Wednesday February 10, 2016

Charter Amendment Passage Means Complex Transition Ahead

The approval of three amendments to San Juan County’s Charter on November 6th has launched the County government into a six month period during which it will have three different County Councils and, when the transition is complete, the executive authority now held by an appointed administrator will be transferred to the elected Council.

The three members of the current Council whose terms end December 31, will serve out their terms. The Council members, who were elected in the November 6th election, will serve with the three members whose terms have not expired until the new three-member Council takes over in May.
The newly elected members whose terms will be truncated by the charter amendments  are: Rick Hughes of Orcas, Marc Forlenza of Friday Harbor and Bob Jarman, representing San Juan Island South. They replace departing Council Members Richard Fralick, Howie Rosenfeld and Lovel Pratt. Members Rich Peterson, Jamie Stephens and Patty Miller will continue to serve until the six member council goes out of existence in May.

The timeline for selecting the new three-member Council is as follows:

December 14, 2012 – filing deadline for County Council Candidates.
Beginning December 12, candidates can file in person at the County Elections Division or via fax or email. Filing fees must be received by the Elections Division no later than close of business on December 14. Candidates may file via U.S. Mail with postmarks as early as November 28. Online filing will not be available. 

All Council members will be selected by voters countywide, but the candidates must file for the position that corresponds to their residence – Basically Orcas-Blakely, Lopez-Shaw, and San Juan Island. (Updated district maps will be posted on the County website shortly).

February 12, 2013 – Council Primary Election (If needed)
If 3 or more candidates have filed in any district, voters will select the two that will appear on the general election council ballot.

April 23, 2013 – Council Election

May 13, 2013 – New  3-Member Council sworn in
The Council will define the duties and extent of the authority held by the County Manager that they appoint, and the Council’s relationship with departments not headed by an elected official.

The transition process offers some interesting possibilities, including the chance that two Council members could already be campaigning against each other for the same seat on the three-person Council when they are sworn in for a truncated term on the six-person Council in January. 

The timeline also complicates the recruitment of a County Manager, as it is possible that the final job description may not be written until the new Council takes office in May.

When appointed to serve after the resignation of Administrator Pete Rose last June, County Administrator Pro Tem Bob Jean informed the Council he would be available to serve until March 31. That was expected to be enough time to find a permanent replacement Administrator. After the passage of the charter amendments, Mr. Jean indicated that he will be discussing his availability to assist in transition process after the end of March.

More information about the Charter Review Process and the Amendments is available at
Complete election results are available at