Letters to the Editor

The community council's future: An open letter to the community

Have you been to a Vashon-Maury Island Community Council meeting and left feeling disappointed and discouraged? Do you believe there’s a better way to solve community issues and advocate for ourselves?

The time has come to create a new representative and collaborative forum that encourages participation and civil discussion of community issues and priorities. We are meeting now to explore possibilities and to engage the community in adopting a positive alternative for community meetings and decision-making — one that will reflect our Island community’s core commonality where empowered and generative dialogue is encouraged and supported. 

We face many challenging issues; we need to move beyond polarization to consider the concerns and viewpoints of different people in ways that produce common sense solutions. To do this, we need creative, thoughtful dialogue taking many perspectives into account. The structure of our current VMICC doesn’t allow this.

Many other communities and citizen groups have developed inspiring, creative, collaborative decision-making groups. We can do that here! For examples, please see: Martha’s Rules (www.earthconclave.org/Marthas.htm); Core Principles for Community Engagement (http://www.thataway.org/files/Core_Principles_of_Public_Engagement.pdf); or Citizens Deliberative Councils (http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_EmpoweredDialogue.html).

Today, King County is considering alternative formats to the Unincorporated Area Councils. Although the current VMICC board is gearing up to “fight” for continued UAC status, we welcome the invitation from county Councilmember Joe McDermott to work with our elected representatives to find a more responsive and less rules-bound way to consider community issues and to interact with King County officials and staff.

The county has given us an opportunity here. Let’s seize it! If you believe the current VMICC has become too confrontational and combative, that the format that has developed under the UAC legislation no longer represents our community and is not open to your voice and participation, we urge you to write or call Joe McDermott at joe.mcdermott@kingcounty.gov or 296-1008, King County Executive Dow Constantine at Dow.Constantine@kingcounty.gov or 263-9600, or Lauren Smith, Constantine’s unincorporated area relations manager, at lauren.smith@kingcounty.gov or 263-9606.

Tell them you support a new way forward for our community council. Write or call now.

If you would like to add your signature to this letter, please go to  http://tinyurl.com/3dxle4f. We will send this letter with all signatures to our elected representatives after May 25.

— Jim Bazemore, Christine  Beck, Craig Beles (former VMICC president), Jean Bosch (former VMICC president), Jim Burke, Douglas Dolstad, Hilary Emmer, Jim Garrison, Norine Grace, Tom Herring, Frank Jackson (former VMICC president), Ellen Kritzman, Jim Otis, John Runyan, Dan Schueler, Mary G.L. Shackelford, Janie Starr, Kirk Starr, C.C. Stone and Sue Trevathan


Editor’s note

The Beachcomber does not, as a rule, print letters with multiple signatures. But because of the ongoing concern over the VMICC’s future and the depth and breadth of the discussion currently under way, the paper agreed to run this letter, signed by 20 Islanders.






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