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January 16, 2019

10/24/2018 12:56:00 PM
Your one vote and their large donations
From the editor

Today’s page one story on large donations filling the No on Charter Committee campaign coffers is a tidbit worthy of your consideration. Whether or not you’re paying attention to the Proposition 1 ballot measure, whose passage opens the door to developing a county charter, consider whose thumbs are on the scale, that is whose checks are giving weight to the campaigns.
Why are 14 people contributing $48,375? The total is $50,875.00 when the Skagit County’s GOP $2,500 donation is included – and some of that might come from those 14 donors. Contributions will continue to be made, too.
On the yes side, about 100 folks donating $16,481 defines a grassroots effort. That makes the average donation $165.
Recall how we got here: people formed Home Rule Skagit last year and planned a petition drive as part of a holistic campaign to promote modernizing Skagit County governance. Volunteers spent most of the spring and summer at farmers markets, stores and events like July 4th parades to gather 3,333 signatures, placing a measure on this fall’s ballot. Their work this fall has included educational and candidate forums and door-to-door knocking to explain what charter government means and to gain support for passing the opportunity to create it.
Compare that to over $43,000 to blitz the county with ads on the radio and TV and in newspapers and the mail.
This is not an urban-rural divide. It is probably a mischaracterization to label the Home Rule side as newcomers and outsiders. That greases the slippery slope down toward tribalism. Greater La Conner, the town and Shelter Bay, are full of recent arrivals. If we start on a path toward a caste system based on longevity, everyone here since the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855 will have to agree to acquiescing to elders now living primarily on reservations.
Donald Trump was elected under the banner of change, as was Barack Obama before him. Most political candidates champion change versus the status quo of incumbency.
The simplest way to view a vote on Proposition 1 is as an opportunity to modernize Skagit County governance. The commissioner structure is based on the state’s 1889 constitution. The only way to change the 130-year-old rules the county is structured by is to elect freeholders to draft a charter. That charter will be presented to us – we, the people – for approval. It can be rejected if it doesn’t address the needs of a population growing to over 150,000 in the next 20 years.
The decision to elect freeholders is the county’s citizens. It will be a shame if cries of “No” on radio and TV are the factor swaying people’s votes.

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