Islanders have an activist bent, with many eager to become involved in civic affairs and engage in hands-on work to make life better in our community, county and state.
That’s good — because there is no shortage of hard issues that need to be tackled these days.
In a COVID update from VashonBePrepared this week, there is a call for volunteers to join Vashon’s Emergency Operations Center. We cannot think of a more worthy organization to assist, or a finer group of community-minded people to join. Email email@example.com if you’d like to join the EOC in its important work.
Also this week, we cover the only two candidates who are running in a contested local election this November. We salute them for throwing their hats in the ring, and their eagerness to represent islanders on the Parks Commission Board.
We’re also eyeing developments in our school district, following Bob Hennessey’s recent resignation from the school board. To fill his seat, the board put out a call for applicants to apply for Hennessey’s seat, and five islanders have stepped up to be considered. You can meet them at a school board meeting this Thursday, which will be held in person and also broadcast on the district’s YouTube page.
We were sorry to see Hennessey go — he played an important role on the board, often serving as a more tough critic of the district administration’s proposals and decisions than any of the other current board members. We hope that whoever is chosen to fill his seat will have the same passionate approach to governance that Hennessey displayed during his long tenure.
But you don’t need to serve in public office to make a difference on issues you care about.
In this week’s letters to the editor section, you’ll read a call to action from islander Ed Palmer, who is gathering signatures for petitions for Initiative 1436, which would allow Washingtonians to opt-out of Washington’s new long term care program, Washington Cares, and the payroll tax that goes along with it.
While not as scathing as Palmer in its criticism of the new program, The Seattle Times editorial board also opined on Sunday that Washington Cares has real flaws that need fixing. We’re glad Palmer used this space to raise concerns about the program because it impacts all workers in our state. If you aren’t well informed about Washington Cares, study it.
And speaking of big problems that need fixing, can we talk about the ferries fiasco? While it’s hard to see how any of us can make a difference in the problems that have resulted in system-wide slowdowns and cancellations last weekend, we all need to be engaged and informed about what is happening, and not leap to simple conclusions about a deeply complex, pandemic-related problem.
On social media, some islanders angrily blamed the ferry woes of the past weekend on unvaccinated ferry workers, speculating that these workers had staged a sick-out, in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccination matter.
However, the fact of the matter is that only 28 people called in sick on Friday, with 202 other people unavailable for other reasons, according to Ferries spokesperson Justin Fujioka, who added that those kinds of numbers were not unusual.
But in a year when many ferry workers have already worked long hours of overtime due to COVID outbreaks and other reasons, there were simply not enough workers willing to accept yet another fill-in assignment, he said.
So the problems at ferries are deeper than unvaccinated ferry workers having a tantrum. Ferry workers — 87% of whom have now shown proof of vaccination, according to WSDOT, deserve our support and sympathy.
We urge islanders to contact Gov. Inslee, to tell him to move our broken ferry system to the top of his list. A healthy workforce, after Oct. 18, will at least provide the first building block necessary toward fixing the system’s problems.