09/02/2010: "LETTERS ON COUNCIL RACE"
Dear Ms. Severson,
I have learned over the years that pre-judging an issue or candidate is generally a bad idea. I attended the forum with an open mind and hoping to be surprised in a good way because either you or Rich Peterson is going to be one of six votes on the Council for the next 4 years. As you well know, a single vote can be the tipping point for the direction our community heads on many important local issues.
My reference to politics was two fold; the first being my impression that your answers to questions tended to morph off into campaign “talking points” like so many of today’s media politicians. I have always appreciated straight answers to direct questions.
The second, that you did not address in your letter, is your campaign references to your “progressive Democrat” roots and involvement in Democrat Party politics -by definition, that makes you a politican. A great deal of effort has gone into trying to keep our local Council elections non-partisan as the Charter requires. I would have more confidence in your campaign if you had supported the non-partisan nature of the office you seek.
Your reference to our need for share-ride, public-private partnerships to support buses and cab companies, and vouchers for taxi and ferry fees ignores a variety of existing private and community programs to meet the transportation requirements for those in need. These programs include share-ride; mercy flight pilots who take patients to the mainland for treatments not available on the islands; preferential ferry access for those with medical needs; the thousands of trips driven by friends and neighbors to get folks to doctors and shopping; the ferry tickets for those going to cancer treatment, and the hundreds of family members and friends who shop for, and look out for, so many of our elderly citizens.
We have seen in the past that once the government steps in, the neighbors helping neighbors efforts wither away, and with it important part of island culture.
Are our homes safe?
Your reference to homes that in your view are not safe, was related to some shoreline homes. The County shoreline rules for the last 30-plus years have kept homes back a minimum of 50 feet and sometimes 100 feet from the top of the bank on the shoreline, and even greater distances when required by building codes due to site conditiona.
There are homes closer that were built many years ago. I am unaware of any shoreline homes that have blown away or been damaged due to their location. A small number have had issues with long-term bank erosion. Could a major event cause a problem? I guess so, but so would being struck by a meteor. The biggest local danger is falling trees in high winds or forest fire. Neither event is specific to a shoreline location.
Most people who choose to live on a private road or have a private driveway, a private well or a private septic system enjoy their independence. They have chosen to not place their faith in government-delivered services in a city. If they worry about fire engine access, their well, or their septic system, the obvious choice is to take the initiative and fix their own “problem.” As for failing systems, there is no choice by law: they are required to be fixed, and for those strapped for money, low interest loans are available. Being self reliant and independent is part of rural living; a mindset I hope we never lose in the islands.
Helping local builders?
I appreciate your offer to help the local building contractors. The biggest thing that the Council can do is reduce the cost in time, rigmarole and dollars in the County permit process. Like you, I would hope that local builders and suppliers will be directly involved in the proposed hospital construction on San Juan and the construction and/or remodel of the public school on Orcas. As you may or may not know, the issues of contractor bonding, prevailing wage, materials specifications, general/ sub-contractors are complicated, and like all things complicated: expensive.
I also appreciate your offer to discuss a home show to highlight our local construction companies. With contractors, builders, trades and suppliers on our four ferry served islands it will be a complex event to pull off, not to mention getting the public from the three “other” islands to attend. The builders have discussed doing something in conjunction with the County Fair, which may be a viable option, similar to what the agricultural community has done.
In closing ....
I thank you for attending the Builders Forum and not choosing to “stay home reading best available science or working on my winter garden...” Whatever the voters decide, I wish you well.
My responses should not be taken as anything other than my own viewpoint. The individual members of the San Juan Builders Association have a wide variety of thoughtful views on local issues.
Dear Mr. Evans,
Thanks for your letter ["Peterson Is Not A Politician" 5th letter below -Ed] "to the Island Guardian. It is interesting that you can draw so many conclusions from one forum. I do wish that you had paid a little more attention to some of the things that I said and to the content of my handouts.
First, I am not a professional politician. My experience comes from having taught US Government and History to high school students and doing public advocacy for education and social justice causes. I plan to use the skills which I have learned to work for San Juan County and its people. I do know how to listen to and care about the opinions of each person, not just those who happen to agree with me. Everything that I do now or will do in the future is going to be completely open and transparent. If I felt that the current council representative was doing this, I would not have entered the race.
I accepted the invitation to meet with the builders out of respect for Mike Carlson and because I wanted to let people hear what I really think, not what people like you say that I think or plan to do. I could have stayed home reading Best Available Science or working on my winter garden because I am fairly sure that your comments about me would have been the same. I answered questions to the best of my ability and distributed my responses to the Common Sense Alliance questionnaire to everybody. My number is in the phone book, and people can call me if they have questions.
I continue to be concerned about services to the people of our county, and I believe that we can do a better job of addressing issues. I don’t believe that throwing money at a problem makes it go away; careful planning and exploration of options is what we need. Transportation continues to be a need for all of our islands, particularly Orcas where you live. I don’t think that we can develop a transit system and never recommended one. We can work together to help make more options available to those who cannot drive or afford a car. This is the topic of another whole essay, but basically we need ride share, public-private partnerships for the cab and bus companies , vouchers for taxi and ferry fees for people of limited income, those with handicapping conditions and the elderly.
Since your forum was for home builders, I did not address my concerns about health issues. However, this is what I think: Mental and other health concerns are still things which are in the County budget, and it is the old “pay me now or pay me later” situation. For example, the state’s proposed closing of the Mental Health Evaluation and Treatment Center at Sedro-Woolly will impact our Sheriff’s Department much more as they are required to use valuable deputy time, equipment and money to transport patients to a more distant facility. A person with untreated hypertension or heart disease costs the county a lot more if they have to be dealt with on an emergency basis and flown off-island to St. Joseph’s or Island Hospital.
My observation about unsafe houses was actually about houses in unsafe locations. Windstorms and seismic events have a dangerous effect on homes built close to the water. Even if she did endorse Rich, I do not want Emily Reed to wash away.
Going door to door in the district has shown me how few services many residents pay for but do not receive from the County. Most live on roads which they paid for and maintain, drink water from their own well and deposit human waste in a septic system which they installed and care for. They worry that a fire truck will not make it to their house on that road, water will not be available to fight a fire, and their neighbor’s unmaintained septic system will contaminate their well. I think that we need to address all people’s issues in the County.
One thing that you did not mention in your letter was my offer to help the builders and people in the building trades in our County. I think that your organization needs to start doing some things which will help its members and others in building industry here in the San Juans. Many people who come here to build want a way to access local contractors and craftsmen, and you could use your website and services to inform them. Your members would appreciate regular newsletters about issues, and probably wonder why the last one was published in April of 2009. If you are interested, I will even offer to write or collect articles about relevant topics for you to include. (No, they won’t be Hillary Clinton’s ideas on kitchen redecorating.)
We need to work together to make certain that local people get the jobs here. Whether I am elected or not, I will help you put on a home show or other program to give exposure to local people and to write and publish a brochure to introduce potential newcomers to the people and construction resources here. I have already talked with Victoria Compton at the EDC and Julie Corey at the San Juan Island Chamber about this, and they support the idea. I advocate that we use local builders for construction of the new hospital and plan to work to that end no matter how the election turns out. Perhaps Rich can make that pledge as well.
I have talked with many business owners in the county and am concerned about their success enough to change my own spending habits. I make it a point to do business locally now and have shredded my Costco card. Most of the materials in my home came from Browne’s Lumber and were installed by people who live here. I am willing to work with you and to listen to your concerns. I hope that you can do so as well.
Laura Jo Severson
San Juan Island
The San Juan County Association of REALTORS Board of Directors, by a majority vote, is endorsing Rich Peterson for County Council, San Juan District 2.
We respect his knowledge of the issues and awareness of the concerns of the citizens regarding the importance of the Critical Area Ordinance update.
We appreciate his vote to move forward on the REALTOR request for a binding site plan permit process.
We believe that the site plan permit process, if approved, will provide property owners and buyers a level of assurance that they can rely upon to plan a building site on their property. If implemented as discussed, the site plan permit would be binding for a 4 year period and assure stability and predictability for homeowners, buyers and builders alike.
This would help to stabilize property values and the tax base, allow real estate sales, stimulate the construction industry, generate related services and retail jobs and encourage a trickle down effect for our economy and community.
San Juan County Association of REALTORS
Board of Directors
Dear Mr. Rawson,
It seems you don't have much of a sense of humor.[See Rawson letter: 3rd one down -Ed] It also seems that you
don't understand the use of a "simile." In my column I used a simile to compare the "public input" your Marine Resource Committee (MRC) gathered, to something similar, but completely different. I apologize if the comparison was unclear.
Many people at the time were concerned about your plan to lock the Islands in to a 90-year preservation agreement with a state agency with a political agenda. Your MRC group was just fine with this. In fact it was stated that your plan was approved by such notorious groups as the Nature Conservancy, Friends of the San Juans, and other environmental groups that believe humans are like a plague on this planet (example of "simile" here).
Your group trumpeted this approval by these extremist groups as "public input." I used a simile to illustrate this point when I said, "that is like Michael Jackson inviting a cadre of pedophile priests to a slumber party at the Neverland Ranch." It was my attempt at humor, pathetic as it may be.
I realize that this kind of simile can be misunderstood and may offend some people. I apologize. I was also offended when the MRC attempted to limit our freedoms and sell off our local control by promoting this Aquatic Reserve. I didn't mean to personally disparage you or anyone in your group. I just think you may lack a sense of humor about this whole thing because years later, it is still stuck in your craw.
I was proud to be part of the loyal opposition that stopped your ill-conceived plan cold in its tracks. It seems that the battle between environmental extremists and those of us who cherish freedom is just ramping up. I will fire off as many similes as it takes to defend my liberty. I hope they are funny.
District #2 SJI North
I would like to express my gratitude to Rich Peterson for running for re-election as our County Council Representative despite the controversy surrounding his latest vote on the Brickworks Project.
If anyone should be held accountable for the failed passing of the Brickworks Project it should be, in my opinion, Loval Pratt. It's hard avoiding conflicts of interest in a small community but, when you are elected to represent the public's interest, your personal interests should be known well ahead of a deciding vote.
Ms. Pratt's interests in the Brickworks Project gave an appearance of impropriety which should trouble us far more than a nay vote from any one of the other Council Members.
Let us not negate Mr. Peterson's other thoughtfully considered votes throughout the many years he has served in office for this one unpopular vote. A decision, I feel was the right one under the circumstances.
Please vote yes for Rich Peterson.
Leslie L. Brennan
San Juan Island
Dear Editor and Residents of San Juan Island,
I am voting for Rich Peterson. If you reside in District 2 I ask that you vote for Rich as well. If you don't live in District 2, please encourage your friends that do, to Vote for Rich. Rich is a rare combination, he is intelligent, really studies the issues, has a lot of common sense and most importantly takes his responsibility to the tax payers of San Juan County very seriously.
We are so fortunate to have someone with so much integrity and vital experience looking out for our interests. I am confident Rich will continue to serve us well; with fairness and a practical approach to our county issues. ……Please VOTE for Rich Peterson!!!
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
I came away from the San Juan Builders Association Candidates Forum at the Mullis Center for the two District #2 candidates with several impressions. There is a clear choice for District #2 voters in this Council-seat election.
One impression is that Rich Peterson is not a politician ... which a compliment.
He comes across as a man who has both feet planted firmly on the ground and a clear understanding of where to draw a line between the proper role of government versus what needs to be left to individual responsibility. He clearly respects the non-partisan intent of the County’s charter form of government.
My impression of Laura Jo Severson, in contrast to Rich Peterson, is that she is a classic politician, straight from central casting. She is good at getting her talking points across, and like the classic politician, she is skilled at morphing answers to questions in a direction she believes will be beneficial to her campaign -but not necessarily answering the question.
As a politician she knows County voters generally lean toward Democrats in elections. She is campaigning as a “progressive Democrat,” highlighting her active participation in the Democrat Party politics.
At first this seemed to be an honest mistake by a new candidate who didn’t understand the County Charter requires Council races be non-partisan. Laura Jo’s continued insertion of partisan party politics into her campaign, complete with off-the-cuff comments, shows an obvious election strategy, and not a novice’s mistake. One wonders what other aspects of the Charter Laura Jo Severson would ignore.
Councilman Rich Peterson’s answers to forum questions clearly showed he cares about the future for island residents, has a healthy respect for a citizen’s right to succeed and sometimes fail, without over-reaching government intervention. I do not sense that he sees County government routinely involved in citizens private decisions.
Peterson seems to be generally supportive of our local businesses, working families and personal liberty, all part of the foundation of the American success story.
Rich’s answers to questions would indicate that he wants to see our local government do a good job of providing the basic government services the law requires, before pioneering off into other areas.
Laura Jo leaves the impression she sees a very significant and involved role for County government and County employees in overseeing the daily activities of private citizens. With good intentions I am sure, she seems to believe that there isn’t much that local government should not be involved in.
She said in her travels around the District she has seen homes that, in her mind, are not safe ... the implication being that the County officials should be going out doing inspections of existing homes and evaluating home safety? She has seen homes that are too close together ... in her mind, these homes don’t exhibit the rural image and should not be allowed? She is a proponent of a County Public Transportation system which can not survive without taxpayer subsidies. She is in favor of increased County involvement in mental health, with no suggestions of how to pay for her expanded program.
I don’t agree with every position Councilman Peterson has put forward, but I appreciate the fact he is not doctrinaire. If a citizen does a solid job of putting forward a well reasoned solution to a problem, I think Rich will give it serious consideration. It is my impression that he is an Independent politically, not wedded to any local advocate group’s philosophy, he truly listens.
Laura Jo repeatedly claimed she wants input from everyone and will listen to everyone. Experience shows that sometimes when a politician has been drumming their commitment to openness, it quickly fades after the election. As a candidate who is promoting a “progressive Democrat” philosophy in the face of what County voters intended to be a non-partisan Charter government, I am left with the impression that with her partisan approach, she may not be an equal opportunity listener. In her eyes, some San Juan County voters may be more equal than others.
Councilman Peterson’s answers to question indicate that he gets the importance of the public process in decision making. I did not get that same reference to the importance of an inclusive public process from Laura Jo Severson.
From her answers at the Forum, she appears less concerned with how decisions are reached, (or protections for the rights of individuals,) as long as what was achieved in the end was what she has in mind in the first place.
I hope the voters of District #2 re-elect Rich Peterson. He has proven that he is a thoughtful and competent elected official. Richard's balanced common sense approach to local issues is welcome and necessary if our local government is to serve the broad interests of our citizens.
To the Editor:
The strong adverse response to Jim Slocomb’s letter [5th letter below]of support for Laura Jo Severson in the District 2 county council race is amusing, or, in the phrasing of several of your recent correspondents, “a hoot.” I think that Jim was merely trying to state his preference in a light-hearted way. I am certainly not personally offended by Jim’s letter, nor do I think his tone was discriminatory against the idea of males holding public office. By the way, for those who do not know and cannot tell from my androgynous first name, I am a man.
A couple of years ago, when I was chair of the Marine Resources Committee, my committee members were likened to pedophiles in these very e-pages. When I complained to your columnist Mr. Petersen, G., (no close relation, as far as I know, to Mr. Peterson, R., District 2 county council candidate) about this language, I was told that he meant that as a joke and that I should lighten up. [Cited column -Ed] Fine, but if that is to be the standard, I suggest that people take Jim’s much less offensive letter in the spirit that was intended and lighten up.
District 2 property owner and interested observer of this election
(Mr. Rawson maintains a 2nd home on SJ Island -Ed)
To the Editor:
Mr. Slocomb, re: “A plea for change”. Were you intending to patronize us; the female homework aficionados? Say it isn’t so…
In spite of his gender handicap, I will be voting for Rich Peterson for County Council.
His reasoned, conscientious, decision making ability, suggests to me, that against the odds, he manages to also do his homework.
District #2 SJI North
To the Editor:
I found Mr. Slocomb’s suggestion that District 2 voters should vote for a woman so that our new County Council comprises three women insulting to both men and women.
If Mr. Slocomb can think of no better justification for his candidate, perhaps he needs to re-think his support. (Following his “logic,” we should all vote for Sarah Palin/Christine O’Donnell in 2012 in order to fill the nation’s highest office with women for the first time--should that happen, I’d seek to resign from the female gender.)
We need principled, intelligent, experienced people in government, even if they happen to be male. Vote for Rich Peterson!
To the Editor:
My old buddy Jim Slocomb’s letter ["A Pleas For Change" 2nd letter below this one] yesterday was a hoot. I’ll have a hoot responding, and then let’s all go grab a beer sometime.
Jim’s appeal leads to a logically absurd conclusion. He seems to suggest we vote for Laura Jo so we can have three women on the Council, which in his mind is worth having. Sounds good of course, a few years ago we had two. But, does this mean that Jim would also ask me to vote -if I were in a position to do so- for Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman and Christine O'Donnell?
Knowing Jim, I would guess not, so this is not really about gender, is it? I would guess there is something else on Jim’s mind, a desire for a new Council majority to align with some particular agenda he has in mind. That’s fine, but I would rather hear more about that agenda, than to be played with the gender card instead.
I regard myself a nonpartisan, common-sense progressive. And, I think there are a lot of islanders who can relate to that. By a large majority, islanders created nonpartisan Council positions, by supporting the Charter form of government, for very clear reasons, regardless of their political persuasions. I don’t think on the whole we are much swayed by gender, race, religion or creed one way or the other. We want intelligent, fair-minded problem solvers with good social skills. A wry sense of humor also helps.
In a recent New York Times piece David Brooks and Gail Collins cautioned voting too early and by impulse. This is far too easy with mail-in ballots arriving in your mail box today for an election weeks away. I so miss the neighborhood ritual of standing in line in a school gym or church for my turn in the booth, inconvenient as it was. It really made me think, right down to the wire.
How would you feel, one of the columnists point out, if you find out a few weeks from now that the cool sounding candidate for change you just voted for turned out to be a hamster abuser or an Albanian drug over-lord? And if you had waited you could have made a better voting decision?
I like Laura Jo and enjoyed the brief conversations I have had with her at the County Fair in August. However, with the passage of time, I find I am becoming a bit uncomfortable with the increasingly partisan and aggressive tone of her campaign.
Rich Peterson is running as a nonpartisan candidate and his track-record reflects that. Rich cannot be bought or sold. You may not like his decisions from time to time -I don’t always- but he has gained my personal trust and confidence through his integrity, good humor, courtesy and thoroughness he brings to the issues.
He works hard at arriving at carefully considered decisions that on balance serve the larger public interest at stake, rather than narrow special or partisan interests. He has the arrows in his back to prove it. We are all learning about his opponent as quickly as we can -because so very little is known. I look forward to learning more, in the weeks to come.
Please resist the temptation to make this council election about partisan special agendas. Let’s stop hurling bricks. We like living here; we are as passionate about our property and our place as we are about our environment. We are islanders and we can do better. Let’s make this about the issues in the islands and solving problems. Let’s make this about the wisdom, experience, knowledge and ethics we need to do all this. And let’s have respect for the intelligence of islanders who may be waiting a few weeks before deciding how to cast their vote.
District #2 SJI North
To the Editor:
I am currently on a PeaceCorps assignment in the city of Assomada on the Cape Verde Islands so for the next two years I will be casting my absentee vote from here. This afternoon I mailed my ballot to San Juan County and if it arrives by Nov.23 my vote will be counted and although I am a very great distance away from my home, I want to share my reasons for a difficult choice I made on the County Council race.
Jamie Stevens is a person who has consistently shown me an almost uncanny ability to listen and really understand where other people’s opinions are coming from, in short empathy.
I can’t recount examples here but I can certify that in the exchange of competing ideas and opinions with others he never discounted their ideas or opinions. Instead, he led others in forming a genuine and creative resolution. In today’s world, that is a valuable brand of leadership.
His education and career centered in engineering and that in fact meant that throughout his
career he worked within complex systems. One of the trademarks of engineers is they want to know how things work or why they don’t. Both cases are within all systems esp. Government.
He was trained to be mindful of the details. Changes were not made randomly and they were not made single-handed. Changes were monitored and evaluated for the intended results.
Beyond all of that he has a great sense of humor and that can make a big difference. I know for a fact that humor is not part of the engineering curriculum but it is important in all of our lives.
So I voted, be sure that you do too. Reporting from Cape Verde, “Ti logo” (see you later).
To the Editor:
The last few years have shown us that the county council is rivaled only by the US Senate in their inability or unwillingness to govern effectively for all their constituents. This November we have an opportunity to change that a bit. Patty Miller is running unopposed for Gene Knapp's seat. I have worked with Patty and found her to be very very accomplished. I don't know of anybody who is better at doing their homework. Lovel Pratt also does her homework and is not up for election this cycle. If the district two voters will be kind enough to replace Rich Peterson with Laura Jo Severson we will be in the position of having 50 % of the county council being accomplished motivated women. Then maybe we could get something done.
This has to be good for all of us.
Please elect Laura Jo Severson for County Council District 2.
District #2 SJI North
To the Editor:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy..."
-Alexander Fraser Tyler-The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic-1776
"I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple. The accounts of the United States ought to be, and may be made as simple as those of a common farmer, and capable of being understood by common farmers. The people through all the States are for republican forms, republican principles, simplicity, economy, religious and civil freedom."
While Tyler and Jefferson spoke of nations, the same principles apply to government right down to the local level.
Rich Peterson takes time to understand issues and to do what is best for our community instead of what a vociferous few may want. He tries to follow law and the intent of law rather than find or design ways around it.
He talks with people impacted by actions of the County Council and understands that a problem must be identified and defined before we try to solve something that may not exist at all.
He knows that we don’t need a CAO designed to kill gnats with howitzers if there happen to be some gnats around. If we elect a few more clear thinkers like Rich Peterson, the transfer station issue could be settled instead of hanging around our necks like a stinky old dead albatross.
A vote for Rich Peterson, and others like him, is a vote for San Juan County instead of continuing to swim around in the mire into which we have fallen.
Dennis R. Hazelton
District #2 SJI
To the Editor:
Much ado has been made about just when Laura Jo moved here. She has a fresh face and some new ideas. One of the problems with owning a history on the Island is that it leaves a trail afterwards.
Local politics became important to me after an announcement about a crucial meeting for San Juan County to apply for inclusion in DNR’s Aquatic Reserve program. San Juan is the only county in the Northwest Straits area that is not yet included. If accepted into the program, San Juan islanders would then craft a plan for our waters, protecting sensitive areas from development through bottomland leases. The Marine Resource Committee was to speak at 11 am in favor of applying, and other public comment was to be taken at the same time.
My letter about the program did not get submitted in time so I happened to arrive at Council Chambers early, at 10 am, to see if there would be an opportunity to be heard. The room was completely filled, mostly with waterfront property owners wanting dock permits to become easier to procure. Some folks had flown in from Montana and California and had shown up an hour early as well. They were given a private and unannounced 40-minute audience with the Council. When my turn came the Council simply asked that my comments be given to the clerk and they were never heard.
This same group stayed in the meeting room and kept it filled so that the scheduled speakers had to be put in another room, most were too intimidated to speak. Rich Peterson called a surprise vote and the reserve was dismissed out of hand and he added that the topic ‘never be able to be proposed again.’
Solid Waste meetings have taken up much of my time during the last two years, as well. Rich Peterson wrote to our local newspaper about his, “well reasoned” decision to, ‘Just leave the dump where it is,’ despite recommendations to the contrary from the Solid Waste Advisory Committee and Public Works. My question now: So how’s that working for you? His proposal for solving the Solid Waste deficit was to assess a $1,000 fee to each new property owner that moves to the island.
The last meeting that I attended was concerned with lowland areas like the Beaverton Valley Marsh when Rich put himself on record at the meeting by stating that “ Wetlands come and go and they shouldn’t really need to be regulated.”
Maybe a fresh look from the outside at the way our local politics work or do not work would be a good thing.
Go Laura Jo,
District 2 voter
To the Editor:
I am very disappointed that Laura Jo Severson apparently believes that an outright lie is the way to win political office in San Juan County. I am not surprised to see this at the national level, but I had hoped that a local candidate, particularly one whose campaign claims to be one of "Integrity," would not stoop to blatant dishonesty to try to win an election.
Two days ago, we as District 2 voters received a postcard mailing from Ms. Severson stating, among other things, that Mr. Peterson's vote on the Brickworks project "was crucial in not only defeating this project..." Of course, that is blatantly false. The vote did not defeat the project; it is moving forward, just doing so without the raid on the taxpayers that Ms. Severson apparently thought that these businesses should have received.
This information about the project moving forward was public by September 13, long before the postcard mailing was sent out. Ms. Severson apparently either does not keep abreast of the information affecting the issues she purports to be interested in, or she didn't care that she was sending out false and dishonest information to those she wants to represent. Either way, it shows a lack of the honesty and character which the voters of District 2 have enjoyed in their representative up to now. I, for one, do not wish to be represented by a candidate with such a disregard for truth, and I hope other District 2 voters do not, either.
To the Editor:
In reading letters to the Editor, Rich Peterson’s qualifications and experience for Council are completely clear. Letters supporting his opponent made no reference to her experience or qualifications, or even that she has lived in our very special community and county long enough to know us. Letters supporting her were only negative about Rich, and I disagree with the criticism.
Rich thinks long and hard and studies the issues fully before voting as he does. He’s had vast experience (as is evidenced on his web site, richforcouncil.com), and many years living on the island and serving our community in a completely non-partisan way.
We are very fortunate to have such a qualified man willing to serve in this responsible and challenging position. He has an open mind, is a good listener, and thinks with logic and financial astuteness.
I cannot support a candidate whose campaign is based on attacking the incumbent and dividing us with mean-spirited attacks rather than explaining her own qualifications for the position.. She should gain some local experience before she calls one of Peterson’s votes “appalling.”
We need Rich Peterson to serve another term as Councilman. We need his experience and background as a leader, an organizer, a problem solver, a good manager of individual and county budgets. Rich Peterson is most qualified to address the pressing issues in our fragile community with clear thought, and an open mind.
Come to meet him with questions and comments Oct. 9th and 10th from 10: - noon at 285 Spring Street, next to the Little Store.
Please vote for Rich Peterson’s re-election. He deserves it, he is the most qualified candidate, and we need his continuing strength and leadership.
To the Editor:
Rich Peterson's response to Laura Jo Severson's open letter on campaign signs was condescending, in my opinion, and I expect better from him. Her letter suggests a more constructive kind of campaign, one based more on meeting, talking with, and most importantly listening to all of us voters in the second district, instead of just relying mostly on advertising. Rich doubts that Laura Jo understands the reason for his letter, but it seems more likely that he fails to grasp the reason for hers. He's just being the typical politician, merely keeping his name in front of the voters.
Laura Jo, on the other hand, is trying to meet every one of the nearly 2,300 voters in the district. Sure, that way they get to know who she is, but more importantly she gets to know them---all of them---and to hear what they have to say. If both candidates did that, wouldn't that make a better campaign? Wouldn't that make a better county council?
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
I have been asked to run for office on multiple occasions and I have considered running for office. However, I realize that if you actually get elected and you really do the job you were elected to do, half the people will probably not like you depending upon your most recent vote and that always bothers me.
You see, elected officials basically have to do two things: protect the tax district’s assets that they were elected in and follow the law. In protecting assets (which include the citizens you represent), you cannot spend more money than you have (all municipalities are a cash basis) or commit to spend more in the future that you will not have. There nothing partisan about these issues. It comes down to doing your homework and making the most responsible decision even if it is not popular.
I have felt extremely lucky to have Rich Peterson represent my District. He has made some unpopular decisions, but all of his decisions were well thought out and backed with a lot of information and common good sense. Quite often his reasons would really surprise those that feel he may have voted wrong. Sometimes, as an elected official, you have to say “No” because of the unknown costs to making a decision.
If there is not enough information provided to the County Council and they are not given enough time to accumulate the necessary information, they have to say “No” until they are able the get the information they need.
Rich Peterson makes those difficult decisions in an extremely thoughtful manner. We need his past four years of experience to get through the next four years. Municipal Budgets are going to get more and more difficult to work with and extremely difficult decisions are going to have to be made. If you doubt Rich’s ability to make well thought out decisions, please talk to him. I think you will change your mind.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
Well before the election season started, I had reflected on how fortunate the citizens of our county are to have someone of the caliber and experience of Rich Peterson on County Council. I have watched Rich work on county matters first hand, and have admired Rich’s tireless energy, time commitment and tenacity at working through difficult county problems.
Rich doesn’t go for the popular quick fix. Rich studies the issues very thoroughly , listens carefully to a diversity of viewpoints and makes decisions in the best interest of our community that will stand up to the long term test. Rich demonstrates incredible patience in listening to often widely varying view points, giving each citizen’s viewpoint a fair and careful hearing.
Rich’s leadership on the cell phone task force is a true gift to our community. When the task force’s work on improved cell phone service, lead by Rich, comes to fruition, it may well lead to lives being saved. There is much more work to be done on this. We need Rich’s continued leadership to make this happen.
I strongly endorse Rich Peterson’s reelection to County Council.
To the Editor:
We find a recent letter to the editor from Mr. Dehlendorf rather troubling. In charging Mr. Peterson with the accusation that he “ignored the wishes of island voters” is not correct.
Concerning the Land Bank issue he paid attention to the people who were worried about the permissive wording the easement that could have resulted in a loss of more than $400,000.00 that Land Bank was going to pay for it. He represented concerns from many residents that the easement document was too loosely phrased to guarantee protection for the tax payers, and he had a responsibility to make a sound decision for us. Rich Peterson understands financial feasibility. He is on the side of careful spending which is so important, especially now in this difficult economy.
Concerning the charge that Peterson does not represent San Juan County because 60% of the residents voted for Patty Murray is not only ludicrous, it is an odd view of democracy.
We know Rich Peterson. Many individuals choose their physicians based on a knowledge of his or her training, experience and reputation. They then stay with the person because of their trust even though they may not know each detail or bit of information that went into a decision making process. In the same way a person who represents us should not only be judged on experience and qualifications, but on a gut feeling of trust that is more personal. Again, we know Rich Peterson -he is a man of integrity and we trust his judgment and we recommend voting for him on November 2.
John H. Aberle, MD
To the Editor:
My father, Rich Peterson, is the incumbent County Council member representing the second district. There have been a lot of ugly things said about my dad during this campaign. I’m so surprised and hurt by the casual way people throw out these comments, like the person who called him a “right wing hack” and accused him of having an ulterior motive for the recent Brickworks vote. Or the man who accused him of hiding his political persuasion when he was unable to find out how my dad voted in the last presidential election…isn’t voting supposed to be confidential? And this is a non-partisan office.
I wish all of these people questioning my father’s integrity knew that he spent hours speaking with business owners on Nichols Street to research his vote, and carefully considered every factor before making his decision. When he makes a decision it is always after careful research and thoughtful consideration of every possible consequence.
His “personal political agenda” is to govern fairly and to make legislative decisions that positively impact our community.
His “special interest group” is made up of the citizenry he represents in the second district.
When I was a kid growing up in Santa Barbara, my brother and I listened to many lectures from my dad about doing the right thing and acting with honor and integrity. All of my life, he has been a role model and pillar of honorable behavior and fair and equal treatment of others. This has shaped every decision I’ve made as an adult and a parent. I’m so proud of my parents and the lives they lead and the good things they do for other people.
Almost immediately after being elected to the County Council, my dad was faced with a really tough decision on the roadside memorials erected after tragic accidents in the county. I’ll never forget how much concern and worry this caused him. I’ve seen people approach him locally to talk about issues and concerns, and he always takes a few minutes to chat with these individuals in a pleasant and welcoming manner.
The best person to represent the second district on the San Juan County Council is the person who already holds the job. We are lucky to have him.
To the Editor:
t is not often that our county leadership is endowed with someone who combines a passionate desire to preserve and enhance the beauty, community, and life-giving natural resources of our county; a resume of organizational leadership and practical work experience that virtually matches the checklist of CEOs of U.S. companies and non-profits; a brilliant intellect who earned Fulbright Scholarships; a well-deserved reputation for wisdom, reflection, fairness and decisiveness; and, for the 27 years that I have known him, a middle name of "integrity." Yet fortunately he is the County Council member who skillfully represents Lopez, Shaw, Blakely, Decatur, and Center Islands.
Fiscally conservative, Bob has chosen to reduce the influence of money in his campaign by voluntarily limiting the size of donations and cap the total amount of money raised at $5,000. Contributions from non-District 6 County voters has been discouraged and is minimal. The visual pollution of ubiquitous signage was rigorously contained by a self-imposed decision to restrict posting of signs until 45 days prior to the election. Bob is "Mr. Clean" in campaigning. The list of accomplishments under Bob's leadership on the County Council is significant and includes: Reduced county budgets and staffing in a difficult economy; expanded walkways along roads in Lopez Village; initiated successful legislation to encourage use of electric cars; continued efforts to save the Lopez transfer station and to keep Neil's mall, the stopping of mandatory curbside garbage pickup; acquired funding and started the process to keep Odlin South as a county park reserve area, supported senior services, health services, and parks. More can be seen at: www.bobmyhr.org .
To the Editor:
I have spent a lot of time on committees, including the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, the Planning Committee, and now the Stormwater Committee. I think it is important for citizens to participate in local government. But I have to tell you, it is discouraging when you spend personal toil as well as hundreds of thousands of county dollars on consultants, develop a well reasoned program, then see it shot down by a group of loud persistent citizens promoting selfish interests.
The solid waste issue comes quickly to mind. Not only have we dismissed solutions for the last what, ten years? But we continue to send 20 to 40% of our garbage, by truck/train to Oregon, that isn’t even garbage! You should see the nice wooden rocking chair and the bench that I “pulled off the pile” at the transfer station. And then there is the Growth Management Plan that never happened, costing us a fortune in grants; and our county spending well over $100K, for CAO studies that Ecology has already done. And then the Brickworks: the county gave approval for the Land Banks’ program, and then put themselves back into the picture to kill it, over the support of almost everyone, including our State Senator. None of this should have happened. Our County Council does not seem interested in supporting programs for the common good if it must be over the protests of special interests.
However… There is a candidate for the upcoming election for Area 2 that has stated in her literature that she will do just that. Laura Jo Severson has pledged to hold the line against over-zealous conservatives, support community-building projects like the Brickworks, and show respect for our committees and advisory groups.
Please join me in voting for Laura Jo.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
There’s a lot riding on the upcoming County Council race for District 2. (San Juan North)
Our local economy is in serious trouble. County businesses have been badly hurt by declines in tourist spending and significant declines in real estate sales and home construction which has reduced family incomes and County revenues. It may take a long time to recover. I want a County Council representative who’se mindful of these realities, one who works to be a good steward of our tax dollars by spending them wisely. Rich Peterson is such a leader.
What does Rich believe in? He’s long advocated improved cell phone coverage, an issue which has gained renewed urgency with the unfortunate death of a Canadian visitor on Orcas after 911 attempts were routed to Victoria, critically delaying EMT response.
Rich has insisted on good local-based science to insure that wetland buffers and shoreline setbacks for residential construction truly solve environmental problems, not merely by mimicking down sound standards. Rich is a guy who considers the actual consequences of legislative decisions in a thoughtful way.
Our Council has the authority to decide whether existing waterfront homes or owners with wetlands will become “non-conforming uses” in the event of larger setback requirements. “Non-conforming” puts restrictions on what future changes can occur and would certainly reduce the value and use of impacted properties.
Rich sees this problem clearly and wants to balance our shared concerns for the environment with the property rights of those that will be impacted by any new regulations.
Rich is well versed in the challenging issues we face and I welcome his reasoned, practical approach to solving them.
Please join with me in re-electing Rich Peterson!
To the Editor:
I like Bob Myhr. I have voted for him twice, first as a County Commissioner, then when he ran for the County Council. I’ve had many dealings with him, first during the four years I served as chair of the county’s Ferry Advisory Committee and for several years since as I’ve continued to try to help stem the steady slide in our ferry service despite fares that have nearly doubled during Bob’s tenure.
Even though ferry service is critical to our economy and quality of life, Bob and the rest of the Council have remained passive observers while elected officials in other ferry-served communities have stood up and gotten results. It is similar to his and the Council’s failure to address the long-simmering solid-waste issues and the county’s overall funding challenges, to mention just two.
One of the rare times the Council has stepped up and taken action was to feather its own nest by deciding to collect pension benefits as if they are full-time county employees, even though it is clear that the new county charter, in doubling the number of representatives, saw the positions as part-time. Bob has defended that by saying it won’t cost the county anything, but even if that is true (which is doubtful), is it really the point?
Those of us in Council District 6 are fortunate to have a very good alternative to Bob in Jamie Stephens. Jamie’s record ot community service, of listening and then getting things done and of having the values we look for in good neighbors make him an excellent choice for the council. I encourage others frustrated by the lack of leadership in the county to join in voting for Jamie. It is time for a change.
To the Editor:
Bob Myhr is in favor of modifying the County Charter. One of the most important revisions he is proposing is for every Council member to be voted on by all San Juan Islanders as was done under the previous County Commissioner form of government. We can then feel that the entire Council really represents us all. Our County is too small for the Council members to be only concerned with just their own district.
Bob also knows that the change to County Charter form of government has vastly increased our costs in spite of what the originators proclaimed would happen. However, even with the Charter, Bob has been successful in bringing support to complete key projects and programs in District 6 and the County as a whole, e.g. support for 4-H, parks, and seniors; saving Lopez Hill, Mitchell Hill, and Turtleback; keeping the dump open.
Bob Myhr together with several other Council members can generate the enthusiasm for revamping the Charter. Voters will have the opportunity to discuss, recommend and vote on modifications to the Charter.
Only with Council members who have lived through and worked with the present problematic charter can productive modifications be made. Help make sure changes can happen. Vote Bob in for the second term. We need someone whose eyes are focused not only on Lopez, Shaw, and the other islands in our district but also on the County as a whole. We need Bob. He has the extended education, private and public business experience, and proven record of accomplishments to represent us in District 6.
To the Editor:
Rich Peterson was a volunteer teaching a sculpture class for the Westcott Bay Institute when I first met him seven years ago. I saw him then as a gifted artist and terrific teacher. In the past four years, I’ve seen him demonstrate even greater skill and competence as he served my district on the County Council.
This should come as no surprise. Through talent and effective leadership, Rich rose through the ranks to become Chief of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department where he managed 200 employees and an annual budget of $12 million. Rich’s long exposure to the inner workings of Santa Barbara county government found humorous expression in his kinetic sculpture “Government Machine”--an artistic hit at this year’s county fair.
Rich is on the side of struggling islanders. He appreciates the hard economic times that islanders are facing and the tough choices that such times require. He believes it should be the same with government. Rich listens with care, does thorough homework and then takes principled and sometimes lonely stands to serve all islanders by carefully managing the cost and commitments of county government.
Well-liked and deeply involved in our community, Rich is the smart, capable and proven leader that we need--now more than ever. Let’s re-elect Rich Peterson.
To the Editor:
Back in 2005 when my fellow freeholders and I crafted the home rule charter for this county we deliberately made the council positions non-partisan on the basis that strong ideological views were inappropriate in local politics. We simply wanted elected officials to make sound, unemotional, and reasoned decisions to make this parcel of the U.S. a better place in which to live and bring up our families.
We have not consistently been rewarded with council members that fit that image. In one particular case however we have an individual who has demonstrated good judgment and, most of all, a courageous willingness to thoroughly work to understand the issues - and then make decisions in the interest of the county regardless of the political risk. Rich Peterson is that man!
There may have been an occasion where you and I did not totally agree with Rich’s position on an issue, but let me assure you that he reached the decision with careful and reasoned thought.
We Americans consistently say that we are fed up with Washington, the political hacks, the backbiting, etc.. When someone stands up on a tricky issue however and calls the shot in total honesty with well reasoned analysis of what he or she feels is good for the people, we write him or her off if they didn’t toe the line to match our belief. Not very smart and horribly hypocritical.
I have observed Rich thread his way through the thicket of issues in which we get embroiled and how he has agonized over the process of balancing the often contradictory input he gets from constituents. Then he has to call the shot as he sees it after taking all of this input and his own analysis into account. He does it with careful integrity, and deep concern for us all.
We have a precious asset in Rich Peterson. Let’s retain it and demonstrate appreciation for a sound honest individual who diligently serves us well. Please re-elect Rich this November 2nd.
San Juan Island