Charter Review Commission continues to examine county goverment | Guest column

The following was submitted by review commission member Madrona Murphy, District 6 (Lopez/Shaw).

The next meeting of the San Juan County Charter Review Commission is on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the San Juan Grange from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Public input is welcomed and there is time set aside to hear public comments at 8:30 a.m. and at noon.  At this meeting the CRC will hear presentations from former San Juan County Sheriff Bill Cumming and former San Juan County director of administrative services Dave Zeretzke.  Mike Doherty, Clallam County Commissioner and former Clallam County freeholder will speak to the Commission via speaker-phone.

The CRC is charged with reviewing the Charter to determine its adequacy and suitability to the needs of the County. Changes that they propose will be put on the ballot for the public to vote on in November.

At their last meeting the CRC heard presentations from San Juan County Council members Rich Peterson (San Juan North) and Howie Rosenfeld (Friday Harbor) and from former San Juan County Treasurer Kathy Turnbull. During the public comment periods they also heard from former Freeholders Greg Hertel and David Bayley.

Peterson spoke in favor of a six-member county council and against the return of partisan elections. He also expressed his support for changes to the separation of power between the county council and administrator.

Rosenfeld spoke in favor of maintaining a the current separation of power and expressed openness to considering a five-member council.

Turnbull spoke against the consolidation of departments and in favor of an elected treasurer.  Both former Freeholders spoke in favor of the existing charter and advised against major changes. They also spoke against full-time council positions.

The working model of the CRC includes a three-member full-time council, county-wide elections and maintains the powers of initiative, referendum and mini-initiative.  At upcoming meetings they will address the potential consolidation of departments, whether any currently elected positions should be made appointed, partisan vs. non-partisan elections, the role of the county administrator and the separation of power between the administrator and the council.

The schedule of meetings through March can be found at the CRC website at www.sanjuanco.com/committees/charterreview. The March 3 meeting will be at the Orcas Hotel from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  You can also find documents relevant to the charter review process on the CRC website.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend CRC meetings and to contact any member of the commission to voice their opinions (contact information is also available at the website).