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Vote Yes on Charter Amendments | Guest column

Submitted by David Turnoy.

The San Juan Democrats have endorsed all six Charter Amendments that will be on your November ballot.

Unfortunately, several of the ‘con’ statements to the Propositions present disinformation. Please read your Voters’ Pamphlet. You can also visit the official County Charter Review Commission website (www.sanjuanco.com/1764/Charter-Review-Commission)

Here’s a synopsis of each important proposition on the November ballot:

Proposition #1 – A new introduction to the Charter. Includes an acknowledgment honoring the Coast Salish people and a clear statement recognizing our core values. Proposition #2 – Term Limits for Council Members: Limits County Council service to a three-terms limit.

Proposition #3 – Climate and Environment Commission: Creates the Climate and Environment Commission allowing direct citizen engagement and increased transparency while advocating for climate actions and environmental stewardship. This entirely volunteer commission will provide support and oversight to the existing county department that was recently created by the County Council. There is no duplication and no compensation – just greater engagement, transparency and oversight of the new department, ensuring our government is responsive and the new department has the support and autonomy they need. The Commission does not have enforcement authority.

The Commission would recommend actions to the department and the County regarding compliance with laws and how to best protect our environment and address climate change. The diverse citizens Commission would also develop an action plan and an annual report to the public spotlighting areas where the county is excelling and areas that represent challenges. The Commission is necessary to give the new county department more independence and to give citizens greater input and awareness of county activities. Proposition #4 – Concerning Initiatives and Referendums: Removes the requirement that initiatives provide for specific sources of revenue. This recognizes the fact that individual citizens do not understand the entire complex county budget. The Proposition also lowers the signature requirement to place an item on the ballot; and it adds a display requirement identifying paid signature gatherers.

Proposition #5 – Concerning Non-Discrimination in the Exercise of County Powers and Performance of its Duties: San Juan County is one of only two among 7 charter counties in the state that does not have a non-discrimination section which serves to localize federal and state non-discrimination legislation to the county level. Including this section in the Charter is long overdue to ensure the county will not discriminate while requiring the same of those who contract with the county for professional services.

Proposition #6 – Concerning Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Commission: Creates a volunteer Commission appointed by the County Council to work with elected and appointed officials of the county who are responsible for upholding the values of justice, equity and inclusion. The Commission will have a forum in which they can participate with residents to discuss issues and recommend action, to truly make this a ‘Safe and Inclusive Community.’

Join your San Juan Democrats in supporting these critical Propositions. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about them. VOTE YES on Charter Propositions!