By Ken Stern 

Town needs new leadership

 

April 26, 2023



Ramon Hayes, mayor of the Town of La Conner for 16 years, is retiring when his term ends after the November elections. Hayes deserves a huge thank you for his steadfastness. He deserves credit for the solid staff employed in support of the town's residents and infrastructure.

Hayes can be rightfully proud of the two – three, really – most visible accomplishments under his watch. He secured critical state and local funding for the downtown channel boardwalk and the La Conner Swinomish Library. And, in the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic, he lit the Rainbow Bridge.

Now, ahead of candidates filing week May 15, hopefully several town residents are considering making the election run to replace Hayes. Residents will benefit from a competitive race.

The Weekly News encourages people to consider and to decide to run or to convince friends or family who are the strong, qualified people, to file and run. Several reading this editorial are anywhere from solid to ideal candidates.

Candidates will need supportive family and friends to talk through and reach the decision to run. Strong allies are needed, first to last, from the rigors of campaigning through coming home after frustrating meetings, inevitable problems and the joy and relaed exhaustions of walking in a parade.

The mayor is the voice of the town and leads its government. There are some dozen employees, the departments of finance and public works, the overall administration and an annual budget of over $5 million to pass annually. There are town commissions and various county bodies. There are all the nuts and bolts of being the elected face of a community of over 900 residents.

There are the responsibilities of next year and the next 10 years. Hayes has been right to emphasize the major sewer and water infrastructure projects looming. A new commission is facing managing natural disaster emergencies.

We all want the new mayor to be a great one. That person's qualifications starts with ready handling of responsibilities. The leader that will help the community most will have the necessary finance and personnel management competencies.

That is the start. Since leading the town means herding an orchestra of cats, not employees and not volunteers but fellow citizens, candidates for mayor are needed who are collaborative, cooperative and empathetic. They must be attentive listeners.

More, in these times of existential threat to our climate and dependence on a tourist based economy delivered by gasoline powered vehicles, a mayor with 2050 vision will challenge the community to look beyond the next four years, beyond the 2030 census and to a future that has a sustainability that ensures not only our survival but our prosperity by getting us to a future very different from our past and this present moment..

The candidates filing for mayor in May do not have to be ideal people, but the town will be better off if the two or three who decide to run champion a future of shared effort, enormous possibilities and definite challenges that they insist we will overcome by being called to work together.

 

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