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December 12, 2018

9/12/2018 11:24:00 AM
Charter will improve government

Democracy seeks to give voice to all parts of a diverse community, not just one, as Commissioner Wesen desires. Apparently, in responding to the charter measure, his “biggest concern is the loss of representation in the agricultural community.” While two of three commissioners are from farming families, passage of a charter doesn’t mean there will be a loss of representation of farmers. First, the charter will be developed by seven individuals elected from each of the three districts represented by our commissioners. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including agricultural, have filed as freeholders. We, the voters, will choose the freeholders to draft a charter. Second, Wesen incorrectly assumes that urbanites won’t consider agricultural interests. People in the valley value agriculture and the open space it affords.
Wesen’s singular focus ignores the larger question: what’s the best framework to ensure good government? The issue before the voters is whether to have a county charter, i.e., should we examine the structure of county government and propose changes as necessary and appropriate to current local conditions and our diverse populace?
The three commissioner model dates to 1889. Back then the county had little or no industry other than agriculture, logging and fishing and the population was small. Fish and fresh water were abundant. Regulatory oversight and protections hardly existed. Today governments face different, more complex and challenging issues requiring a wide range of knowledge and expertise while serving a larger, more diverse population and economy. Do we not we want to ensure a county government best suited to meet these challenges? By saying no before a draft charter is proposed, we close the door to the possibility that our government could be better.
This is why I’m in favor of putting the issue before the voters. Remember all of us choose the freeholders to represent our district. And after we have a chance to review the draft charter, we can accept or reject it. Let’s take this opportunity to take a fresh look at and improve our form of government.
Jo Anne Ciecko

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