LETTER: Time to start work on creating new model

Thanks to The Beachcomber for raising the issue of a new community council (“Vashon Community Council: Is it time to bring it back?” May 30) and to Bill Tobin for continuing the debate (“Understand Community Council’s history before bringing it back,” June 13). As an islander of 25 years, I took part in the old community council and saw both its great value and its great weaknesses, and I believe that we should bring this issue back up for serious consideration.

Times of great change are upon us. We all know that. No one who has seen the dozens of high rise buildings going up all over Seattle and the massive traffic jams on the freeways can doubt that we are in the middle of a transformation of Northwest life. To make its way, Vashon will need to do more than trust in the benevolent intentions of our King County governors. We will need a seat at the table, a way to make our community a player in the future of our own island.

The old Vashon Community Council was a flawed model even in its time, and the current situation, no council at all, doesn’t work either. We need something much better than the old model, something that is truly representative of our community and something with the power to influence important decisions and help direct the funding that is spent on our behalf.

I would propose a community council that is directly elected by the population of Vashon, on the regular King County ballot and truly representative of the island population. The council should also have real funding, staff and an office. We need people who are employed and overseen by Vashon to help us in dealing with the immense bureaucracy that is King County. How to structure such a council, what its powers would be, and how it would work with King County are matters that are not simple and will need serious debate by the island community. But I think it is long past time to get started working on it.

— Steve Graham

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