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No opposition limits Whidbey General Hospital pamphlet

Because nobody has yet come forward to write an opposition statement for the upcoming bond election to fund an expansion of Whidbey General Hospital, it’s possible there won’t be any pro-or-con information appearing in the online voter’s pamphlet.

The Island County Auditor’s Office only publishes pro-and-con statements if both are provided.

“We will not post one without the other,” said Michele Reagan, deputy for the Island County Auditor’s Office Thursday afternoon. Instead the  office will simply post the neutral explanatory statement in the online information regarding the May 17 special election. The Whidbey General Hospital bond is the only item on the ballot.

Reagan said the policy of refusing to publish if only one statement is submitted avoids giving an impression that the Auditor’s Office is taking a side on a particular ballot measure.

In a special meeting Thursday morning, the hospital’s board of commissioners named the Friends of Whidbey General Hospital to write the support statement that may appear in an online voter’s pamphlet. Commissioners Roger Case, Ron Wallin and Paul Zaveruha voted in favor of the statements. Anne Tarrant and Grethe Cammermeyer were absent from the special meeting.

Officials said they didn’t find anyone to write an opposition statement. If a critic doesn’t step forward by April 11, no pro or con statements will appear.

“We’ve had no communication,” Whidbey General Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said about anyone coming forward willing to write an opposition statement for the upcoming bond.

Hospital officials advertised for the pamphlet through a legal notice in local newspapers.

Whidbey General Hospital filed to run a $50 million bond that will fund construction of a new wing that will be built on the south end of the Whidbey General Hospital campus. The proposed building includes 39 single-bed rooms.

The Friends of Whidbey General Hospital is a volunteer group that formed to help promote the bond. Volunteers will write letters to the editor, organize an appearance in the upcoming Holland Happening parade and picket busy intersections in the weeks leading up to the official May 17 election date. Ballots will be mailed several weeks earlier.

Whidbey General Hospital spokesperson Trish Rose helped organize the group and it has registered with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, she said.

Joe Vessey, hospital chief financial officer, said the hospital has until April 11 to submit statements for the voter’s pamphlet.

If someone comes forward willing to write an opposition statement, Vessey said it would be up to the hospital board to make a decision. Commissioner Zaveruha

said the board could hold a special meeting in such a case.

“It’s just a normal process of the election that we’d cooperate with,” Zaveruha said.

Island County will only publish an online version of the voter’s pamphlet. Several years ago, county commissioners decided to eliminate a printed version in a money-saving move. Reagan said that it would cost a staff position to publish and deliver a printed copy of the voter’s pamphlet. Election information can be viewed at www.islandcounty.net. Click the “Election” button.

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