On Monday, Oct. 5, the League of Women Voters presented an excellent online session with the candidates for Island County Commissioner.
The League and its questions were excellent, and the candidates’ answers were informative.
It seemed clear from the candidates’ responses that, by far, the most qualified are Democrat Melanie Bacon in District 1 and Republican Jill Johnson in District 2.
Bacon has worked in the county’s Human Resources office for 10 years. She’s been involved with each aspect of county government. Her answers showed a firm grasp of issues faced by the county and workable ideas for dealing with them, including budget shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, the need for increased social services in times of unemployment, social tensions and housing affordability.
Jill Johnson is running for her third term as commissioner. Her responses showed not only the clear understanding of issues facing the county which one would expect from a two-term incumbent, including not only budget shortfalls, but also the urgent need for social services as well as an understanding of housing issues which might not be expected from a Republican. Her answers were articulate and thoughtful.
Frankly, we’ve seen on a national level the chaos which can result when those with little government experience are elected to administrative offices.
That concern doesn’t apply to District 1 candidate Damian Greene, who has useful experience as a school board member and would no doubt study hard as a new commissioner. However, Melanie Bacon will be ready from day one.
To be honest, I’m surprised by my own decision to vote for Jill Johnson. It’s difficult to overlook her response to Coupeville’s resistance to increased Growler noise. Nonetheless, it seems clear that she’s grown into the job and shown not only an understanding of county issues as well as budgets, but an ability to work with those whose political philosophy she may not share.
Her opponent, fellow Republican Dan Evans, seems to offer little but standard right-wing complaining. It’s difficult to imagine him working well with anyone.