Letters | Oct. 21 edition

Ghazel is the best candidate

With the Orcas Island Public School District facing large and important programs in the next several years, quality leadership and proven ability are what we need in our school board members. Tony Ghazel has certainly demonstrated those qualities in his years on the school board, and I believe it is in the community’s interests that he be re-elected to the board. The board is facing challenges in funding and improving the physical plant, and continuity in demonstrated leadship is particularly important now. I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with Tony over the past several years and have always been impressed with his intelligence, common sense and dedication to providing quality education for the children of Orcas.

Bob Lundeen

Deer Harbor

Endorsement for Ghazel

On the subject of the upcoming School Board election, I’m writing this letter of support for Tony Ghazel from the Orcas Education Association. For the past several years, Tony has served the students, parents, faculty and staff of our district very well. He has diligently worked toward not only solving local problems such as budget management, policy making and facility improvement, he has also established key legislative contacts in Olympia, and has spent many hours outside his regular duties working toward making sure the state follows its own constitutional obligation to adequately fund public schools. For these and many other reasons, we teachers recommend that voters re-elect Tony Ghazel for the position of School Board member. End of subject.

Gregory Books

Science Teacher, OEA Member

No conflict for Sullivan

In last week’s paper there was a letter from Steve Kline voicing concern about the candidacy of Jim Sullivan. Yes, it is true that Jim’s wife is a teacher at the school. Washington law explicitly allows for a person to serve in this position as long as his spouse is employed there before the election. The school board is responsible for only one employee, and that is the Superintendent. The only time he would need to excuse himself is in ratifying a collective bargining agreement. I believe Jim has done his homework on this issue and has “thought it through” and that he would make a good board member.

Scott Lancaster

Member OISD Board

Response to Aldort’s letter

I feel that I must respond to the assertions of Mr. Aldort that he wrote in his letter to the editor in last weeks’ Sounder, which stated that I do not understand the position of an Eastsound Sewer and Water District Commissioner. Mr. Aldort’s comments indicate a lack of understanding of a District Commissioner’s role in supporting clean and pure groundwater. His statements clearly indicated that I have a lack of focus on sewer systems. As indicated in my statements in the Voters’ Guide, responses to the Sounder, and orcasissues.com, it is clear that this is not true. As a matter of fact, orcasissues’ questions included the following phrase: “the Sewer District’s primary mandate is to ensure the safety of the water in its area,” which showed that the reason the sewer exists is to protect our groundwater, not to have a sewer exist for the sake of a sewer. As a physician, I can tell you that no one has directly died as a result of not having a sewer system per se, while millions die each year of contaminated groundwater.

This is an important election, primarily because of the increasing threat to our island’s water supply from ever increasing septic field failures and population growth. Therefore, I reject Mr. Aldort’s statement that I should withdraw from the race, because I believe that I am the candidate that understands the full picture of the District’s function and needs. As stated before, as an engineer, physician and businessman, I understand the technical issues, the public health consequences of inadequate wastewater management, and the need for affordable service. The primary reason for a sewer system is to ensure the safety of our island’s water supply, and, if elected, I will work tirelessly to achieve this objective.

Gregory M Ayers, MD, PhD


Support for Ayers

Greg Ayers is clearly very well qualified for the position of Eastsound Sewer and Water District (ESWD) Commissioner by his extensive background as an engineer, physician and businessman.

I have served on the Eastsound Water Users Association Board for more than ten years. I have had the opportunity to speak with Greg extensively about his interest in the ESWD Board position. He clearly understands all aspects of the system including the important role that the ESWD plays in protecting groundwater quality in the Eastsound aquifer.

The Water Association relies on underground water for about 50% of our total water supply. We lease a significant portion of our groundwater rights from the ESWD and Greg understands the important responsibility that ESWD has in protecting the water rights that all of us rely on. In fact some of our wells are located on land that is owned by the ESWD.

Contrary to a letter to the editor posted last week in the Sounder, I know that Greg has made a substantial effort to speak with the ESWD staff and board members and to become very familiar with the operations of the sewer plant. His background in science has allowed him to quickly understand all aspects of the system. He has no personal agenda. He will bring an open mind and a problem solving approach to the job. He would make a great Commissioner.

Please vote for Greg Ayers for Eastsound Sewer and Water District Commissioner Position #3.

Jim Nelson

Orcas Island

Endorsement for Bedell and Duke

We are all aware of the isolation Orcas Island has from the mainland, yet many choose to live here because of this. This isolation comes with its own unique hazards, especially to our safety and well-being. In times of crisis, a paramedic often makes the difference between life and death to a critically ill or injured family member. Orcas Fire and Rescue’s corps of paramedics and apparatus is specifically designed to address these emergencies by serving as “Mobile Emergency Rooms.”

My goal as medical director is to ensure that the OIFR is committed to increasing survival while reducing disability by providing the highest quality patient care. From a medical perspective, it is clear that this enhanced emphasis on prevention, education and training is reaping dividends though system efficiencies and patient recoveries. But this result does not occur without leadership. It is evident to me that the current Fire Commissioners are open to identifying new initiatives to achieve a goal of improved patient care coupled with cost savings.

In evaluating OIFR, one reason the EMS system is so effective is that programmatic efforts extend across different segments of the EMS system. These segments include: 1.) prevention, 2.) citizen and EMT training and use of automated defibrillators, 3.) a dispatch center where emergency calls are processed, and where dispatchers assist with emergency medical instructions, 4.) all-hazard rapid response by properly trained and equipped EMS personnel to emergencies, and 5.) aero medical transport to a hospital.

All this considered I support Clyde Duke and Barbara Bedell for fire commissioner. They have demonstrated an evaluation process that allows for careful analysis of this system. Board consensus generates constant improvement. Both candidates understand the operational and financial commitment required to fulfill the mission of OIFR. Both are committed to the strategic plan and its prudent implementation. As we grow more dependent on these critical services, we look to these leaders to continue making the difficult decisions concerning the direction and efficacy of emergency medical services here on Orcas Island.

Michael Sullivan, M.D.

Medical Director, OIFR

SJC Medical Program Director

Vote for Duke and Bedell

This year’s election for fire commissioner presents a clear choice between people in the community who believe that the Orcas Island Fire District spends money in a frivolous manner, and those of us who realize how hard the incumbent commissioners have worked with Chief Harris to build a solid and adequately equipped department while meeting budget constraints.

Before you cast your vote, I would urge you to visit the Orcas Island Fire District website (www.orcasfire.org). Find answers to issues that have been distorted in various letters to the editor, including why we need lighter and more flexible fire trucks, how the department has retained a fire truck mechanic and gained a fire fighter with no additional cost, how the community may benefit from its mandated fire marshal system, the need for a Deer Harbor fire station, and the recent acquisition of i-phones for use in medical emergencies.

Often labeled “gadgets,” for instance, the i-phones are in fact hi-tech medical computers, allowing an EMT volunteer on the island to transmit critical data to our medical emergency physician in Bellingham. The doctor can quickly assess a patient’s medical condition with far greater accuracy than he could do otherwise. Does every Orcas Islander need the best emergency response possible? Ask yourself whether a person in your own family would rather settle for by guess and by golly.

As for the fire station in Deer Harbor, there is no way the Eastsound station can effectively respond to either a medical emergency or a fire in Deer Harbor. This is a long-settled point that has been discussed to death. The fire station is a reality, with money to build it in the bank. Due to rising costs, however, the resulting building may remain a shell for the foreseeable future. Does this mean there’s no way for emergency medical staff to remain on call in the facility? The Deer Harbor community needs to recognize that it may be faced with continued inadequate coverage, putting our most fragile residents at risk.

With her years of consensus building in Deer Harbor, I urge you to vote for the incumbent fire district commissioner Barbara Bedell, position #3. Clyde Duke, position #2, brings to the table professional experience in the building trades and background as a volunteer firefighter, and should also be retained. Our incumbent commissioners are both needed in considering how best to wring every crucial dollar from the Deer Harbor project, and other issues facing our fire protection district.

Above all, I urge you to vote on this and other critical issues on Nov. 3.

Sara Williams

Deer Harbor

Concerns about Guimond

Since joining the Orcas Island Fire Department in 2001 as a firefighter and EMT, I have observed the administration and membership transition through unbelievable challenges to become what it is today: a well-oiled machine of exceptionally trained rescuers and medical personnel that responds 24/7 to assist in any crisis.

We strive for excellence because we care.

Providing you with this level of service demands hard work requiring strong leadership, dedication, support from within the community, and good governance with consensus from the fire commission.

Having attended the Board of Fire Commissioners meetings for months, I perceive fire commissioner candidate Pierrette Guimond’s actions to be everything but supportive of the mission of the fire department and the taxpayers’ vested interests.

Her accusations of careless spending and exclusive conduct from board members are false. The BOFC has used public funds in a very prudent, transparent manner, and I consider life-saving tools as money well spent, regardless of whether or not we live in a rural community.

In open meetings, while the district is faced with serious issues, she complains of the cost of printing one-sided documents versus two and janitorial supplies. She denounces the purchase of communication equipment such as iPhones for paramedics to instantly transmit heart monitor images to our medical control doctor on the mainland. This summer she brought her agenda to a fire department drill that interfered with training. This action was cited in a letter of complaint to the district.

If elected, her naïve perception of technical operations, lack of comprehension of policy governance, and focus on the minutiae and never the broader picture will have detrimental effects to the EMS service we currently provide. This is not what I consider good stewardship or fair representation.

We are a professional department, performing serious work. We need leadership equally concerned with that level of professionalism and seriousness of purpose.

I urge you to vote for a representative that truly has your life and property in her best interests. Barbara Bedell is the only real choice for Orcas Island Fire Commissioner position #3.

Julie Remington

Orcas Island

Support for Chris Sutton

When you read qualifications for different individuals, you notice they are basically the same. And when you read about their goals, there is very little difference. What sets Chris apart from others is who he is – Chris the person, not the candidate.

I met Chris while participating in the Orcas Rec program for five- and six-year-olds soccer. Now for some, maybe this doesn’t sound like a qualification for School Board Director, but believe me, it is. A person can be judged by who he is and what he does. Chris coached the kids. He taught them the importance of team play and getting along through discussion and sportsmanship. He resolved conflicts with parents through listening and advice. He was reliable and always there when needed. He understands kids and parents, and I believe will do an excellent job when elected.

Bill Gincig

Orcas Island

Support for Vandermay

Next month Orcas Islanders will have the opportunity to vote to create an Orcas Island Parks and Recreation district. This includes voting for five commissioners who will be in charge of determining how such a district will be designed to best work for Orcas Island. In addition to the four highly qualified unopposed candidates, I am firmly backing Vicki Vandermay for the Orcas Island Parks and Recreation District Commissioner – position #1.

For the last year I have had the opportunity to work with Vicki on Orcas Recreation’s Advisory Board. In this volunteer capacity, Vicki demonstrated her dedication to children, community, and organized recreational activities for people of all ages. During these difficult financial times, Vicki also has shown she is fiscally responsible and will work to maximize community benefit of a Parks and Recreation District while minimizing costs.

Parks and Recreation District Commissioners will be responsible for bringing all of the island’s existing recreational groups together to create a streamlined but functional recreation district that will benefit the entire island. Vicki is currently an officer of the Orcas public school PTSA and has served as the Executive Director of the Young Presidents’ Organization for seven years. She is a good listener and has the experience and skills needed for finding common ground among diverse groups.

When you get your November ballot, cast a Yes vote for creating an Orcas Island Parks and Recreation District and support Vicki Vandermay as a Commissioner.

Joe Gaydos


Vicki Vandermay for Orcas Rec

My name is Vicki Vandermay and I am running for Commissioner of the proposed Orcas Parks and Recreation District.

I believe that we can improve the recreational needs for our island through the formation of Orcas Parks and Recreation. I want to roll up my sleeves and work with the community and the other commissioners to create an effective and efficient program for all Orcas Islanders.

San Juan County has cut funding to many of the parks and all recreation programs on Orcas. This adversely affects our youth programs on Orcas Island. We must take charge. Forming Orcas Parks and Recreation will bring our hard earned money back home where we can spend it prudently to benefit our parks and recreation activities on Orcas Island.

Twenty-five years ago San Juan Parks and Recreation formed its own district and became independent from the County. It has worked effectively for them as they have developed a thriving parks and recreation program for their people. We will build on their successes and learn from their failures to create a unique district for Orcas Island.

I am passionate about youth and community recreation programs and look forward to representing your needs while I work in open collaboration with the other commissioners. Together, we will create a parks and recreation district that will benefit every Orcas Islander.

Please vote yes for Orcas Parks and Recreation and at the same time cast your vote for Vicki Vandermay, Commisioner Position #1.

Vicki Vandermay

Orcas Island

Vote “Yes” for Park and Recreation District

Why a new district to provide recreation programs? Orcas Island recreation activities need stable and consistent leadership. The Orcas Parks and Recreation District will provide the leadership needed to provide healthy leisure time activities for people of all ages on Orcas Island. The leadership will come from five elected park commissioners, all from Orcas Island. How will the new district be funded? A funding plan will be developed by the newly elected commissioners, probably some time in the first few months of 2010. The district on San Juan Island provides funding with a combination of fees for services, state and federal grants, and private contributions. Property taxes may be used for periods of up to six years, but only after there has been voter approval. No new tax is associated with this proposal. Will the new district be funded by the county? Unfortunately, no. The county leaders have said they will not fund recreation programs for Orcas Island in 2010 and they are looking forward to a transition to a park and recreation district. The county’s proposed levy lid lift is earmarked for county parks on other islands and does not help Orcas recreation programs. How will the transition to the new district occur? A transition plan will be one of the first orders of business for the newly elected commissioners. It is expected that there will be a smooth transition as all commissioner candidates have expressed a strong desire to continue recreation programs for people of all ages.

Vote yes for Orcas Parks and Recreation!

Kevin and Nancy O’Brien


“Yes” for parks and rec

We are writing in support of an Orcas Parks and Recreation District. The Rec. program has benefitted our family tremendously throughout the years with their organization of Orcas sports programs, camps and sailing for kids. We cannot imagine raising children on this island without having these wonderful benefits. There are numerous other annual and seasonal programs and events for families on Orcas that would benefit enormously if they also were organized, promoted and run by a Parks and Recreation Program.

Turning the Rec. Program into a Parks and Recreation District would prove valueable in many ways. Funding is always a challenging issue for community programs and, we believe, does not always determine the value of a program. The best, most creative and organized manager, for example, at working with kids is not always the best person at fund raising. We would not want to find this incredible worker and ask them to spend the majority of their working hours focused on fund raising rather than on programming. It is an inappropriate thing to ask a community employee to fund raise their own salary as well as the funds for the programs which serve us. Having a tax-based community funded Orcas Parks and Recreation District with a team of commissioners to oversee it would free up a gifted person to do programming rather than being chief fund raiser.

Orcas Island is filled with creative ideas to benefit our island citizens of all ages. How wonderful for all it would be if we could call a parks and rec. office to ask for help in making these amazing ideas become reality. From dance and exercise, to sports and park events, camps and programs, to the arts and sharing of the amazing resources we have in the talents of people who live here, the ideas are endless. We are quite sure that there are people who have put on many a program for our community who would love to have had a parks and rec. district handle the details so that they could focus on the program and the people they long to serve.

Please vote YES to provide an Orcas Island Parks and Recreation District to serve our community.

Gregg and Lisa Bronn

Orcas Island

Community in favor of Park and Rec District

Ms. Carter must be unaware that the group of Orcas Islanders (most of them parents) who worked to get this initiative on the ballot were able to collect more than 600 signatures in just over two weeks. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

The community members who happily signed the petition understand that when you provide fun and inclusive programs, it is not just for the benefit of their child, or even all of the children. This type of programming benefits and strengthens our community as a whole.

I understand Ms. Carter’s concern about more taxes, but the truth is that every dollar spent on well-run programming, saves far more than a dollar in government spending on law enforcement and social service programs. In addition, these programs actually provide great opportunities for families to spend time together. One of my happiest memories here on Orcas is of the Orcas Rec Circus program that my whole family participated in – even my older daughter came home from college to help with it.

The best way to save tax dollars is to have an accountable program, and the best way to ensure that a program is accountable is to have local control. That is what the Orcas Park and Recreation District would provide.

I know that, as Commissioners of the district, Marian O’Brien and the other candidates would work tirelessly to see that our funds were spent in the most prudent and effective way possible. Marian is committed to working with the community to ensure that, far from being a “worthless program,” Orcas Park and Rec will be a meaningful asset to our Island.

Keith Whitaker


Council should not delay shoreline master program update

The shorelines of these islands define our community. The council is not responsible for the lack of progress since 2005, when our Critical Areas work was due, but they are now responsible for completing the long overdue endeavor; but the council wants to wait until 2012 to protect shorelines through the Shoreline Master Program Update.

What’s going on?

Our county can protect shoreline critical areas now, and update our Shoreline Master Program. The State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) allows counties to move forward with protection for shoreline critical areas as a segment of our Shoreline Management Program update. The Department of Ecology has told San Juan County that we may do a shoreline critical area segment concurrently with the upland CAO update.

The council’s decision to dismiss shoreline protections until the 2012 Shoreline Master Program Update leaves people and property unprotected and exposed to hazards. Procrastination leaves fish, wildlife and wetlands with inadequate protections; and may cost us qualification in the national flood insurance program.

This is totally unacceptable. Whose backbone is crumbling? One wonders?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has told our county that if the we wish to qualify for National Flood Insurance Program for all of our citizens, we are required to adopt an ordinance by September 2011.

The first portion of the ordinance must address building in a flood plain (low-lying areas prone to flooding during heavy rains and others subject to sea level rise due to climate change) and must be adopted by 2011. The remainder of the ordinance must be completed by 2012.

This county needs certainty and fairness for our environment and our economy, not more delay and inaction.

If you are concerned about the abundance of clean fresh water, the health of our marine ecosystem, and in particular the welfare of salmon and the orca it is time to speak up to the County Council! Make your voices heard. We don’t have to be the victims of the council’s poor judgment.

Fredrick E. Ellis, Sr.

Shaw Island

Corrections to last week’s letter

Guess I shouldn’t have been in so much of a rush.

As a follow-up to my letter of last week I would like to present these additional facts about the Stage on the Green. The stage was designed and built by a number of islanders to provide a venue for the community. More than 90 percent of the materials came from right here on our island. There was $27,481 in donated materials that went into the construction. There were 713 hours in donated labor, at a rate set by the state, which amounted to $28,623 in terms of dollars. The stage itself has won a number of awards at the state level and the group has received a number of inquiries about the project in terms of how it was done and how it can be implemented elsewhere. To me the stage was a labor of love and a gift to the community. The big problem now that stage faces is that in light of recent budget cuts there is little money to maintain the structure and the green. It would be nice to see the community now step up to help in its preservation and not look to the government to provide for us. Enough said, and after four years of hearing the same arguments about “how much the county wasted on the Stage,” let’s now put the issue to rest and enjoy the summer concerts, the Farmers’ Market, the holiday tree lighting, the Community Band and Orcas Island.

Jim Biddick