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Community Council Meeting of August 4, 2009

Dewey Beach Fire Hall, 7:00 PM

SFCC Calls Special Public Meeting to Discuss Council Structure

A special meeting of the South Fidalgo Community Council will be held at 7 pm, Tuesday, August 4, at the Dewey Beach Fire Hall, at the intersection of Hwy 20 and Deception Rd in Anacortes. 

The purpose of the meeting is to consider a possible alternative structure for the council. During the past several months council members have begun to recognize and identify concerns that require attention in order to more effectively represent south Fidalgo Island. Community members are encouraged to attend the meeting and will have an opportunity to comment. 

The South Fidalgo Community Council plays a vital role in identifying issues of concern to the unincorporated areas of Fidalgo Island and representing these on the local, county, and state levels.

Those considering filing to run for the council in the fall election may wish to wait until after that meeting to submit candidate forms.

For further information, contact Tom Carson,; 293-8557.

South Fidalgo Community Council


August 4, 2009 Special Meeting

Dewey Beach Fire Hall

Council members in attendance: Tom Carson, Jan Hersey, Harold Harrington, Cyndi Walters, Robert Atterberry, Dave Pearson. Leigh Sawyer was excused.

 Guests: Carol Harrington, Sheila Pritchett, Chuck Peterson, Steve Kuchin, Val Aadsen, Jay Ham

 Chair Jan Hersey called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.

 Council members were introduced.

 Jan gave an overview of council work and then the purpose of the special meeting.

  • zoning needs of south Fidalgo that may be different than county zoning
  • subarea plan
  • change of structure of the council

 Tom Carson first explained that the council was created based on a state model that the creators thought would work. In actuality it has not worked for us. We haven't been able to bring in the community to work within the present structure. We presently have 4 year terms, 7 members, open public meetings. He then presented the councils vision for a new structure.

 Our plan is to amend the Articles and Bylaws to more effectively support South Fidalgo Community Council work, and increase community involvement.

 Significant Considerations

  • SFCC commitments:
    • provide for on-going representative body
    • assure accessible/inclusive election process
    • build credibility based on community involvement
  • Problem areas in current structure:
    • formality of structure:
      • tends to set council apart from grass roots involvement; e.g. public assumes issues go to SFCC for remedy
      • restricts primary people resources to 7 members:
        • reduces range of desired skills
        • limits number of people available to work
      • provision for filling vacancies restricts consideration of desirable skills
      • potential for discontinuity (3-4 members can change every 2 years) esp. significant in light of limited number (7), length of terms, issues of succession and potential for politicization (see below)
      • open/public meetings provision inhibits ability for study/work sessions
    • election process tends to be politicized (pro-SFCC or no-SFCC)
    • four-year term commitment discourages candidates

 3. Preferred Structure

  • establish community model
  • open to all registered voters in Dewey, Fidalgo and Rosario precincts
  • fall annual meeting
  • elect council members
  • set goals
  • design budget
  • identify potential sources to support budget
  • social event (pot luck to build our community)
  • annual election
  • open to all registered voters in 3 precincts
  • candidates register in time for publication of names and statements
  • council members elected for staggered terms (2 years?)
  • increase total members (9-12?)
  • selected from each precinct (2-3 each?)
  • plus at-large (2-3?)
  • all voters vote for all precincts plus at large
  • election at annual meeting
  • after annual meeting council selects own leadership team for next year
  • council fills any vacancy for duration of unexpired term
  • council role
  • holds regular, publicized and open (monthly?) meetings
  • coordinates work among grass-roots working groups
  • collaborates with other concerned groups with similar interests
  • provides for constituency review of work, esp. public positions, builds credibility
  • makes final decisions on public documents such as a sub-area plan, testimony before county or other (e.g. DOT) agencies

 4. Transition Plan to be determined (example of topics only)

  • refine membership provisions
  • date of annual meeting
  • number/distribution of council positions
  • detail election process/provisions
  • change legal documents (Articles of Inc. & By-Laws)
  • provisions for amending documents
  • disposition of existing council
  • "neighborhood" meetings

Public Comments:

 Question: How will this affect our currently scheduled election.

            We will need to meet before next weeks meeting to come up with a plan and deadline for candidate filing. If we vote tonight to accept the new model we should be able to have enough time to have everything ready for the fall (Oct) meeting and election and have the new council in place by Nov.

 Dave described the boundaries of Fidalgo Precinct. There is a precinct map on the website, it was suggested we bring it up to the front page.

Question: Would it make sense to have two candidates from each precinct and one at large.

            Part of our preferred structure is to give more representation to all the precincts so two councilmembers would be elected from each precinct and then some at large.

 Sheila commented that more than nine people can't be managed. If you are going to change the model you first need to talk to other councils to see what works for them. King County councilmembers Tom Carpenter and Vashon Jim English are two who could be helpful.

 Steve K commented that all the state and local committees that he has been on get the most done with 5-8 members.

 Sheila said that the number of community votes matter. If you don't have a strong showing in the election you will lose your credibility to the county. You need to make every effort to inform and allow every voter the opportunity to vote.

 Question: What about the public meeting requirement?

            We are not a government body so we can change the requirement. We would continue to have monthly public meetings and involve the public in the decision making process. The strength of the community model is to build involvement. Not all residents are interested in the subarea plan. We would like to find ways to bring more people in to the process and join in on the work studies.

 Steve said that one way ito connect with the public is to layout objectives and goals.

            In our new plan the community would create the goals and objectives for the year at our annual meeting. We see the community council as a conduit from the community to the county and the county back to the community.

 Sheila said that our problem is lack of communication.

 Carol said that working on the subarea plan, property rights are issues that will bring people in.

 Chuck said that people of south Fidalgo have been sitting on their thumbs for foo many years. Decisions are made at the county without residents input and then they don't even abide by their own rules. The subarea plan has to happen. SFCC as an advisory group is how it is done.

 Dave Pearson spoke and said that he disagreed with changing the structure and effective tonight he resigned.

 Harold made the motion to move forward with our revised plan. Tom seconded. Motion carried four in favor and one abstention (Cyndi)

 Plan for next meeting: before the 12th we need a work session to work on the amendments. Also we would like to meet with Ellen Bynam, Cindy Richardson, Ryan Walters, Tom Carpenter, and Steve Orsini to receive their advice and input on our plan.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:30 pm.