With much excitement I am looking forward to the arrival of Election Day on November 8th , and of course to the final results of the election!
It has been a wonderful few months of outreach across San Juan County. I have learned a great deal from all the people I have met! I have gone back over my calendar and communications in the past six months and here is a brief summary of the outreach I have done:
I have had conversations with more than 200 people across the county. This includes: multiple ‘meet and greets’ and small group conversations with constituents on San Juan, Orcas, Lopez
and Shaw Islands. I have also had numerous personal one-on-one discussions with constituents on all the islands; meetings with the executive directors of all three county Land Trusts and Family Resource Centers, the Lopez Island Seniors Center, and the San Juan Island Lions Club; email exchanges with constituents who have reached out to me through my website; meetings with all three sitting SJC council members, as well as the county manager, department heads and the prosecuting attorney (elect); meeting the Friday Harbor Town administrator and the mayor, and the head of the SJC Economic Development Council during the Annual EDC Luncheon. I also took the opportunity to meet with and introduce myself to both candidates for the election of Sheriff in our County.
Additionally, I have attended numerous county council meetings (special and regular) both in person and online, joined a number of virtual meetings of SJC commissions and committees, and was so grateful for the opportunity to tour 4 SJC Land Bank preserves and meet with staff of the SJC Land Bank.
My biggest takeaways from all this outreach are:
1. We live in an amazing county full of incredible people who all share a deep love for the place we collectively call home;
2. As a county ‘community’, withstanding our unique and diverse island cultures, we have more in common than we realize and can be stronger because of that if we can forge a shared vision for our county and its future and work together to realize the future we
3. It will be my honor and privilege to serve this county and all who live here, and work in collaboration and respect with those who have committed their service to the county’s government as officials and volunteers to achieve our shared goals! Finally, I want to thank the friends who reached out late in 2021 and into 2022 to encourage me to seriously consider taking on this very important role of San Juan County council member. Your encouragement, support, inspiration, and guidance has brought me to this point in my journey. To all those who provided me with very meaningful donations early on, you enabled me to set up a website that made an outreach campaign possible – thank you so much! I have learned a lot from that experience in and of itself, and from Tif and Gif of Friday Harbor who have accompanied me on that campaign design and website / social media journey – thank you!
And most of all, to my loving family who have been there by my side through this journey thus far, and who I look forward to experiencing it with going forward. Ultimately, you are my guiding light in all I do and always have been!
I should be clear and say that my ‘county wide outreach’ does not end after the Nov. 8 elections. I already have meetings scheduled this week and after Nov. 8 with both local constituents and organizations as well as county government officials (elected and appointed),
and more conversations planned with the sitting county council members.
So, I look forward to continuing my outreach up to and following Election Day! Stay tuned, and as always please reach out if you would like to connect.
With an abundance of gratitude!
News of the past week’s outreach in the County!
Last week’s outreach included another visit to San Juan Island on Wednesday during which I attended 4 meetings and the Annual Luncheon of the Economic Development Council. My first meeting of the day was with the Friday Harbor Town Administrator, Denise Kulseth. We discussed her role as Town Administrator, a job she assumed in February of this year, and the distinct yet overlapping mandates of Friday Harbor Town and San Juan County.
The Annual Luncheon hosted by the Economic Development Council was well-attended and included a representative of the County Council (Cindy Wolf), the Friday Harbor Town mayor Raymond Jackson, WA State representatives, and the Community Liaison from Rick Larsen’s Office. The theme of the event was ‘Resiliency’ and how San Juan County can move beyond the significant impacts experienced from the COVID pandemic, to recovery and renewal, as well as addressing bigger challenges including affordable housing, sustainable economic growth, lack of childcare, and viable local career opportunities for young people who live here. It was a stimulating discussion and a good opportunity to share information, resources and contacts.
Later in the afternoon I was able to meet with the Director of the Department of Community Development, David Williams, and the Director of Health and Community Services, Mark Tompkins. Those meetings were an opportunity to learn about their departmental priorities moving into 2023 and to gain an understanding of the functions of their departments.
My final meeting of the day was with Council Member Christine Minney. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to meet with her for the first time and gain some perspective on her experience of the first two years in office.
Also last week I had the opportunity to meet with the Executive Directors of the Family Resource Centers located on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Islands via Zoom. It was an informative discussion of the challenges they are faced with as they function as a critical extension and partner of County departments including Health and Community Services. The work these organizations do to support our island communities is invaluable!
So, my learning journey continues as I move into the last few weeks before the November 8th elections. My local conversations with constituents also continue from which I am gaining valuable insights. I am looking forward to more meetings with people across the County in the coming weeks.
With thanks again to all who are taking the time to meet with me and share their experience and knowledge!
Coming home to Lopez on the ‘on time’ Yakima.
This past week has been very busy with outreach to islanders and organizations across the county.
Highlights included travelling to San Juan Island on Sept. 14th to meet SJC Land Bank staff and visit three preserves on San Juan, followed by a meeting with a small gathering of San Juan Islanders.
On Sept. 15th I attended the monthly OPALCO Board meeting via Zoom to discuss energy issues in our County. A number of fellow Lopezians have reached out to me to share their issues and concerns prompting a few small gatherings, and I conducted a ‘meet and greet’ at the Lopez Farmers’ Market on Sept. 17th. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend in person the regular County Council meeting where the Comprehensive Plan updates were discussed, followed by a meeting with the San Juan Island Lions Club, and a one-on-one with the candidate for San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney, Amy Vira.
All of these meetings and interactions are educating me to the wide range of issues that constituents are focused on and concerned about: the enormous challenges with our ferry system, concerns about climate change and sustainability, lack of affordable housing, and accountability in our local government. I am grateful to be able to have these interactions as they inform my understanding of what is expected of the County Council and our local government in the future.
More outreach events are planned in the weeks ahead!
It was a great day on San Juan Island. Spent part of the day visiting Mt. Grant with Lincoln Bormann, Executive Director of the Landbank and Lopez Islander Tom Cowan.