Island County Commissioner Rick Hannold defended his appointment of Shannon Williams to the county planning commission after she expressed concern about the types of people affordable housing would serve.
Coupeville resident Jerome Rosen told Hannold at a board of commissioners meeting last Tuesday he was “quite disturbed” by some of Williams’ comments.
Williams said at a planning commission meeting that she didn’t think the housing element of the comprehensive plan should focus entirely on affordable housing, that some of the goals in it were “handouts” and that people who want to live in the county will “work for it.”
Rosen quoted some of these comments to Hannold on Tuesday.
“I feel somehow it doesn’t cast a good light on Island County to have these sentiments expressed, and I’m quite disappointed in Commissioner Hannold appointing somebody who’s clearly in conflict with the goals of Island County,” Rosen said.
Hannold said that while Williams’ comments were “poorly spoken,” he thought she is qualified to be on the commission and he agreed with some of the issues she brought up about the housing element— a document that guides long-range planning decisions.
“She had thoroughly reviewed those documents before going into the meeting and, to be honest with you, she brought up some very valid and good points,” he said.
In particular, he agreed that the element should focus on housing for people of all income levels rather than mostly affordable and subsidized housing. He said she is working with planning staff to see if the goals and policies can be altered. He also said he talked to her about tempering her language.
“She’s not a politician, so she’s not used to using all the flowery words like crisis and vulnerable people,” he said.
Commissioners Jill Johnson and Helen Price Johnson said they felt the goals established in the nearly-complete housing element update were appropriate.