Wilcox pushes for growth planning

"She doesn't need to run for a September primary, but Democrat Lynne Wilcox has been out walking the campaign trail for more than nine months in pursuit of the District 2 county commissioner seat.Wilcox declared her candidacy early last November, long before either Republican incumbent commissioner Mac McDowell or Republican challenger Marvin Koorn entered the race.While Koorn and McDowell battle it out for the chance to face her in the general election, Wilcox has spent the last couple months going door to door with a message of change for county government. Up until the election of District 3 commissioner Bill Thorn in 1997, Democrats had not held a commissioner seat in more than 20 years. Wilcox hopes give Democrats majority control in 2000.Growth management, or more precisely growth planning, is central to Wilcox's campaign.Ninety percent of the people I talk to are concerned about what's happening to Oak Harbor, she said. They're not happy with the way it's growing.Wilcox, an Oak Harbor realtor, says this is the same message she heard back in 1996 when she first ran for the commissioner post as a Republican against McDowell. She said eight years later, nothing has been done to alleviate people's concerns.I don't want to look back in 10 years and say we should have done something, she said. Despite criticism from McDowell that she leans too far to the environmental left, Wilcox places herself more in the middle and says on some issues she is as conservative as either of her Republican opponents.I understand both sides. I'm a realtor and I also understand the fragile nature of the environment on islands, she said.Wilcox admits that during her 30 years as an Island County resident, she participated in some of the land-use practices, such as grazing livestock in wet meadows, that are now considered environmentally damaging. But she said science and experience has since shown her that the rules need to change and the cry of property rights is no longer a good defense for landowners.Speculating in land is no different than speculating in the stock market, she said, adding that after many years of having property rights advocates leading county government, people only need to look around to see the result. When you have someone sitting there who is pro-development, something has to suffer. And it's often our way of life.Statements like that, along with her call for impact fees to help pay for growth, have cost Wilcox the support of many developers and builders. Nevertheless, she strongly defends her position. At a recent campaign rally she said that basing the county's economy on development and paving would only result in fouling our own nest.Looking at the role of government as a whole, Wilcox said she sees it in several ways.It's the thread that ties us together as a community; it helps keep us civilized; and we have to remember that the government serves the people and not the people serving government, she said. Ideologically that's what I believe. Do I think that's the way it is? No. That's why I think a change is necessary. "

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