In the last few years, we have all become more aware of the importance of local control and self-reliance, especially in light of the instability at all levels created by the plethora of troubles we are facing today. What we are missing on Vashon today is a focal point and clearinghouse for all island concerns and initiatives. Although there is a strong common interest among our residents about a lot of things, it is by no means unanimous. When minorities feel overwhelmed by a general consensus that does not include them, we are a weaker community and people may be suffering due to lack of visibility. We have an amazing number of organizations working on so many aspects of our community now, but how much better would it be if they were all working under an overall umbrella group that could coordinate all their work?
As some will remember, the original Vashon Maury Island Community Council (VMICC) imploded in 2010, due to a public information requirement required of any agency accepting money from the county. There was a single request under threat of suit for all email communications between the board members and, of course, nobody was keeping track of them. The result was, the whole board resigned and that was the end of it. At that point, the county saw that the funds given to community organizations was creating legal liability, and they eliminated all funding for community councils. A couple years later, Tim Johnson, the last chair of the board, agreed to meet with some of us to form a more open format community council. For the next two years, we held monthly meetings at the McMurray all-purpose room with full participation from the county. We never were able to attract the support of the movers and shakers of the original council and with no financial support and with just three of us remaining, we folded in 2015.
Now, with the return of long-time board chair of the original council, David Vogel, the VMICC is rising again in the more familiar old-style format. A small group has spent many months putting together articles and bylaws. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, they have been meeting monthly via Zoom and are ready to elect a new board of directors.
The board of directors do not make decisions for the community. They prepare agendas and run the meetings, facilitate communication between the community and governing and corporate bodies, monitor and evaluate committees, and bring issues before the council as requested by various groups and organizations on the island. The VMICC is a direct democracy deliberative body and the board only acts as a focal point and advocate for concerns brought before it and decisions made by the community. As such, the attributes of good board members are strong community interest, connections with various island groups, an open mind, and willingness to serve rather than dominate.
There will be nine members of the board of directors, seven of which will be elected by you and two of which will be selected by the elected board. Nine candidates have self-selected, so far, and we are hoping that more people will step up and nominate themselves. You can see the candidates thus far in an accompanying article in this issue. If your group or interest doesn’t seem to be represented among the current candidates, I strongly encourage you to nominate yourself or someone else in your group. The more representative the board is, the better it will be. Nominations will be accepted until midnight on October 20. You can familiarize yourself with the new council, register to vote, and/or nominate yourself for the board at the website, vmicc.net. Everything you need to know about the new council is there.
The election will be using a form of “ranked choice voting” which allows for a more nuanced representation of voter’s preferences. It takes into account second and third and lower choices of all voters so that all elected will have majority support and ties can be easily resolved. Ranked choice voting is the method of the future. The state of Maine has adopted it for all their elections. The biggest impediment to its acceptance is that it is difficult to explain. One example to get some idea is this: if nobody’s first choice achieves a majority vote, but everybody’s second choice does, that person, who may have been eliminated by our current system, is recognized and elected. In this election, you will rank all of the candidates, knowing that most of your choices will be elected, but, in the case of ties in the last few positions, ranked choice will be able to resolve them. The election will be primarily done by email, but those without access to email will be able to vote a paper ballot available at the service desks of both grocery stores. More detailed information is in the accompanying article in this issue.