Letters to the Editor

Editorials: Keep Price Johnson, Homola on county board; No on charter schools; Yes on marijuana regulation

Keep Price Johnson, Homola on county board

With both Democratic commissioners up for re-election – and the other seat on the three-member Island County Board of Commissioners occupied by a tea party Republican who is bent on dismantling government – local voters are faced with an election decision that is sure to have a big impact on the future of Island County.

District 1 Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and District 2 Commissioner Angie Homola have spent the past four years working hard to keep the county afloat through the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

Because tea party Republican Commissioner Kelly Emerson isn’t pulling her weight on the board, the heavy lifting has been foisted on the two hardworking Democrats.

In the District 1 race, Price Johnson is being challenged by another tea party Republican, Jeff Lauderdale, who has a narrow focus on issues such as property rights. He says his top priorities include beefing up law enforcement, even if it’s at the expense of other critical county programs – some of which are required by the state.

He advocates ignoring state mandates when the cost of complying with such requirements would affect the amount of money the county can spend on law enforcement. It’s hard to understand why a candidate who says he wants to save taxpayer dollars would opt to put the county in a position that leaves it open to lawsuits and penalties.

On Whidbey and Camano islands, which with the exception of Oak Harbor depend on an underground aquifer for fresh water, everything that people do with their land can have an impact on the water supply. Yet Lauderdale would do away county investment in stormwater and drainage, instead hoping that individual property owners will voluntarily pay to address problems that affect their neighborhoods.

Price Johnson puts the values and needs of Island County first, and deserves another term on the board.

In the District 2 race, incumbent Homola and her challenger, Republican Jill Johnson, both are invested in their communities and committed to pursuing public policies that benefit the county.

Homola has been an advocate for critical social programs and conservation efforts that protect the islands’ quality of life. Johnson’s focus has largely been on advocating for more spending on law enforcement, along with policies that encourage development in North Whidbey.

Johnson’s primary argument for her election is that she wants to change the “tone” of the board of commissioners. While some people find Homola to be brusque and impatient at times, Johnson during her time at the helm of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce also has made enemies.

But running for county commissioner is not just a popularity contest. It’s about making good decisions and pursuing public policies that support the community as a whole.

Homola is a dedicated public servant and deserves to be re-elected to the board.

No on charter schools

On the statewide ballot is Initiative 1240, which would allow the creation of up to 40 charter schools over a five-year period.

State funding for these schools would come from the same pot of money that pays for public schools. Anticipated implementation costs could reach more than $3 million, yet the financial impact on public schools has been deemed “indeterminate.”

Supporters of I-1240 say the measure would finally give parents and students a choice in public education, and would be a step toward making improvements in a public school system they describe as inadequate. But critics of the measure say it would divert investment away from existing schools, hurting the quality of education for children who remain in the mainstream public education system.

Why not take the $3 million in anticipated start-up costs and invest that into our current school system? Voters should reject I-1240 and instead demand that our state’s elected leaders find ways to improve the public school system for all students, not just those lucky enough to enroll in special charter schools.

Yes on marijuana regulation

Voters also must make a decision on Initiative 502, which would authorize the licensing and regulation of marijuana production, distribution and possession for people over the age of 21.

The proposed measure would decriminalize marijuana-related offenses and establish a taxing system and earmark marijuana-related revenue.

I-502 offers stringent regulation and licensing, allowing marijuana sales to move out of the back alley, away from criminalization and into a mainstream, tax revenue-generating operation. Voters should vote to approve I-502.

– Publisher Kasia Pierzga

 

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