Orcas West County candidates announce plans
Richard Fralick, who won the Orcas West County Council seat by a vote of 925 to opponent Mindy Kayl’s 801 votes, says he is ready to leave behind the campaign process and solve the problems facing county government.
Fralick celebrated at a party, planned independently of the outcome, to thank his supporters for their efforts and the completion of the campaign.
Fralick, a Ph.D. in physics, says his experience managing teams of scientists, with personnel, financing, budgets and scheduling challenges prepares him to “deliver a product, a solution” to county problems.
“The County will be successful if in four years, or however long it takes, we’re protecting all the things that brought us here.”
He describes a tension between common rights and property rights. “Finding the balance between those two… is going to take a lot of work. If we deal with it, some of the divisiveness in the county will go away.”
To do that, there has to be appropriate environmental, land use and zoning regulations, Fralick maintains.
The final 2009 county budget will determine priorities, says Fralick. “The county has to have its financial house in order,” he emphasized. “If it’s not sound, then it’s hard to do the things you have to do.”
He acknowledges that managing budgets in an economic downturn, is “never a fun process. People get hurt, they’re asked to do more with less.”
Although he says it’s presumptious to give advice, when pressed, he recommends, “Be as realistic and honest with the circumstances as you can be; ignoring them or hoping thy go away doesn’t work.”
He and his wife, Nanae, plan a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand in December for “a very important” R & R break to “air our heads out” prior to assuming office on Jan. 12.
As Alan Lichter looks ahead at leaving county government, he plans to resume teaching, writing and consulting in mediation and conflict resolution work.
His experience in those endeavors stems from his days as a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington in the early 1970s, and a decade later, during his year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Gdansk in Poland, during the conflict between students supporting the Solidarity movement and the Communist government.
Although his work may take him to international locales, Lichter and his wife Kate plan to continue to reside on Orcas Island.
Describing his four years on the County Council as a “wild ride,” Lichter takes pride in several accomplishments: chairing the Council in the first year of Charter government; co-authoring the ordinance that settled the “guest house” issue; writing a resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq that was passed by county voters in a ballot issue and was sent to President George W. Bush; organizing the workshop on Smart Growth; loosening the finances to fix the Lagoon Bridge in Moran State Park; and working to slow and manage growth, “though we still have quite a long way to go.”
He is proud of certain unpopular stands he took: opposing the passage of the Rosario Resort Master Plan; and supporting the citizen’s referendum that opposed the 2006 stormwater funding ordinance.
Lichter suggests that the one change he would make to the County Charter is to vote for council representatives throughout the whole county, rather than by location, “because most things we do affect the whole county.”
He foresees a continuing struggle to maintain efficiency and effectiveness in government, without it growing too large. “The county Vision Statement in the Comprehensive Plan calls for San Juan County to be small, rural, and reasonably quiet. How you balance that with effective government – and expand the tourist industry – will be tough.”
Lichter says he appreciates the support of county citizens for himself and many of his programs. “I consider it a privilege to serve them.”
In a statement after her loss to Fralick, candidate Mindy Kayl said, “I have a lot of emotions now, but am focusing on future endeavors. I am … ready for new growth. I still want to serve my community and keep Orcas the wonderful place that it is.”
Kayl will continue in her position of Chair of the Eastsound Planning Review Committee (EPRC) and says that among other concerns, “EPRC is hoping to host two open houses a year to focus on community outreach.”
She will also continue a plan to work with local churches and the sheriff’s department to have a meal on Sundays and possibly supplement the Food Bank effort.
She hopes to help develop an emergency short-term loan fund for islanders this winter, and invites any who would like to be a part of these future projects to contact her.
“I’m still here and still a leader!”