La Conner Weekly News - Your independent hometown award-winning newspaper

By Ken Stern 

Time for voter discernment

From the Editor-

 

October 13, 2021



Ballots went out in the mail today for November’s election. Locally three La Conner council seats are contested. At least a couple of candidates are going door-to-door and half of them have signs in neighbors yards. Out of town, on both sides of the Swinomish Channel, both Eric Day and John Doyle want to represent residents living in Fire District 13.

This is a small town and a rural fire district. The decisions on whom to vote for are important for residents, more so than the candidates. The council members and the fire district commissioner get elected, but they are making decisions for the residents of their respective communities. As always, some candidates are better than others. Before it is a time to choose, it is a time to discern.

The Weekly News, as in years past, is endorsing the true source of power and decision making. It is once again endorsing the voters of these communities. The town’s residents will decide whether the issues important to them are being voiced, and whether the ideas and solutions they are hearing seem viable. The same is true for residents within Fire District 13.

All the town candidates are likely in agreement on funding aged infrastructure. Space starts to open between the candidates on law enforcement.

There are differences on the urgency of building a ring dike. Is anyone really addressing the needs of first time home buyers? The climate is changing ever more drastically. Are local climate solutions possible when fundamental social change is needed?

Some residents are reaching out to candidates and asking how the candidates will represent them. The few candidates taking the initiative to knock on doors are engaging their neighbors. Candidates need to be asked how, as council members, they will continue that interest and reach into the community.

Voting is only the start of citizen involvement. Staff from the school district offered a model last year. In a time when students stayed home, district staff worked with parents to create an initiative they titled La Conner Connect and held La Conner Connect Town Halls. That outreach was driven by pandemic concerns and recognizing that without students in classrooms, a conduit to parents was lost.

In normal times and crisis times town residents need a conduit from town hall to their homes. They need elected officials who, representing them, are reaching out to them. More than telling the community what their local government is doing, the community will benefit by insisting that the local government check in and consider residents’ concerns.

The survey asking for input into the new Maple Avenue park is a small example of residents being asked. It was a result of a handful paying attention under the duress of losing the ballfield. The survey was a start. It is up to residents – voters – to continue to ask that they be included for deeper and more complex involvement.

Are candidates or residents aware that housing focused economic development grants call for citizen involvement? That is meant to be more than a box checked off in the application.

Now is the time to ask the council candidates. The pairings are Ivan Carlson versus John Leaver, Rick Dole against Bill Stokes and Glen Johnson facing MaryLee Chamberlain.

Starting Friday a forum of the council candidates will be available to view from the comfort of your home, or on your phone, giving residents an opportunity to consider their council choices. The Zoom forum is pre-recorded through a partnership of the Weekly News and the Skagit County League of Women Voters.

The paper is placing its confidence in each and every adult in town and Fire District 13. If you will be 18 by Nov. 2 and have lived here for 30 days, it is your responsibility to have a role in leading your community into the future.

And, if you are not registered to vote, you can, up till Oct. 28 and then on election day.

 

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