Fire Department) and 30 years with the phone company, I have been responsible for budgets in the millions and know how to “do more with less.” With my leadership I’ve maintained a positive work environment, positive morale and mutual trust amongst my peers and employees.

Sounder: What do you bring to the table that is different from the other candidates and why did you decide to run?

BJ: I have made my living in these islands for over 38 years. I understand the difficulties, as well as the joys, of living and working here. I have been a manager, an employer, and an employee. I know how to get a job done efficiently while working cooperatively with many agencies. I do not micromanage. I listen to all sides and make decisions based on what, in my opinion, is best for all. I am open and honest in my dealings. I will always work for the betterment of my community.

I decided to run for county council after spending the last four years being very frustrated with the way our county was being run. My friends, colleagues and family members were equally frustrated. Instead of just complaining and judging, I decided to try to do something about it.

Luckily, I had the support of my family and friends. It’s been a long year of campaigning. It’s been worth it. I’ve met wonderful people all over these islands that have the same goal as I do… to  maintain our rural, island way of life while trying to stimulate our economy and respecting our environment.

Lovel Pratt

Sounder: What is the single most critical issue facing county residents?

LP: Maintaining and enhancing our quality of life is the single most critical issue facing county residents now and into the future. Many of us have stayed here or chosen to live here because of family and friends, because this is a beautiful place, because we appreciate the rural lifestyle, and/or because we value being active participants in a small community. Maintaining and enhancing this quality of life includes having opportunities for year-round, family-wage jobs; access to affordable and stable housing and health care; a healthy and vibrant environment which is the foundation of our economy; and support for a diverse and civily engaged community.

Sounder: What issues or projects would you take a leadership role on if elected?

LP: Advocating for San Juan County at the regional, state, federal, and international levels was a focus of mine during my first term on the council and I am committed to continuing to provide this essential leadership. We cannot address many of the challenges we face only from within San Juan County. We need to address ferry transportation issues in Olympia and with other ferry-served communities in Puget Sound. State and federal funding of essential county-delivered services must be addressed with our state and federal legislators. We need to address oil spill prevention, readiness, and response with the Coast Guard, our state and federal representatives and government agency officials, the tribes, and our Canadian neighbors whose border we share. I will continue to take a leadership role in response to the proposed coal terminal, which has no benefits and only potential negative impacts to San Juan County. I am proud of my work to secure the scoping meeting held in San Juan County that so many islanders attended.

I will take a greater leadership role to ensure that islanders feel welcome to participate in the work of the council and that citizen engagement is civil. I will work to improve my own and the council’s communications, providing more accurate and up to date information. Having accurate information and civil engagement are critical in order for people to feel welcome to participate in county government.

Sounder: Which governmental agencies have the most influence on San Juan County, and why?

LP: Given that we all ride the ferries and travel on county roads, the government agency that likely most affects residents and visitors is the Washington State Department of Transportation. Many other state agencies also have significant influence. For example, the state auditor oversees all expenses and disbursements in the county, the secretary of state supervises our elections, the state attorney general guides our prosecuting attorney, and our sheriff must coordinate with numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies. Because we are on an international border and our waters are highways to the world as well as habitat for endangered species, agencies such as Homeland Security, Customs, Coast Guard, and NOAA are all influential. Finally, the court system likely plays a larger role in San Juan County, particularly in regard to land-use issues, than it does in other comparable counties. State and federal laws are carried out by various state and federal agencies, but, ultimately, the court system has the final say on laws and their implementation.

Sounder: How do you plan to balance the county budget? Do you support renewal of Prop. 1, the voter-approved property tax increase that expires at the end of 2015?

LP: By law, the county budget must be balanced. I will continue to carefully steward taxpayer funds and other county revenues. I will continue to work towards a long-term sustainable budget, and I will advocate to further increase the reserve funds I helped to establish in order to address future economic downturns.

The voter approved levy lid-lift created a local mandate for county programs and services that are not mandated by state or federal law. These include senior services, public health services, WSU Extension programs, county parks, and the Islands Oil Spill Association. I support the renewal of the levy lid lift and the reaffirmation of a local mandate for county programs and services. It will be important to get citizen input on the programs and services funded by the levy lid-lift as well as the funding amount. The Community Conversations are providing an important forum for citizen input and I urge everyone to participate. More information is available at

Sounder: What do you bring to the table that is different from the other candidates and why did you decide to run?

LP: I bring the support of many islanders with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds. Over 350 supporters have signed up to be listed on my campaign website and in ads; 184 supporters have made campaign contributions. Donations have come from San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, Shaw, Waldron and Stuart islands.

I am running for election because I am an effective community leader and county advocate. County priorities must be championed beyond San Juan County by elected representatives on the council. Many county priorities require state or federal action and/or funding. I have built effective relationships with our state and federal representatives and their staffs, and with state and federal agency decision-makers. I am committed to making the time to do this important work on behalf of San Juan County, in addition to attending to the many duties of the council on island.

My public service on the council has been my proudest professional accomplishment and is the work that I love. I ask for your vote to represent all islanders on the county council.

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