Lundsten leaves county planning commission


March 24, 2021

Statement of resignation read March 9, 2021

I am resigning from the Planning Commission, effective immediately.

I choose not to serve with a group that inappropriately and actively has sought to repress free ex- pression of ideas, by me, other Commissioners, and the public.

As you know, the Planning Commission censured me for disagreeing with them in public, outside of deliberations. I am not asking the Planning Commission or the Board to remove the censure. I have protested and done my best, and I failed to convince the Commission to change its decision.

I am asking that the Board direct the Planning Commission as you look ahead.

The Planning Commission serves as a representation of the Board to the public. It is an arm of government and needs to follow government rules.

I broke no rules, but the Commission still chose to censure and then to deny my appeal, even after my rebuttal of their claims, and the clear opinion of the county prosecuting attorney, who not only supported my position, but also questioned the validity of the censure.

That re-confirmation of the censure was not only contrary to state and federal law, it was also against plain evidence and common sense. The Commission exercised their majority because they could. Without justification, they became self-appointed gatekeepers for the Board.

As Prosecuting Attorney Weyrich stated, the censure had “no legal effect.” But the effect of the censure was real, and that effect was damaging, to me, to the Planning Commission itself, to the Board and Skagit County, and to the public. It did not promote transparent deliberations and trust, for anyone.

Is that what we want the Planning Commission to do?

Silence is consent. If the Board agrees with the Planning Commission’s direction, everything can go on as it has been.

I believe you agree with the Prosecuting Attorney, the Growth Management Act, and our State Constitution: the Planning Commission’s job is to enable and promote diverse ideas, not to act as a gate-keeper that prohibits dissent. In that belief, I request that you direct the Planning Commission to do their job as prescribed by our laws.

The law is clear: dissent is not against the rules and the prohibition of dissent is against the rules.

The Board has the authority to direct the Planning Commission to follow those rules. Your invitation for this joint meeting is a welcome step toward that kind of communication and oversight, and I heartily applaud you for that.

I also thank you for paying attention to this minority statement about the censure and its negative effects. I know that the law allows me to submit it.

Finally, I thank you for the opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission.

Mark Lundsten


Delivered at a joint meeting of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners and the Skagit County Planning Commission


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