Candidates hope to change dialogue in local politics

Crowell

Two candidates vying for a seat on Coupeville Town Council said local dealings with political issues like jet noise motivated them to run.

Brett Rebischke-Smith and Christine Crowell are both running for council position four, which is currently held by Dianne Binder.

Rebischke-Smith said he feels local politics has become much more about what team you’re on rather than the ideas presented.

“It’s not about the worth and merit of ideas,” he said, “but who comes up with them, and that’s a problem for me.

“OLF is large in everyone’s mind. I don’t have a particular stance, but everyone has rights in the issue. We have mechanisms in place to mitigate, and it is not unjust for the Navy to pursue its rights just as much as the residents.”

Crowell said locally it’s communication that’s the issue.

“During our last election cycle, I, like most people, was discouraged by the nature of discourse around the election,” she said in a prepared statement.

“Candidates did not discuss issues, and respect for another’s opinion didn’t exist.

“Locally, disagreements around jet noise caused accusations of Coupeville not supporting the Navy and potentially influenced grant awards.”

“I see a huge lack of communication around these issues when lines are drawn and accusations levied early in discussions.”

Rebischke-Smith said, if elected, he wants to hear everyone’s ideas.

“The vitriol is depressing to me,” he said. “The fight, again, is people putting on their jerseys and saying ‘your team is bad.’”

Similarly, Crowell said she wants to hear all sides.

“I believe that good decisions are made only after considering many options and opinions,” she said.

“To do so, we must listen to each other and respect each other’s thoughts and opinions, even if we don’t agree. When I try to understand the reasoning behind your opinion, I learn about another piece of the puzzle.

“We must find a way to solve the problems of our town in a way that does not try to oversimplify issues and result in name calling.”

Another prominent issue in Coupeville is the contamination of one of the town’s wells by Navy firefighting foam.

“I know safe drinking water is a concern to everyone and should be,” Rebischke-Smith.

Crowell said that while the town is currently working to figure out solutions, more information is needed.

“We need to learn if drilling another well/wells is feasible,” she said. “We need more information on the efficacy of filters and the cost involved. And we need to consider the underlying aquifer.”

“ What can we do without damaging our future water provision?

“Unfortunately, while many of us are disturbed and frustrated with this problem, jumping to the quickest answer will most likely not provide the best solution.”

Crowell is a retired lawyer who provided volunteer legal services for Island County and served as a court-appointed children’s guardian ad Litem and arbitrator in Snohomish County. She currently writes children’s books and paints.

She serves on the board at the Pacific Northwest Art School.

“I don’t claim to have the answers to all of Coupeville’s problems,” she said. “I do promise that I will give my all to addressing problems by listening to all of Coupeville’s citizens with respect and a genuine effort to understand all points of view.”

Brett Rebischke-Smith moved to Coupeville nine years ago when his wife was hired as a nurse at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center.

For the better part of those nine years, Rebischke-Smith was a stay-at-home dad and part time baker. He opened Brett’s Breads, which sold items at the Coupeville Farmers Market, and for a while had a storefront. He just started a job with Island County doing general services administration.

Rebischke-Smith said he has a knack for finding solutions and his experience serving on the farmer’s market board will serve him well on the council.

“I’m here to try and help the people of my community,” he said. “I don’t particularly want to be a politician. I’m a baker.”

“I will try and do my piece to get people talking again to one another rather than at one another.”