09/15/2005: "Thank You Freeholders"
Last November the voters of San Juan County elected 21 fellow citizens as "Freeholders" to review our current form of government and to determine if a shift to a Home Rule was in the best interests of the County.
The Board of Freeholders presented the Charter to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, August 23. I was there and could not help but feel very proud.
As a Freeholder spouse, I have attended many of the Freeholder meetings -- yes, I went to Shaw, Lopez, San Juan and even Waldron -- and have witnessed the democratic process at work. Unlike an organization already established, the Freeholders had to start by defining their own organizational structure, process and procedural rules. It was rather remarkable given the very diverse backgrounds of the twenty-one Freeholders that they could agree even on procedure, let alone come up with a Charter that a super-majority would support.
The Freeholders spent an unbelievable amount of time doing extensive research--interviewing county employees (San Juan County as well as comparable others), reviewing law, reading other Charters, etc. They deliberated, dialogued, engaged in healthy debate and listened to their constituents. Even in the winter months when there was no inter-island ferry, they kept to their rule to meet alternatively on all the ferry-serviced islands. This required some maneuvering and many red eyes in the very early morning hours as those from San Juan traveled to Lopez in order to come to Orcas and vice versa. This was dedication. Since most of them had work during the week, they were giving up most of their precious weekend time to attend these meetings.
Having fulfilled the purpose entrusted to them by the citizens of San Juan County, the Board of Freeholders were dissolved on September 4, 2005 per the same Resolution by which they were created.
Of Course, I am hoping that the citizens of San Juan County will VOTE YES for Home Rule and the Charter the Freeholders presented. However, today I am writing to thank each one of the twenty-one Freeholders for their gift of time, energy and thought.
Nanae N Fralick