Vashon could use a community council again

Though this island lacks a city council and mayor, it is not lacking in public meetings, whether it’s that of Vashon Fire & Rescue or the newly-formed public hospital district.

But there is a group, which first convened in 1976, that’s been lacking meetings over the years — the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council (VMICC). The group worked to improve ferry service, make dock repairs, provided support to a budding Vashon Park District and implemented a town plan. But years later, it was bogged down by legal wrangling with King County and from there, the group started meeting less formally and less often.

In 2018, ahead of a local town hall hosted by county officials, The Beachcomber printed an editorial saying we “would like to see a robust island conversation about the possibility” of the community council reforming.

In this new decade, that conversation is really happening. Last week, island attorney David Vogel, who was once president of the VMICC, convened a group of about 25 community members at McMurray Middle School to discuss forming a community council. That story appears on the front page of this edition.

Vashon-Maury Island needs a community council. While there are a lot of unanswered questions about its new iteration, perhaps the council could work on issues our elected officials on the island don’t have time to.

The council could also make for a more robust dialogue between islanders and county officials, who, through its Department of Local Services, have promised regularly-scheduled town hall meetings — though they do not occur as often as some residents would like.

At the very least, though, a community council would provide just what it sounds like — a sense of a community. Once a month, or every other week, islanders could come together and talk about the issues that are important to them and form a game plan to pass on to elected officials for action.

Before the council can act, however, those in this island community who want to see it come to fruition must work together — and in harmony. Local activist Diane Emerson seems mindful of this charge, stating in an email sent to islanders after the meeting that “it is important that we get the widest possible representation at these early formative meetings.” Those future meetings, including one scheduled next month, would determine how the group will run, who is on the council and who could vote.

The latter caught our attention. The previous council’s bylaws stated only those 18 and older could be members of VMICC, according to Vogel, but he said he is willing to explore a minimum age requirement of 16. If there are any substantial changes to the VMICC, maybe that should be one of them.

Hopefully, the community can launch the council in a positive way, unlike how it ended — in abandonment and confusion among members. It will take a focused, forward-looking group of people to establish a council and keep it going. We wish them well!