Last week Tom Eversole wrote a thought provoking open letter to the candidates which asked important questions about aging in place on the islands. Here is a link to my response in Orcas Issues:
Tuesday August 4th – Thank you to each and every one of you for your support. Tonight after 8pm we will begin to see the ballot return numbers for the Primary. If all goes well, then it is on to the General Election November 3rd!
There is still time to get your ballots in and to make sure your friends and family vote. Here are the Ballot Box locations:
San Juan Island:
55 Second Street STE A
Friday Harbor, WA
San Juan County Court House
350 Court Street
Friday Harbor, WA
Orcas Island Senior Center
62 Henry Rd
Lopez Island Fire District Office
2228 Fisherman Bay Road
Turned your ballot in and want to make sure it got counted? You can check your ballot status and get in touch with the San Juan County Elections Office to “cure” your ballot this week if there is a problem. Check your ballot status here by filling in the information and clicking “submit”. When your voter information pops up, look for a tab on the left that says “Ballot Status” and click it.
Primaries are won by campaigns people care about. This means us!
My statement for Matthew Gilbert’s Friday July 24th article for Orcas Issues: “The fate or future of Eastsound? District 2 council candidates respond”
Eastsound is a laid-back seaside village. Isn’t that what makes it so pleasant to be here and what brings the visitors? It feels as if much of the recent development and proposed development we’re seeing threatens our rural character and relaxed pace. I don’t think we have to look like Kirkland, WA, in order to have an economy that works for us all.
Wouldn’t our lives be better if town planning was consistent with the green, bicycle-friendly, walking village we have the potential to become? Why not improve things so that pedestrians, bicycles, and wheelchairs have better, safer access? During the summer, could we turn the core of the village into a no-car zone, making space for sidewalk cafes and stalls for local producers to sell their goods? Instead of spending $4,500,000 on one street, could we instead use some of those funds to smooth out the sidewalks we already have?
Orcas already has plenty of tourist accommodations at a good variety of price points, but we struggle to provide year-round housing for our teachers and EMTs. I see misplaced priorities. It is long past time to start thinking about our village as a great place to live as well as a great place to visit.
My statement for Matthew Gilbert’s article in Orcas Issues Monday July 6th
“Being a favored tourist destination gives us bargaining leverage when dealing with the State and Federal governments about open space, wildlife, ferries and fisheries issues. Also, many of the businesses we locals enjoy probably would not be here without the extra income tourism provides. That said, tourism must exist in harmony with our rural way of life. We cannot offer our guests a good experience if there are too many of them here at the same time. We also cannot provide for them in case of a major emergency or disaster.
The results of the survey on tourism say business owners, residents and visitors all agreed that at the height of a normal summer we are at capacity. Through smart planning decisions about lodging and transportation, we can manage visitor numbers and reduce the environmental impact of tourism on the islands, while still allowing guests to enjoy time here. Planning should also make the islands friendlier to both guests and locals with disabilities.
Our islands haven’t always been so tourist-dependent. We should nurture parts of our existing economy like small trades, health care, and home repair/renovation, that do not count on tourists or building new vacation homes. We must encourage young people to settle here to do this work and bring entrepreneurial ideas and energy. That means addressing affordable housing and taking good care of our schools. That brings us to vacation rentals.
The problem, as I see it, is vacation rental owners who view the islands as an investment opportunity rather than as a year-round community. It makes sense to me to let people who live in the County offer vacation rentals at their address of residence. This county is also a traditional summer-house spot for a number of families, so they should be allowed to rent out one vacation/second home for a limited number of weeks per year. The proliferation of vacation rentals shrinks year-round rental stock, drives up real estate prices and prices the middle class out of our housing market. Permits should be issued to the owner, not the property, and expire when a house changes hands. Anti-nuisance ordinances should be enforced and provide for penalties that include revocation of permit for repeated violations.
According to the tourism survey, long-time residents think we should accept less environmental damage in the name of economic development than do recent arrivals. Perhaps they have lived through a few boom and bust cycles and know it is worth finding a way to get through the tough times while preserving the best things about this place. Quality of life has drawn people here for 10,000 years, it’s what tourists come for and it’s our most important legacy.”
Please see the instructions below and RSVP to join me Tuesday July 7th at 5pm!
The League of Women Voters of the San Juans will hold candidate forums on the video conference platform Zoom at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 7, and Wednesday, July 8. To attend the forums, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to register. The League will provide a link to the Zoom meeting shortly before the scheduled date.
The forum on July 7 will feature the candidates running for the San Juan County Council based on Orcas (District 2): Cindy Wolf, Michael Durland and incumbent Rick Hughes.
The forum on July 8 will feature the five candidates running for the San Juan County Council seat based on San Juan (District 1): Christine Minney, Daniel Miller, Ryan T. Palmateer, Sharon Kivisto, and Steve Wehrly.
To learn more about those running, visit www.sanjuanco.com/1252/Voters-Guide.
Primary Election Day in Washington state is Aug. 4. Ballots will be mailed on July 17.
This is a link to my favorite version of “America the Beautiful” performed by Mr. Ray Charles. He sings with the anguish, love and faith of a man who has known his fellow Americans at our ugliest, suffered hate, and still believes one day we might find Grace. He sings about heroes who love mercy more than life, which breaks my heart in the midst of this pandemic. He makes the old words come alive with what is beautiful about our land and people and prays for what could be. I spent last night with my family watching “Hamilton” and this morning at a community farm on Orcas talking about food and land and homes. American Dreams of justice often come right down to a garden, a kitchen, and the peace to enjoy them. It seems like not much to ask, but 150 years ago my ancestors left Germany and Ireland to find those things here, and the people who have lived here for generations out of time got those things taken from them. Black people still don’t get the peace and freedom to pursue happiness. They get shot by police while asleep in their own beds or watching TV in their own apartments. Liberty is not a thing every American enjoys equally, nor should it be taken for granted. As your public servant on the County Council, I will not sacrifice fair treatment for convenience or count on handshake deals to protect your freedoms. Happy 4th of July!
Tonight we may not know the Presidential results, but with 78% of the San Juan County ballots returned as of last night, we should have a pretty clear picture of the County Council results. Starting at 7:30pm, I will be watching returns with the San Juan County Democrats at this link:
Please join in for the evening or just for those breathtaking moments right after 8pm and, hopefully, a toast to Victory! We have travelled an exciting road this year and I wish we could all be watching the big screen together some place cozy, but as 2020 demands, we will make do, get creative and enjoy the heck out of the evening!
Please join me Wednesday October 7th 5:30-7pm for the big one!
The League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum featuring all four County Council candidates. You will need to register for a link by emailing email@example.com . If you cannot watch the forum live, look for a link to the recording here on the blog by the end of the week.
To submit questions, please email Steve Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I am deeply grateful to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her lifetime of service to the idea of equity and her will to persevere. The work of the world is no longer hers to do, it is ours to do, and she showed us what it is possible to accomplish against long odds. Tonight we mourn. Tomorrow we work harder.
– Govern by thinking like a mom
People have been part of the world’s ecosystems for a few million years. Our impact on the planet is huge, undeniable and inevitable for as long as human beings survive. To a great extent, we choose which plants and animals are allowed to live in any given place on the planet, making our Earth something akin to a giant garden. Like gardeners, we are the creatures in the picture best able to learn from the past and make quick shifts to the system when circumstances change. Like gardeners, we don’t get to pick all of the challenges that come our way. This Earth Day a new virus has set governments worldwide a tremendous challenge to restructure their priorities and responsibilities. Here in the USA, in a matter of weeks the social safety net has become the primary source of cash most people use to purchase the necessities of life. Next year there will be less money available for Federal, State and local governments to spend. Does that mean there is less capacity for food production? Are there less materials from which to build shelter? Are there less brains to think with or people to get things done? There are plenty of resources. There are means of production. It is our system of distribution that has taken the hit and if we make no changes our economic recovery will be slow and chaotic. If we are to survive and make sure our children thrive, we need to rethink how we distribute the things people want and need. Elected officials should think like moms think about their families. Better yet, think like grandmothers.
- Take care of people, plants and animals around me. If they are thriving and I am checking in with them regularly, I am doing my job. If they are suffering, I need to find out why and do whatever I can to fix it. For example, we need to start reforesting with trees resilient to our changing climate. We need to keep working with our local non-profits to address homelessness and addiction issues. We must make sure our Seniors and Veterans have a dignified way to access food, care and housing. We need to make sure Foster Care in the county is properly funded and supervised.
- If I don’t have what I need to keep the county healthy, my job is to figure out how to get it. Some ways of going about this are to form alliances with people governing other jurisdictions for cooperative efforts, explore how other places are solving the same problems we face and keep in touch with people who are really good at finding pools of grant money. Also, moms don’t often sweat over calling in the experts. Finding the right people to bring a project to fruition or provide reliable information saves everyone time and grief.
- Our house, our rules. Good moms don’t make random rules, but the ones they make are mostly for reasons of health, safety and keeping the peace. Regardless of how they behave at home, when visitors come, they are expected to follow house rules. We have a lot of visitors. On Tuesday Dr. James, the Public Health Officer, said he thinks wearing a mask in public is important, but since everyone who lives here has been pretty good about this, it shouldn’t be mandatory. I can tell Dr. James is not a mother with lots of neighborhood kids around. I think for a while it has to be a law, not a choice about social etiquette. Also, everyone hates a rule they have to follow while their neighbor “gets away with it”, so rules like building codes and septic requirements need to be interpreted and upheld in uniform fashion.
- Plan for the future, look to the long term, but be flexible. Better ideas, opportunities and tools may present themselves. It is like helping your kids prepare for life. Learning to trade immediate comfort for long term benefit is helpful in most scenarios. We are going to face some tough economic times with hard choices to make about what to do with a much smaller county budget. In the short term cutting projects and positions will be the quickest way to balance the budget, but long term budgeting needs to be considered differently. We have to address Climate Change with every dollar spent and we need to keep an eye on infrastructure so we don’t spend money to support obsolete technology when with a bit more effort we can prepare for something better.
The future can be a good one here on Mother Earth.