Next week, nine candidates running to be commissioners of Vashon-Maury Island’s proposed public hospital district will come together for the first time and answer questions from the general public.
It’s all part of an “Ask the Candidates” forum organized by Indivisible Vashon and Unifying for Democracy, scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Vashon United Methodist Church. Members of the public will have a chance to ask questions by submitting ones in writing before the event begins or speak during the forum itself.
Debby Jackson, the lead planner of the forum, told The Beachcomber the event is less about the complicated issue of a hospital district — although a state representative will speak at the forum’s outset to explain — and more about the candidates themselves: Bonny Olney, Erik Pryne, John Staczek, Bill West, Don Wolczko, Wendy Noble, Tom Langland, Dan Erin and LeeAnn Brown.
“You don’t know all the details of the hospital district when you vote for people,” Jackson said. “That’s why it’s so important to vote in people that you feel are competent qualified, transparent, have a vision that matches yours and are collaborative.”
Jackson not only makes a notable distinction about the forum’s purpose — she should give islanders a moment to reflect on the fact that governing bodies are not just about policy, but the people we elect. They’re typically people who live in our communities and face the same challenges as any other citizen. In this case, it’s more than likely the hospital district commissioner candidates know first-hand what it’s like to receive health care on the island. So we should ask them: If the shoe were on the other foot, and you were a voter looking to a commission to solve health care problems, what would you like them to do?
There’s plenty of questions that can we asked of the candidates on the policy front, but for now, considering the purpose of the upcoming forum, these are ones residents might want to consider:
• What is it about your background that makes you best suited to tackle health care, one of the island’s most pressing issues?
• Are there any moments in your life when health care truly made a difference to you or someone you care about?
• Can you tell us about what your experience with island health care has been like?
• What should the first priority of the board be once members are seated?
• How will you all work together as board to give islanders confidence that a public hospital district can work for, not against, them?
• Name three things a hospital district would fix and three things it would not.
These are just six suggested questions for the upcoming forum, but there are so many more to ask. Islanders will have about two hours to do just that. If you’re an islander and you care about the future of health care here, then we’d be pretty hard pressed to find an excuse for you not to attend the candidate forum next week.