The upcoming council election has candidates from each district who give voters a welcome alternative to the prior council’s approach to governing.
Brian McClerren from Lopez, Bob Jarman and Marc Forlenza from San Juan and Rick Hughes, Greg Ayers and Lisa Byers from Orcas Island were not part of the prior council that imposed the mind-numbing Critical Areas Ordinance on the citizens of the county. Except for Lisa Byers, whose career has been with government funded non-profits, all the candidates listed above have recent private sector experience.
Despite the council/charter elections being non-partisan, the progressive liberal wing of the San Juan County Democrat Party is supporting candidates Lisa Byers, Lovel Pratt and Jamie Stephens.
Greg Ayers and Rick Hughes, Marc Forlenza and Bob Jarman and Brian McCleeren are keeping faith with the non-partisan provision of the SJC Charter. Theirs is a principled but difficult stand to take when facing candidates benefiting from the money and momentum that party politics generates.
There is a choice to make. Past Council Members Jamie Stephens and Lovel Pratt never saw an off-island grant-funded program they didn’t like. With their approval, our county government ended up with staff, funding and/or agendas from powerful off-island organizations including the Puget Sound Partnership, Northwest Straits, Salmon Recovery, Tribes and the Department of Ecology. These groups are directly funding programs for Eco-Net, the Friends and the SJC Marine Resources Committee who, in turn, vigorously support the off-island agendas to the council and planning staff.
With this outside influence, the prior council voted consistently for extensive new restrictions on the public, has re-written our Comprehensive Plan and ignored the balance required by Growth Management Act for land use planning. The impact on local businesses, working families, property owners and our fragile local economy has been largely ignored.
Voters have the opportunity to choose and support the non-partisan candidates; candidates who understand that a council members job is to direct and manage county government, not direct and manage the citizens of San Juan County.