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Shelter Bay board election winners pledge open communications

The people have spoken and three newly elected Shelter Bay Homeowners Association board members vow to continue listening.

Judy Kontos, Dan McCaughan and Nancy Shimeall were announced as winners at the association’s annual meeting May 21, following the tally of electronic and mail-in ballots.

All three committed to fostering sustained dialogue and assuring transparency in decision making, a continuation of the examples they set in their campaigns. Then they met frequently at small neighborhood gatherings.

“I’m a good listener,” McCaughan, a two-decade community member, told the Weekly News. “I’ll be listening a lot.”

Leading up to balloting, residents repeatedly voiced concerns over the status of master lease negotiations with Swinomish Indian Tribal Community officials, aging infrastructure, increased homeowner fees, reduced access to amenities and fallout from hefty fines imposed by the tribe’s planning department for non-sanctioned tree removal by board member Steve Swigert in the popular Rainbow Park on the Swinomish Channel.

“The community will be looking to see how we perform,” acknowledged McCaughan, who brings to the board an extensive business background and prior service on community panels.

“I’m excited and engaged to do this,” he said. “It’s the perfect opportunity. It’s time for me to re-energize, to help heal some of the conflict and rebuild a sense of community.”

“I’m looking forward to getting on the board,” said Shimeall, a retired teacher trained in consensus building. “Hopefully people will stay engaged and communicate. We want to make sure the process is open and transparent.”

Kontos, like McCaughan has vast business experience. She has done a deep dive into key issues.

“I’m excited and happy the way the election turned out,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting going.”

Kontos wants to build upon the rapport she developed with residents this spring.

“So many people have come forward and offered to help,” she said. “People are eager to engage after COVID-19.”

Described by Shelter Bay resident Steve Klein as being “scary smart” when it comes to finance, Kontos plans pursuing what she calls “high value, low-budget” items that can deliver relatively immediate benefits for community residents. Those include the “refreshing” of amenities, such as trails maintenance, launching a community garden and dog park and securing an operational permit for swimming pool use.

“Let’s deliver a few things that people can use this summer,” Kontos said.

McCaughan is optimistic a team concept can be employed to tackle key challenges.

“I’m only one person of a board of nine,” he said. “The community will be watching to see how we work with one another.”

McCaughan said Shelter Bay, along with the Town of La Conner and Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, is an integral part of the local area. The three entities share mutual interests, most notably those related to infrastructure.

The board, he said, will also be working with a new community manager, Rick Tanner, who succeeded David Franklin earlier this year.

“He (Tanner) brings a great amount of experience to the job,” said McCaughan.

McCaughan, like Kontos and Shimeall, is eager to assume board duties.

“Everything is good,” he insisted. “I’m going forward confidently.”

The new board members will be seated July 1. They will serve three year terms.

Incumbent Louise Kari, who addressed issues based on her experience during a virtual community forum in April, was announced as board alternate Saturday, having finished fourth.

That could prove significant as an open board slot is due to be filled by appointment, Shimeall said.

Board President Jack Galbraith did not respond to questions to comment by press time.


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