Opinion

Editorial: How to serve only one term

Island County Commissioner John Dean, D-Camano Island, was a fine fellow with good intentions, but his four years in office should serve as a case study for all politicians who want to serve more than one term.

Dean came into office with an environmental agenda that the majority of islanders no doubt supported. But he ran smack dab into the biggest recession since the Great Depression and failed to take notice of it. Huge new programs were adopted with no regard given to the financial difficulties being faced by his constituents.

The mandatory septic system inspection program didn’t have to be so broad, at least not to start out. Inspections every year for many people living along the shoreline was too much to ask. Lots of them are retirees and few are going to take a county course in how to inspect your own septic system. Instead, they pay a new “tax” of roughly $200 a year for the inspection. Of course, the vast majority of property owners have totally ignored this new law, making one question the wisdom of adopting it in the first place.

Likewise, most islanders favor keeping our drinking water clean and better monitoring and controlling what washes off the island into Puget Sound. But this was not the time for a new tax of approximately $40 per parcel to fund a new $2 million environmental program, with even higher rates a certainty in the future. It may not seem like much to a commissioner making over $70,000 a year, but tell that to a senior citizen who hasn’t seen an increase in his or her Social Security check in two years. And it must be pointed out that this tax came after a humiliating defeat at the polls last summer when nearly 70 percent of Island County voters rejected the commissioners’ plea for a tax increase.

The lesson to be learned by aspiring politicians is that it’s fine to have ideals and goals, but at times one’s personal agenda must be set aside until conditions improve. Otherwise, in four years you’ll likely be looking for a new job -- and they’re not easy to find these days.

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