Council candidates talk housing, environment and more –

Their reasons for running are as diverse as their personal backgrounds. The four Council candidates vying for two San Juan County Council seats entered the race for four different reasons.

Community Rights San Juan Islands, Friends of the San Juans and the Madrona Institute posed six questions to applicants to elicit more information about candidates for public office.

“In March 2020, as COVID was taking its toll, I found myself in dire need of leadership and direction because I own a small restaurant and the rules were changing rapidly.

For me to be informed and aware of what was becoming daily changes, in reality I had to start watching emerging county council and health board meetings to stay informed and make reasonable decisions for my business and the safety of my clients,” said Christine Minney. .

“I realized how accessible local government could and should be. When I understood that the seat of the county council for position 1 was to be elected without a holder, I was forced to make the choice to present myself.

Minney is running for San Juan County Council District #1 – San Juan against Ryan Palmateer.

“I was inspired to run for county council after seeing what poorly regulated RVs were doing to the quality of life on the islands and to our environment. I announced my candidacy at a vacation rental task force meeting,” Palmateer said. “Having worked on the three main islands for the past four years, I have learned a lot about the concerns of each community.”

Running for District #2 – Orcas are Cindy Wolf and incumbent Rick Hughes.

“I’m running because my 12-year-old daughter needs a society that works and the county needs a change of direction if we’re going to be part of the solution,” Wolf said. “We’re out of time.”

Hughes has served the community in his Council candidate seat for the past eight years. He said this would be his last application for the position.

“My family has always put an ethic of service above myself and I have felt that call to serve my community. I served on volunteer boards most of my life and felt it was time for me to serve San Juan County,” Hughes said.

“I felt the county didn’t always treat the community fairly and – knowing that one has to be the change they want to see – I volunteered to work with the community to help make the county a better partner. in the daily lives of its residents. . In the years that I have been involved, the county has made great strides in this area.

Minney noted that she was confident in the decisions of previous Council nominees regarding the pandemic thus far, but felt compelled to run because there was no incumbent for the position. She hopes that over the next three years, if elected, she hopes to be accessible and interactive.

“I want to hear community goals to make appropriate decisions based on these conversations and I want to advocate in a strong and socially relevant way to strengthen a number of our [community’s] Needs.”

Palmateer’s priorities include economic recovery, affordable housing and agricultural support.

“The pandemic has taught us that reliance on tourist money puts our local economy at high risk of major disruptions,” Palmateer said. “I will work with Economic Development Council candidates, the Agriculture Guild and those who work with our seniors to explore the best ways to create more year-round jobs. »

The need for affordable housing is critical, according to Palmateer. He said he would work with government and non-government partners to create more affordable housing and find a solution to the proliferation of vacation rentals.

“We need better and fairer regulations designed to protect existing neighborhoods, make [vacation rentals] less attractive to non-local investors and speculators, and encourage more long-term affordable housing,” Palmateer said. “I will work with community groups to achieve this.”

Wolf expressed disappointment with the lack of forward movement when it comes to reducing the county’s carbon footprint. She observed that in 2008 the county passed a resolution on climate change, but the goals were never made enforceable.

“In fact, the provisions that likely would have made the most difference to the county’s carbon footprint were left out of the new resolution,” Wolf said. “There was a request for a county government operational and geographic greenhouse gas emissions inventory to be tracked with reduction targets. It never happened.

Wolf noted that a goal of 36 miles per gallon for every vehicle in the county’s fleet was never implemented and LEED certification standards were never set for buildings in the county.

“The latest resolution only keeps the county up to energy efficiency standards by [its] own building code,” Wolf said. “That’s not the way to make meaningful change.”

Wolf’s view of county government is not dire, however, she noted that he has done a good job for senior centers and the roads are well maintained and repaired.

While on county council, Hughes said he was proud of many of the council’s achievements during his tenure, but most recently the voter-approved property excise tax.

“We’ve awarded nearly $3 million to actively build accessible housing — with more to come,” Hughes said. “In addition to affordable housing, I would like to see the county achieve the goal of deploying one megawatt of renewable energy generation; expand our network of off-road bike paths and continue to diversify our local economy.

Originally posted on The sounder of the islands

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