By Ken Stern 

Local heroes of democracy


December 28, 2022

When considering activists watching over the community's governance and vocally championing the better future we all want, the dedicated and sometimes seemingly too quiet La Conner Town Council and local school board may not come first to mind. But, as with Mayor Ramon Hayes and the Town's arts, parks and planning commissions, these individuals deserve every resident's thanks for diligently showing up meeting after meeting, taking on assignments, initiating projects, crunching numbers, balancing budgets, fielding questions and agreeing to a thousand and one tasks quietly, week in and week out throughout the year.

For all their efforts, and the criticism some of them sometimes get, our local government elected and appointed leaders are the 2022 Weekly News unsung heroes.

Say their names out loud and applaud them, in private or when you next see them:

Councilmembers Ivan Carlson, MaryLee Chamberlain, Rick Dole, Annie Taylor and Mary Wohleb take their seats to preside over Town matters large and small.

Art Commissioners are Craig Barber, Nick Fennel, Gary Giovane, Sheila Johnson and Sylvia Strong

Parks Commissioners are Mike Bucy, Martin Howard, Ken Lee, Marty Pease and Oliver Iversen.

Planning Commissioners are Bruce Bradburn, Marna Hanneman, Carol Hedlin, John Leaver and Liz Theaker.

Those are town residents’ formal representatives. This year's unsung heroes recognition admirably extends to the close to 40 people making up Livable La Conner. Residents do not have to live in La Conner or participate to appreciate the time, attention and, yes, perhaps over ten thousand dollars for lawyers fees these folks have committed to having a future that represents their hopes, ideals and agreements town councils committed to 35 years ago.

This group's efforts extend far beyond advocating for a scaled down 306 Center Street condominium building that follows historic district guidelines and provides adequate parking. They have been meeting on their own and attending council, planning and hearing examiner meetings almost the entire year. They have given themselves homework, dived into the municipal code and development regulations and have determinedly spoken to elected and appointed representative, "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," their First Amendment constitutional right.

There are too many people to name here.

Similarly, the school board is elected representatives guiding the La Conner school district’s policies and budget. They often attend a study session as well as their monthly meeting. They are:

John Agen, Amanda Bourgeois, Lynette Cram, Susie Deyo and Jeremy Wilbur.

All these community volunteers, serving formally or informally, deserve our profound thanks for doing much more then showing up. They are thinking about, discussing together and preparing for the better, sustainable future they understand is necessary for generations yet to come to inherit a town and area they will come to know is special because these citizens embrace its present fully, with all its warts and limitations. Each in his or her own way is working for a future that advances the special nature of this community.

Likewise, the town and school district administrators, and the staffs of both organizations, toil locally for us, the residents living in these geographical jurisdictions. There are too many to be named, but every employee at whatever level of responsibility, is working for the betterment of our communities now and into the future.

May all these unsung heroes join their voices together to sing sweet songs for our common cause.


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