A look at San Juan County Council candidates

  • Sat Jul 18th, 2020 1:30am
  • News

This fall, San Juan County residents will be voting for two positions in the county council. For District 1, San Juan Island, and District 2, Orcas Island. But first, the field must be narrowed down to two candidates per position in the Aug. 2 primary.

Ballots were mailed to voters by July 14. If you don’t receive your ballot by July 24, contact the Elections Office by calling 360-378-3357 or emailing elections@sanjuanco.com for a replacement ballot. The General Election will take place on Nov. 3.

Orcas Island County Councilmember Rick Hughes is running against two contenders for reelection, while current San Juan Island County Councilmember Bill Watson has chosen to not run again. Both positions are four-year terms. Five candidates are vying to fill the vacancy left by Watson.

The candidates submitted the following information for use in the voter’s pamphlet. Answers have been edited for grammar and punctuation.

Council Residency District 1 – San Juan Island

Sharon Kivisto

Elected Experience: San Juan Island School District Board 1995-1999.

Other Professional Experience: resort manager, 1991-1999; journalist, 1999-present; Program Coordinator for Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation 2018-present.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Two-year degree in Photography from Palomar College in Vista, California.

Community Service: Served on the Fair Board. Volunteered in the schools. Hosted Ms. Church’s sixth-grade tide pool class trip. Volunteered at San Juan Community Theatre as an assistant stage manager, tech crew, set builder, and as a member of CATS. Provided publicity and photos for a wide range of community fundraisers.

Statement: I’ve lived on San Juan Island for 29 years, and raised two daughters on this family-friendly island. Today, the islands are in danger of losing its middle-class and becoming a retirement/tourism community with workers ferried in from the mainland.

If we want a vibrant community with a wide range of ages and income levels, a diversified economy with living-wage jobs, surrounded by a healthy environment, the county’s actions, policies and goals need to be in sync.

For instance, while tourism is a vital part of our economy, the proliferation of vacation rentals undermines neighborhoods. A discussion of potential limits on the number or location of vacation rentals is long overdue.

As a journalist, I’ve learned plenty about the county government and have met thousands of people. I’d like to use my knowledge to help San Juan County move toward a bright future.

I’d appreciate your vote. Thank you.

Daniel Miller

Elected Experience: Primary winner, for State Representative.

Other Professional Experience: Worked with Public Policy. Former owner of New England Collectibles in Friday Harbor.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. Attended the University of Washington, Seattle.

Community Service: helped with Relay for life, Community Dinners and Community Theater.

Statement: “In today’s society, especially with the coronavirus pandemic we need to work to maintain freedom and liberty.” Some of Daniel’s goals include working for good policy and a good local economy, including strategies to help small businesses here in the San Juan Islands impacted by the coronavirus!

Also, good land use policy, keeping taxes from skyrocketing, road safety, ongoing community discussions about important issues here in the islands — including 5G wireless. Work on keeping the San Juan Islands a great place to live, work and play!

Christine Minney

Elected Experience: First-time candidate.

Other Professional Experience: I have owned and operated a successful small business for the past 10 years. I currently serve the San Juan Historical Society Board on the executive committee as treasurer.

Education: North Kitsap High School; Community college courses; Community Service.

San Juan Historical Society, five years; San Juan Community Theater stage manager; Relay for life volunteer chair; Boy Scout troop 4090 volunteer; San Juan Island Farmers Market past board member; San Juan County Fair; Roche Harbor Disc Golf Club board member and event organizer; HOA board President/Treasurer 11 years; chair/volunteer for local fundraisers; Parent volunteer FHES, FHMS & FHHS.

Statement: I’ve lived on San Juan Island for over 20 years and am fully committed to our community. The choices I made while living here have allowed me to successfully raise a family, build my home and to create a strong, small business in our unique economy. My experiences have taught me how to identify and utilize opportunities. They’ve also taught me perseverance, attention to detail, organization, intention, principles of finance and diplomacy. I’ve learned to set and achieve goals. I consider multiple points of view and know when, and how to make decisions. If you elect me, I will continue working to create space for the working-class families that are the heart and soul of our vibrant existence. I will diligently support the county and partner organizations that work every day to offer programs and resources that enrich the lives of us all.

Ryan Palmateer

Elected Experience: This is my first time seeking elected office. I’ve been appointed Executive Board Secretary to the San Juan County Democratic Committee.

Other Professional Experience: 10-plus years of community organization experience with such organizations as the San Juan Islands Conservation District and the Northwest Eco Builders Guild. 10 years’ experience in the IT and telecommunications industry. Currently Vice President of Washington Association of District Employees; President, San Juan Islands Electric Vehicle Association.

Education: South Puget Sound Community College.

Community Service: Energy Roundtable, Chairman; Transition San Juan, Co-Founder; Transition Orcas, Co-Founder; Transition Lopez, Steering Committee member; Citizens Climate Lobby, Group Leader; SJI Stewardship Network; SJI Grange #966.

Statement: As your representative on the San Juan County Council, I will work tirelessly to restore our local economy, helping to create jobs that get islanders back on their feet in the wake of the global pandemic. As part of that effort, I will work toward innovative solutions to the affordable housing crisis and a fair and balanced approach to vacation rental permitting. I believe these goals can, and must, be achieved in an ecologically sustainable manner that enhances the rural character of these islands.

I commit to providing fair and just governance that faithfully serves the public. I bring with me many years of experience in amplifying the voices of our residents, increasing trust in local government through direct accountability. I believe that together we can build the foundation for a bright future. Thank you for your support!

Steve Wehrly

Elected Experience: I have never been elected to public office.

Other Professional Experience: My professional life has been in law and government relations in Olympia and Washington, D.C. From 1980 to 2008, I was a lobbyist, first for Safeco Corporation in their Legal Department, and then for clients such as Miller Brewing Company, Washington Chiropractic Association, MCI Telecommunications, the Muckleshoot Tribe and Casino, and Washington Boys & Girls Clubs.

Education: My education was at Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon; Seattle University Honors Program; the University of Washington, Chinese Language, history and politics; Columbia University Law School.

Community Service: I have volunteered for Compassion & Choices and Pacific Environment.

Statement: Every day of my term of office I will work to help San Juan County recover from the devastation of Coronavirus. For 30 years, I worked to get things done for my clients in Olympia, including planning and passing state budgets and policy ideas. One example: I proposed, planned, and assisted legislators in passing a multimillion-dollar multiyear appropriation for Boys & Girls Clubs.

San Juan County will need to substantially modify the county budget to survive the coming economic crisis, and we’ll need the help of the state government – governor, legislature and courts – to plan, manage and fund that budget.

For jobs and economic development in San Juan County, I propose designating as a state route the road from American Camp to the ferry dock to English Camp – including a separated bicycle lane. San Juan County is the only county in the State without a state route.

Council Residency District 2 – Orcas Island

Michael Durland

Elected Experience: No information submitted.

Other Professional Experience: Small business owner.

Education: Bachelor of Science, University of Idaho.

Community Service: Marine Resources Committee member, Island Oil Spill Association member and first responder, Deer Harbor Plan Review Committee, co-founder of Deer Harbor Wooden Boat Society and Deer Harbor Wooden Boat Rendezvous and co-founder of Deer Harbor Yacht Club.

Statement: I am running for Council as I see changes happening that are at odds with the reasons we all live here.

The last few months have been a wake-up call for us all. We cannot continue to expand our tourist-based economy without regard for the consequences. San Juan County needs strong leaders who will listen to the citizens and act responsibly to preserve our environment at the same time safeguard our local economy for future generations.

My goal is to aid in developing a more diverse and sustainable year-around economy by creating a more consistent and stable governmental regulatory platform that allows people to invest in and build their futures here. I will work to protect San Juan County’s economic assets — the shoreline and farmland with its fragile biodiversity and will work to ensure the fair and equal treatment of this County’s greatest assets, its residents.

Rick Hughes, incumbent

Elected Experience: San Juan County Council, District No. 2 (seven-plus years); San Juan County Board of Health (7+ years); Lodging Tax Chair (Seven years); Ferry Advisory Committee (seven-plus Years).

Professional Experience: President – Ray’s Pharmacy (Fourteen Years); President – Con’s Pit Stop (two years); ESPN.com – Sales/Ad Director (Nine Years); Media/Account Advertising Agency (Seven Years).

Education: Southern Methodist University, 1990; BBA-Marketing, Cox School of Business; BA-Advertising Meadows School of Arts; Minor in American History.

Community Service: Vice President Opportunity Council Board; Orcas Island Family Connections Board; San Juan County Drug-Take-Back creator; PTSA Roller Skating; Little League Rookie Coach; EPRC; Outward Bound Wilderness.

Statement: I asked you to support me eight years ago, San Juan County was changing government and I felt I had the skills to lead our community. SJC spent the last years building infrastructure, supporting accessible housing, diversifying the economy and preparing for a recession. The debt was paid off, operational efficiencies improved and money saved.

Never did I imagine the world would stop, friends would get sick, we couldn’t visit neighbors and the community I love would struggle and question the future.

I care deeply for San Juan County. The harder this gets, the more I will dig deep to find a path to move the community forward. While there are no perfect answers, I pledge to keep our community safe and preserve our economy.

Thank you for the honor to serve San Juan County as the Councilmember from District No. 2. Times are hard, but we will get through this together!

Cindy Wolf

Elected Experience: Precinct Committee Officer (D), Orcas West.

Other Professional Experience: Customer Service and Shipping Manager, MindPlace.com, Eastsound; Wine Director, Inn at Ship Bay, Orcas Island; Northwest District Sales Manager, Kobrand Corporation, Seattle.

Education: B.A., Occidental College.

Community Service: Children’s House, Board of Directors; Orcas Women’s Coalition, Steering Committee member, Political Action and Civic Engagement co-lead; Funhouse, stakeholders advisory group; Salmonberry School, Parent Volunteer; Eastsound Mayoral Campaign candidate sponsor; Foul Weather Shelter, volunteer; Roller Skating Nights, parent volunteer; PTSA; Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Sunday school, other volunteer activities; Community Civics educator, Orcas Island Library, San Juan Grange; USO Puget Sound Region, Fundraising Gala, wine auction coordinator.

Statement: The current council is planning for a significant revenue reduction this year. The problem is likely to extend into 2021. We should focus on: 1) Restoring our local economy – county government must do everything it can to keep restoring our local economy while protecting public health. This is critical. 2) Planning for a new reality – if we haven’t had a healthy tourist season in 2020 the county budget will shrink even more and the economic drivers in our county will need to change significantly to create jobs. We need to be thinking ahead. 3) The lack of affordable rental housing – this is an urgent issue that is damaging our local economy. Coupled with this is the impact of vacation rentals.

We will be facing some old problems and several new ones but we’ll have fewer resources to deal with them. Leadership and creativity are going to be essential.