Fire commissioner resigns due to ‘toxic’ community members | Letter to the Editor

In order to clarify the reasons behind my resignation from the Orcas Island Fire & Rescue Board of Fire Commissioners, the full content of my February 1 resignation letter follows.

Dear BOFC members, OIFR members, and interested community members:

It’s with a heavy heart that I must resign from the BOFC, effective immediately. When I joined the commission nearly three years ago, I was happy to contribute my skills and knowledge to the benefit of my community. However, it’s become increasingly clear that there are some members of our community who continue to work from the toxic belief that the commission is somehow at odds with the interests of our community, and these people are continually trying to poison any positive steps the commission attempts to make. This invented drama has permeated every avenue of my life here, and I am no longer willing to sacrifice my own happiness or my love of Orcas to continue to try to serve.

To the OIFR team: I appreciate you and all the service you do for the community, and I believe in the efforts that are underway to realign the department’s culture in a positive and productive way, including the new hires.

To the BOFC members: I’m sorry. I tried to stick it out, and I simply cannot. You each have a vast amount of knowledge and experience, and I am proud to know and serve with each of you. I’m confident in your ability to lead the district.

And to the vocal minority of Orcas: I am a strong proponent of citizen oversight and government accountability. Respectful disagreements among community members are an important part of governance. Sadly, the tone and content of some have crossed the line and become personal as opposed to substantive. This board, like all boards, is made up of people, and sometimes people don’t say things exactly right, but I am confident that each member is trying their best. I had hoped that neighbors could assume good intentions of each other. Instead, the comfort in which certain members of our community can impugn the character of those who choose to try to serve is troubling on many levels and has a profoundly negative impact on civic engagement. I can certainly confirm that I will never again agree to serve in a public role. So, think about this the next time you see that commissions can’t fill seats or there aren’t enough candidates in local elections.

Janet Marlow

Orcas Island