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Island Life

I may have referenced this recollection somewhere in the past in this space- I can’t recall for sure one way or another. For those of you taking copious notes, I apologize if that was the case, but it is a story worth repeating, especially in this latest context. Since this particular memory is from events that happened forty years ago, I am remembering it like it was, well, forty years ago. It involved an election    at my college alma mater, and was perhaps my first experience with a perceived disdain for people with political ambitions, or politicos as they were and are known.

I was not overly interested in the campaign for president of the student council, or whatever it was called, until Pitt Dickey and his dog Sage entered the race as Prez and VP candidates respectively. What made them stand out, beyond the inter species thing, was their platform. While all the other candidates were concerned with student representation and stuff like that, Pitt and Sage were all about helping to make everyone’s wildest dreams come true- even the ones almost no one was dreaming about. The boy/student and his dog were all about bigger things, like building a dome over the entire campus, so every day would be a nice one. With so many domed, nice days supposedly on the horizon, Mr. Dickey sought to appeal to the agrarian in us all by suggesting that the main street in town be dug up and used as a field to grow corn. With no place to drive now, all of the students would be given horses and  the campus politicos would be tasked with cleaning up after them, which would presumably keep them occupied with doing something at least somewhat useful. Needless to say, while providing some humor to the process, Pitt and Sage were not successful in their bid to “stick it to the man”.

To be sure, I did learn a fair amount about what not to do in a campaign from this duo. Others who have contributed much to cautionary learning events surrounding various vote gathering endeavors might be the likes of Howard Dean, Donald Trump and Goodspaceguy, who I’m sure most everyone has marveled at (and subsequently ignored) with the arrival of each new exciting volume of the King County Voter’s guide. I have had one friend express concern that I should have been ramping up my campaign recently by taking advantage of exposure to the throngs thronging to the Strawberry Festival. I imagined myself hopping aboard the kiddie train that putts up and down the fairway through the crowd and making stump speeches during whistle stops from the caboose on the carbon footprint of VES field, the creosote footprint of the Tramp Harbor dock and, on a more positive note, the magic and wonder of 100 years of Point Robinson and its lighthouses. In truth, I didn’t see that flying amidst the noise and hot air already in great supply up there. I asked that same friend how much campaigning they had done in their successful past bid for park commissioner to which they answered: “None.”

Another friend has mentioned something to me about how they have been less than impressed with my campaign so far. In response I said that I believed that I had in essence been campaigning for the last three years, having been writing about the parks and their woes as well as recording all the meetings that I have been to (which is almost all in the last three years) so that all the Island might be able to witness what goes on there in the hopes that an informed awareness would help to force a culture change there. One of my opponents has stated on a number of occasions that he really doesn’t care what people think about the parks and how they are run. The other believes he is here to save them, and he showed me the emails to prove it. What I believe is that the success of the parks relies on all of us. As I have stated here before, what turned my opinion around regarding what was happening at Parks was the opening of the new skate bowl. While I was skeptical about its relative worth in the scheme of things, what I saw in its completion and the enthusiasm around its use was a continuation of what has been right with the parks as exemplified by the overwhelming support of the rowing, horse and lighthouse communities. And they are indeed communities, where what they are doing, and want to continue to do in the best way possible for their activity, should be a model for how the rest of Parks could run.

I have been and will be a supporter of the pool. I have also found that for the bulk of the year that I can live without it. As a reluctant joiner on to the Friends of Vashon Pool group, I knew that another big project, in this case the possibility of covering the pool for year ‘round use seemed like a long shot in the wake of the VES debacle. Through attending a number of FOVP meetings, I began to see a glimmer of hope that this particular dream could become a reality. What I still was not seeing was the same level of enthusiasm and commitment for this project from the swimming community as the others previously mentioned. I think once that arrives, the year ‘round pool will become an invaluable asset to the community- until it does it will continue to be four people trying to make it so.

In terms of politics, no one has yet asked about my grand flip-flop- that of both supporting parks and then advocating a no vote on the levy issue in a precipitous shift in enthusiasm and support. What that stemmed from was the sea change I experienced with Parks in regard to the success of the skate bowl and the announcement by Director Ott of her missions and goals for Parks, clashing with what I saw to be yet another subordination of the pool to any other activity in Parks, in this case the impending need to do something about the Tramp Harbor dock. It was a conflict in my mind between a facility with the potential for extensive year ‘round use and capabilities including a potential high rate of return from revenue that could go to operations, compared to a facility that a relative few use with no potential of generating revenue at all. It was a principle thing that moved me from yes to no, as well as a loss of faith in what I had believed in, both of which I have been dealing with in mass quantities in at least one other quarter of my life at the moment. The director and I have since worked things out- if only the other issues were that simple. I would like the opportunity to be a more direct part of the culture change at Parks, just don’t expect me to pontificate off the back of any festival kiddie trains.