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December 12, 2018

8/22/2018 1:51:00 PM
This Charter opportunity is for you

Now you can be a freeholder. Or at least, you can run for the elected office of freeholder and gain the thanks and gratitude of you fellow Skagitonians. Applications are open August 27-32 at the county auditor’s office.
But wait: What is going on?
The guest editorial across the page and the front page story report that Home Rule Skagit, a non-partisan, volunteer group has successfully petitioned to place a resolution on this fall’s ballot to update the county’s structure of governance. Their column presents their position for bringing Skagit County’s governance into the 21t century.
The front page article summarizes the process: there are two ballot measures: the first is a vote to create a charter. The second is vote for 21 freeholders, or delegates, who will have the responsibility to write the charter. That document will then be on a ballot, probably in 2019, to be approved or rejected.
This editorial supports readers stepping forward next week to apply to be one of seven freeholders in the county commissioner district in which they live.
These are nonpartisan positions. The term of office is through the writing of the charter. The position – and work – starts the day after the 21 winners are certified.
Applying makes you a candidate. Freeholders are “independently elected official. A freeholder renders services gratuitously for the public” as the commissioners resolution states. There will probably be more than seven candidates, so they will have to campaign to win the rest of our votes.
A freeholder is the opposite of a freeloader. Warning: tons of hard work is ahead, to work as a team of 21 volunteers toward the common purpose of modernizing the structure of county government. This will be your government at work. Your government might be you, directly.
In fact, you have work to do anyway. If you don’t want to be a freeholder, you still have your responsibility as a citizen to learn about deciding to have a charter written. You will have to learn about the candidates running for the freeholder positions. Many of the candidates will be members of Home Rule Skagit, who have worked long and hard to get to this point.
Home Rule Skagit volunteers, and all candidates, will be making presentations throughout the summer and fall to help you learn about the charter and about them, as candidates. These campaigns will succeed or fail as much by your participation as by the advocates of the charter.
It is not every day that people get to consider the framework for their government and are offered a role in developing it. Skagitonians have that opportunity now.
And thank the many volunteers who gathered the 3,333 signatures, making this opportunity possible.

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