Is freedom or comfort more important?

The plastic bag ban is not just an inconvenience for people and a mandate for businesses. There is a principle behind it — that government should decide things for people.

Today in America, we are living our lives by permission of the government, be it federal, state or local. Individuals and businesses are being told what things to do and not do.

Some people are OK with that; others are not.

Some people would say that the individual has rights, but that the government has rights that are above the individual’s. Others would say that there are no rights above the rights of the individual, any individual, no matter what economic class he or she falls into, or what race or political affiliation.

Whenever any of us has to deal with a new mandate — for masks, vaccines, plastic bags, plastic straws, whatever — we need to ask ourselves: Where does this stop? What will be forced or banned next? What things which I now enjoy or are now my property will I have to give up, because of what certain experts in relevant fields have declared?

I am not arguing for or against anything in this commentary. I am not saying the government should be deciding things for us or not. But I am arguing that at this critical time in our nation’s history, every one of us must now ask ourselves what it is we value the most in our lives: being free or simply being comfortable.

Jim Ashley



Vote yes on pool levy

I lend my whole-hearted support to the maintenance levy for the Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center.

When I moved to Anacortes almost 13 years ago, I was astonished to discover this small town had an excellent public pool. People in this community had provided opportunities for exercise and fun for children and adults for many years. I began using the facilities in early 2009 and continued regularly until the pandemic forced me to stay home.

As a “newcomer” to Anacortes, I have always felt a debt of gratitude to those who made our pool possible. Their generosity enriched my life. Supporting the maintenance levy is one small way I can say “thank you.” I hope you will join me and vote yes for the Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center maintenance levy.

Gay Woods



Pool vital community resource

When my wife and I moved to Anacortes five years ago, the Fidalgo Pool & Fitness Center was a big a draw for us.

We’ve been heavy users, and it’s clear to us that others feel the same way. It’s a vibrant hive of activity between the gym, the pool, and classrooms for yoga, dance and spin classes plus the availability of professional fitness coaching.

We are impressed that FPFC partners with the school district to offer free swim lessons for all third-graders, as well as hosting high school swim teams and supporting TAC and Masters swimmers.

It is literally a magnet for families and individuals, all of whom support our businesses, our hospital and schools. FPFC helps make Anacortes competitive with other communities for workers & families: it’s a one-stop shop for health, fitness and community.

Heck yes, we are voting yes on the Maintenance and Operating Levy in November. That will mean that the next six years of operating costs are covered. We can’t think of a better investment for the future of Anacortes.

Bill Hollman



Anacortes needs Miller

for mayor

I had the pleasure of working with Matt Miller for over 16 years. While I was president/CEO of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, Matt served as treasurer when we were thoroughly transforming the financial practices. Matt was awarded the Chairman’s Volunteer of the Year award for leading that process — we had the tightest financial procedures in the state, and many organizations followed suit.

What is most impressive about Matt is his career. He served 26 years in the U.S. Navy, ending his time as the executive officer at NAS Whidbey. He directly supervised 400 staff members who served over 10,000 sailors and civilians to ensure every aspect of the base operated in ship shape. He knows how to run a community and relies on his direct reports to get the job done.

After retiring, Matt and his wife Heather ran a successful children’s book and toy store for over 15 years. He understands the challenges and importance of brick-and-mortar businesses.

I worked closely with Matt during his service on City Council. He was always prepared, thoughtful and fair when making decisions.

We need a proven leader at the helm. We need Matt Miller.

Stephanie Hamilton



Vote yes on levy to keep pool open

Voters have supported Fidalgo Pool for decades by passing regular Maintenance and Operation levies. This election, we must renew our support for this community asset and approve the property taxes that are the backbone of the pool’s budget.

The pool’s benefits are well-known. It hosts swim lessons, swim teams, physical therapy and many programs that serve the wellness and recreation needs of all ages.

All that goes away without levy funds, which make up roughly half of the pool’s budget. No amount of belt-tightening or deferred spending can make up the difference.

Simply put, if the levy fails, the pool will close in a matter of months.

Pool leaders are asking for a six-year levy that would bring in about $760,000 next year. The 2022 levy rate would be 11.38 cents per thousand, the same rate we are paying now in the last year of the expiring six-year levy. The owner of a $500,000 home would pay about $57 next year.

The pool does not get a blank check and cannot realize windfall profits from escalating property values. Tax collections cannot exceed an increase of 1% each year.

Vote yes. Keep the pool open.

Jack Darnton



Farnsworth is the best


I have known Diana Farnsworth for around eight years.

In that time she has been a teacher, a mentor and a friend, and I can’t think of anyone more qualified to serve on the Anacortes School Board.

I first met Diana through our community theater, where she was teaching a Shakespeare and dramatic acting class. Although 10-year-old me thought Shakespeare was boring, her passion for what she was teaching and love for her students was inspiring.

She has used this same passion to research the inner workings of the School Board, as well as the specific issues it faces. As a School Board student representative, I have become very familiar with these issues, as well as the needs of the students and families.

Diana’s knowledge of these issues, as well as the experience and partnerships she has from her time at the library, will guarantee the future success of Anacortes schools.

Take it from a student, Diana is the best candidate for School Board.

Cassius Tossavainen



Schorr has

priorities straight

Erik Schorr has been a great friend and mentor of mine over the years. He is a great example of a person who has his priorities straight. He is an excellent father and loving husband, and he invests much of his time educating himself. Despite being busy, he always finds time to chat and have a laugh.

My favorite quality of Erik is his humility. No matter who he talks to, he is always willing to hear what you have to say. Erik and I have been friends for years now and, despite a 20-year age gap between us, he has always respected my opinions and engages with me regardless of whether he agrees with my point of view. What Erik always seems to be seeking is knowledge and truth.

Erik seeks to inform himself through extensive research and active listening. He enjoys hearing what others have to say and then engaging in respectful dialogue over points of contention. In this way, he develops a better understanding of the perspectives of others and a more empathetic worldview. This is a leadership quality that I support.

Vote Erik Schorr for School Board.

Alex LaLonde



Mcllmoyle best choice for School Board

It is with confidence that I recommend Meredith Mcllmoyle for Anacortes School Board, Position 1.

Her professional background and community service proves that she has the ability to work and get along with others in a team effort. I have had the pleasure of knowing her and her family for many years.

During this time, I have had the opportunity to observe the energy and compassion she brings to each project she’s involved in. I believe she will make the right decisions when it comes to our students, parents, staff and community.

Rick Harvey



Walters shows leadership, inclusivity

I’m writing this letter to anyone that recognizes the need for our town to be an inclusive one.

I was personally in attendance when all but one council member voted in favor of the City’s Resolution 2060.

The resolution embraced the idea that every person should be measured by the content of their character and the expectation that all individuals residing or visiting our town be treated fairly, free of mistreatment, targeting. The resolution firmly rejects acts of racism, bullying, intimidation and harassment. The resolution mentions being a city for all abilities, working toward more accessibility. The resolution ends with a commitment to maintaining Anacortes as a safe, just community for everyone.

Ryan Walters voted in favor of this resolution. He also did a lot of legwork to help pass it. Doesn’t our community desire to embrace the spirit of that resolution which accepts all kinds of people, with all abilities in order to maintain “Anacortes as a welcoming, safe, and just community for everyone?” Doesn’t true leadership go in the direction of protecting all of our community? A vote for Walters is a vote for this kind of leadership.

Laura Spehar



Graf will make a difference on council

Lived in Anacortes any length of time, you have heard our city called “Cantaffordus.”

We are a small city on a small island, and that reality drives a higher cost of living here.

However, the cost of city government has risen dramatically over the last eight years – from a budget with revenue of $43 million in 2013 to a proposed 2022 budget with revenue of $86 million. Anacortes is the same physical size as it was eight years ago and the population has only grown 13%, but the city budget revenue has doubled. The cost of virtually every city service, fee and tax has increased — some by citizen vote but most by council action.

During that time, there was only one consistent voice on the council for fiscal restraint, and he chose to leave the council to run for mayor. Fortunately, there is a candidate to replace him, Jeff Graf, that shares that same commitment to defending your wallet and demanding fiscal discipline.

Graf is the only candidate or continuing council person, for that matter, that has shown any interest in constraining the size and cost of city government.

Vote Jeff Graf for City Council.

Linda Wilhoit



Association endorses two candidates

The Anacortes Education Association seeks to endorse candidates that are pro-public education, regardless of party affiliation.

AEA invited all School Board candidates seeking endorsement to complete a questionnaire and attend a panel interview of educators from multiple grade levels.

Four of the five candidates responded and addressed questions about balancing the concerns of individual constituency groups with the needs of the whole community, ASD educational priorities and interpretation of the district equity goals. The Anacortes Education Association is proud to announce our endorsement of Diana Farnsworth (position 2) and Meredith McIlmoyle (position 1) in the 2021 School Board election.

The panel was impressed by Meredith and Diana in their desire to learn with care and consideration while improving communication between the district and the community. Both candidates showed a clear understanding as to how district hiring practices and policy making contribute to our constant efforts to create a school system that facilitates equity while fostering individuality.

The AEA is confident that both McIlmoyle and Farnsworth will seek input from educators on the frontlines while carrying out their elected duties with fidelity.

Jessica Pullen

Anacortes Education Association secretary

Cyberbullying is important issue

Recent news events in our country have informed us of the serious and pervasive nature of cyberbullying, particularly by and of teen girls with highly negative educational and personal outcomes.

I would like to ask all the School Board candidates if they have any experience with their children bullying or being bullied, what they felt about the outcome and how, as School Board members, they would address this serious problem. What policies would they support to help the victims and have enforceable consequences for the bully and their parents?

Brian Wetcher



Miller a proven leader

I strongly endorse Matt Miller for the great city of Anacortes. I personally observed his vision, infrastructure knowledge, collaborative decision-making and empathic leadership over a four-year period.

At Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, I was the Public Works officer and worked for Matt. He was very knowledgeable on base infrastructure and services, which mirror Anacortes — roads, water/wastewater, facilities, fire and security. He would gather an expert group to both develop long-range plans and solve complex issues, asking for the best options and opinions. He was equally skillful in leading police and fire services.

He led over 600 military and civilian personnel with genuine empathy and routinely engaging his robust counseling staff to help on thorny family, health and financial issues.

Matt is uniquely qualified – he did a “mayor” job at NAS Whidbey with spectacular results. His leadership, vision, knowledge and empathy resulted in major improvements and a very positive work environment. He was the driving force for the rating as the best Naval Air Station every year – an unprecedented feat.

Matt is proven leader who will achieve superior results for the great citizens of Anacortes.

Scott Smith




Miller a

well-rounded leader

Ballots are out now via mail, and your vote for Matt Miller for mayor is the clearly best choice.

Having watched countless Anacortes City Council meetings over the years, Miller has always stood out as being a keen listener and open-minded, honest and fair leader. He has frequently served as mayor pro tempore when our elected mayor was unavailable.

He has always performed as such with true, well-demonstrated leadership qualities. He is exactly what Anacortes needs in the office of mayor of our community. Miller is nonpartisan and is truly here to listen to the community and its needs then superbly plan and execute. Your vote does, indeed, count.

Please join me in electing Matt Miller mayor of Anacortes this November. He undoubtedly is the well-rounded, hard-working leader our community needs and deserves.

Linda Miller



Hubik offers smart, effective leadership

How can Anacortes maintain our beautiful environment, provide for growth, house our workforce and keep our small-town atmosphere? These challenges require smart, truly effective city leadership. Amanda Hubik is the candidate to take these challenges on.

I first met Amanda in her current legislative staff capacity during a presentation on the legislative session. She was outstanding in her intelligence, competence, and clarity — showing a strong grasp of complex policies while explaining them clearly. I was delighted to see that she had decided to run for public office on the City Council.

Amanda’s experience with tourism and marketing when she worked for the Chamber of Commerce gives her a strong local business perspective. Her work for the Legislature gives her the broader context, including work on climate change. Amanda’s platform emphasizes building affordable, workforce housing, sustaining environmental protections and supporting small businesses.

The city has made a good start on higher-density housing, neighborhood preservation, forest protection and fiscal balance. She will continue and enhance these directions. I strongly support Amanda Hubik. She will work well with others and listen to our citizens. She will be a dynamic, compassionate member of the City Council.

Sarah Pedersen



Vote Walters for mayor

In 2016, Anacortes concluded its multiyear Comprehensive Plan update — a process in which hundreds of community members participated. That plan highlighted the fact that we are a maritime community, and it adopted the policy for Anacortes to strive for a balanced and resilient economy that encourages growth of industries that offer family-wage jobs. It’s unwise to pursue an economy too focused on tourism, because a tourism-focused economy is a tourism-dependent economy.

We have a good roadmap forward in the recommendations of the City/Port Maritime Strategic Plan. But we need a mayor who will take this plan forward to implementation. Ryan Walters is that person.

Ryan has knowledge and understanding of maritime issues, and the vision of Anacortes as a place with permanent maritime industry as critical in our overall economy. He understands it’s essential to support and strengthen our 50-plus maritime businesses, which provide 1,200+ quality year-round jobs.

Ryan has championed the MSP recommendation to improve the boat ramp at Washington Park so middle-class families can enjoy boating, crabbing, and fishing — not only people who can afford marina slips. Waterfront access is important for our entire community.

Andrew Stewart


Support pool operations levy

As most of you are aware, there is on the ballot a vote to renew our operations levy to keep our much-loved Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center open.

The new levy is actually less than the current one. This will be critical to keeping our pool open and available to the public.

Hundreds of area families use this pool for the masters swim team, Thunderbird Aquatic Club swimming, AHS swim team. There are open swims for families, exercise programs open to the public as well as orthopedic and physical therapy programs aimed at restoring people’s health and well-being. In short, Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center is a fantastic resource in our small town.

Please join me in supporting our new operations levy by voting yes.

Jeff Hambleton



Stevens may offer balance

Balance – Celeste Stevens and the Anacortes School District No. 103 Board Election.

I don’t know this candidate, but I’d say from reading her Candidate Statement that she understands that the country faces existential challenges to our way of life – and to the prospects for our youths — and that the status quo may not remain to magically carry us through.

We should be thankful that there are those like Stevens willing to volunteer their knowledge; real, practical experience and perspective to maybe help us snap out of a belief that wishful thinking is enough to make our youngsters competitive in the future world. She may at least offer balance.

Lynn Schiveley



Walters is the choice for mayor

Whom should we choose for mayor?

The mayor ultimately reports to the 18,000 citizens of Anacortes. He ought to be experienced in finding solutions to problems where not everyone agrees. Ryan has worked with a variety of constituents throughout his career, is respectful of all points of view and has repeatedly demonstrated his door will be open to all.

The mayor needs to be a competent manager of city departments. As assistant director of the county and Samish planning departments, Ryan has been an innovative manager. His knowledge of municipal law and finance gives him the edge in helping departments find alternatives and do the financial planning required for long-term fiscal health.

The mayor needs to be a leader. Ryan has repeatedly demonstrated he’s a creative problem solver. He’s been bold where it matters, like addressing housing affordability through last year’s successful ballot measure. He’s also willing to change direction when the facts warrant it.

There’s one standout candidate who hits all these marks. Vote Ryan Walters for mayor.

Bill French


Put Walters at the helm

The City of Anacortes will remain the gem it is with Ryan Walters at the helm of mayoral leadership.

Ryan and I both grew up in Anacortes. Knowing him both personally and professionally, I confidently share with you that he works authentically, honestly and tirelessly for the good of his community, neighbors, family and friends.

Our gorgeous tree-filled city deserves a leader who knows the heart of long-term sustainability, land-use development and planning policy. I have witnessed Ryan’s direct effort and skill bring results that have benefited our quality of life countywide. After over a decade of working with Ryan, I know he will both guard and grow our city into one of the most sought-after destinations in Washington.

I have always known Ryan to make well-executed, informed decisions that secure people, planet and profit into community framework.

Callie Martin



Miller’s record is consistent

In the race for mayor, Matt Miller is the experienced leader with the resume to prove it. Anacortes doesn’t have a professional city manager. The mayor fills that role, and it makes sense to choose the person who has the expertise the job requires.

The hot real estate market has highlighted the high cost of living here. Even though most of what drives the market is outside city control, the issue has seeped into the mayoral campaign.

City government does affect affordability. Zoning and height restrictions are important, as are direct efforts to provide affordable housing. There are no radical differences between the candidates on these issues.

Taxes and fees are another matter. Both candidates have been on the City Council for a long time. Miller has a consistent record of trying to hold the line. He understands that expensive city government hurts working-class people whose ability to live here is already under siege from high rents and home prices.

Miller has walked the walk as a senior manager. He knows how to coax maximum value from every tax dollar, to keep Anacortes beautiful and accessible to people of varying financial means. He has earned our votes.

Mark Lijek



Pool key to health

I learned to swim in 1975 just after the Fidalgo Pool was built. My parents wanted me to know how to swim because we lived near the saltwater on an island with several lakes. I took swim lessons and later learned all of the different strokes while on the Thunderbird Aquatic Club. In high school, I competed on the boys swim team.

In 2010, I received a lifesaving heart transplant. Swimming was crucial to my recovery after my transplant for mental and physical health. Now as a Master swimmer, I am at the pool five to six days a week, either swimming or using the fitness center for strength training before work.

The Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center contributes to our citizens’ wellness and is such a valuable resource for our community. I believe that everyone needs to learn how to swim. This facility is an affordable and accessible exercise option for people of all ages.

Please vote yes on the pool levy and keep our pool open so we can all benefit.

Matt Castle



A fantastic slate of


Anacortes has a fantastic slate on the ballot, and I am proud to support the following:

I’ve endorsed Ryan Walters for mayor because of his incredible work ethic, ability to think strategically, dedication to our environment and commitment to maintaining economic vibrancy.

Amanda Hubik understands complex issues around housing and public services, balanced with her business savvy, which makes her an ideal fit for council. While legislators are partisan, our staff are not, as they provide access for constituents of all political views. She handles this with a level head and is responsive and helpful; solving problems for people every day.

Bruce McDougall deserves another term because of the tenacity he has shown delivering broadband to our community and because he brings that same level of energy to his council deliberations.

Diana Farnsworth has shown vision, inclusivity and a love for learning in all her work. I’ve seen her interact with children through the years and the clear enjoyment and empathy she brings is wonderful. Meredith McIlmoyle, with her background in the arts and as an active sports mom, will help bring an emphasis to the importance of nurturing the whole child.

Liz Lovelett



Farnsworth most qualified for schools

I have to admit that my initial impression of Diana Farnsworth was skepticism of a candidate sporting blue hair. Now months into the campaign it is clear that she embodies the same qualities — community service, commitment to education, command of the facts — that Anacortes came to trust for decades in Dr. Mel Farnsworth.

If there was any question left after earlier debates, her performance in the “AHS Live: ASD School Board Forum” should leave no doubt that she is the best prepared to fill the role of School Board Director Position 2.

Farnsworth’s understanding of how to deliver the school system our kids deserve goes beyond making coded references and framing issues as metaphors. Her real strength, though, is actual experience translating policy into action. Unquestionably all the candidates care deeply about kids, but Farnsworth has already shown she can bring together diverse interests to expand library access, add new extracurricular activities and craft programs that inspire students. She has my vote.

John Gold


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