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Skagit County commissioner candidate Mark Lundsten has been censured by his colleagues on the county Planning Commission after he wrote a letter they say undermined the board.

In the letter, Lundsten took issue with the process behind a recommendation on a proposal that would expand protections for great blue heron nesting sites, saying members relied on skewed testimony when making a decision. He was the only person on the nine-member commission to support the proposal.

Other members reacted strongly to this letter, saying it was an attack on the Planning Commission and its process.

Tammy Candler and Kathy Mitchell, who most vocally opposed Lundsten’s action, said at a meeting held Sept. 22 that his letter is offensive and undermines the commission’s recommendation by publicly voicing a contradictory opinion to the county commissioners.

Candler said she found a similar letter that Lundsten wrote in 2018 dissenting from a different recommendation of the Planning Commission and was concerned with this pattern of behavior.

Tim Raschko, chair of the Planning Commission, called the letter an attack on the credibility of himself and his colleagues, in a letter responding to Lundsten’s.

Lundsten said he sees his letters as a presentation of a minority opinion to the county commissioners, so they could have a fuller understanding of the issue before making their decision.

“It was a criticism of the product of our work,” he said at the meeting. “It’s saying I don’t think we did a very good job.”

The Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing land-use issues and offering recommendations to the county commissioners on policy.

Candler said the censure is a warning, clarifying that the commission doesn’t agree with his behavior.

Planning Commission bylaws call for “losing gracefully,” something Candler and Mitchell said is violated in this letter.

Candler also took issue with the fact that the letter was not sent directly to other members of the Planning Commission, though Lundsten said he was under the impressionn that staff would disseminate it.

The Planning Commission voted 7-2 to censure Lundsten.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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