Saddened by divisiveness in our community

by Leith Templin

Orcas Island

My family has been involved in supporting San Juan County since the 1850s on San Juan Island and 1897 on Orcas. My great-grandparents instilled in their future generations the importance of community and what it means to be a good community member. I am quite proud that my sons are continuing that public service and dedication to our community.

The division that has been taking place in our community is very disturbing to me. I have never witnessed such mean-spiritedness, vulgarity, homophobia and profanity being used in personal emails and social media towards the fire commissioners, staff, and community members. This is not the community that I have known and loved my entire life.

I believe that it is our responsibility to question our elected boards if we have concerns for the community, but we must be respectful. These people are volunteering hundreds of hours to our community only to be threatened verbally in public and through emails and social media. This is not only disrespectful but unacceptable. I feel being a good community member means working together to figure out what is best for the institution or community, not someone’s personal agenda.

The commissioners have protocols for dealing with accusations, they are also trying to protect the institution they serve and the employees, as well as some community members. Some of these baseless statements will only harm the community members and employees but the institution as well. This Commission is the most professional I have worked with. They are here to protect the institution of the fire department and the community that they swore to serve. They are honoring their oath of office.

The scare tactics being used to alarm the community members causing worry are criminal. We have three paramedics, (plus our chief is a paramedic) a volunteer EMT that’s a surgeon and the best per diem paramedics available and several new volunteers. We are in good hands. Probably the best ever.

What is the real agenda here? Who will benefit from removing the chief? Who wants his job?

I thought about quoting those awful letters from a known community member but that is not who I am, and this community is too important to me. We have now lost a very good and professional health care director because of the actions of this other person. I have also lost many personal friends from this community this year who were truly community-minded and leaders within this community. This is not the time, or I believe ever, to write such ugly words about our fellow community members. It is time to support our friends and neighbors and institutions. I hope you will think about what I have said and if you need to, everything I have mentioned, and more is available through a public record request.

I am hoping that the community spirit I have grown up with and am proud to be a part of will return in 2022.