I admire and look up to both Rhea Miller and Kevin Ranker for their hard work in the past for San Juan County, and for their ongoing commitments. My hat is off to them. I would vote for them again.
I know that they both give 150% to whatever engages their deepest commitment. That is why I am perplexed by their support for a return to full-time council members. We know that devoted representatives will always put in more time than their salary compensates them for, and non-devoted representatives will always put in less time than they are paid for. To go back to three unequal at-large districts in order to acquire full-time legislators is silly.
In addition, the myth of “empowerment” through unequally districted, at-large voting needs a reality check. The majority that elected Rhea Miller came from the “other” five voters from San Juan and Orcas for every one vote from Lopez. My one vote from Orcas was one of them. District inequality is not “empowerment.” In the election for Kevin, the numbers were four votes from elsewhere for every two votes from Orcas. This is empowerment only for other districts to elect “my” representative!
I will never forget how adamant my friends from Lopez were to hold on to their one-in-six chance to influence the outcome of the election for Orcas and San Juan and to keep their one-in-six chance of electing their very own Commissioner. The ability to have 100% of their voting strength within their own district for their own representative somehow seems to not be good enough for Lopez, and here’s why.
Under the old BOCC system to which the Pro CRC proposition folks want to return, Lopez held one-third of the vote on the BOCC even though Lopez is only one-sixth of SJC’s population. It is highly probable that back then, we had the most numerically gerrymandered county in the United States! This disparity was also one of the red flags which prompted the Charter movement to begin with, and if we go back to our old ways by passing Propositions #1 and #2, it will be a red flag again.
Referring to the numbers above, one only needs to ask; does the resulting at-large legislative body accurately represent the “entire” county? Does the entire legislative body represent the values of each district, or is the same homogenized majority being represented in all districts’ legislative members?
As of now, we are in compliance with the one-person-one-vote requirements set forth by the RCWs just like everyone else in WA state is. I would hope San Juan County representatives in the near future would be more interested in all the very important environmental and economic issues both Kevin and Rhea site as important, instead of trying to explain their way out of disproportionate district representation, vote dilution, and the return to the numerically gerrymandered San Juan County of the past.
Former Orcas Freeholder