A Community Website by Lopez Island
Started by Anne Whirledge-Karp (Blooms and Brushes, Fine Art)
Oct 26, 2021
Support for Charter Review Commissioner's Amendments
Oct 26, 2021
I am writing these comments as someone who attended several of the Charter Review Commission meetings and followed the process. I encourage you to vote yes on all of the Amendments.

I would like to thank the elected SJC Charter Review Commissioners for the hundreds of unpaid hours that they have given San Juan County in service towards the task to amend needed areas of the San Juan County Charter. I have a great appreciation of their thoughtful listening and incorporations of public ideas from interactions during Town Halls. I would also like to thank the dozens of county citizens that diligently attended committee meetings on a weekly basis during this process to understand and offer comments in helping find solutions for revisions that will meet the needs of our times.

These amendments will bring our county government into alignment with issues affecting island communities, especially concerning the challenges of a changing climate. New wording in the preamble provides an acknowledgement that the lands on which we live are the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Tribal Communities. It is a sign of respect for the indigenous people who lived for millennium in balance with a healthy Salish Sea ecosystem. This type of acknowledgement is currently being adopted and spoken by all manner of organizations throughout the Salish Sea region as well as throughout the state as an extension towards healing of the injustices done to indigenous communities.

More than ever before, the people that now dwell within the Salish Sea ecosystem need to be vocal concerning their interdependent relationship and the health of their natural environment, the vibrancy of their communities, and the sustainability of their economy. The new wording in the introduction to the SJC Charter is an expression of this voice.

Municipal, county, state and national governments along with NGOs are all working to find solutions for the looming crisis concerning climate. The more coordinated these efforts, the more efficient and impactful will be the resulting actions. I applaud the Charter Review Commissioners for their in-depth work for this amendment in creating a Climate and Environment Commission. It will serve as a liaison between existing departments and advisory committees with its specific expertise. The Advisory Commission, consisting of 9 Commissioners are all NON paid positions and is chaired by a member of the Advisory Commissioner. It does NOT add expenses or salary costs to the county budget.

The amendment being made concerning Initiatives and Referendums with reducing the numbers of required supporting signatures to 8% will benefit the initiative process. The burden within the initiative process for identifying and securing a funding source for implementing an initiative has resulted in the rejection of valid and needed initiatives. If an initiative is accepted by the voting public, then it should be the task for County Council to work with the county finance and budget to secure this funding as it is outside the scope of private individuals to ascertain.

I applaud the amendment concerning Justice, Equity, and Inclusion. Any and all efforts to reduce the perpetuated environmental, social and racial injustices that have been allowed to exist within our nation have my endorsement. Strengthening the ideals of nondiscrimination should be the goal of all forms of government and non-government organizations alike.

I encourage San Juan County voters to accept all the proposed amendments from the Charter Review Commissioners. They serve as an example for other communities within the Salish Sea Region that have municipal and county Charters.

Anne Whirledge-Karp