Leaders list legislative longings

Mental and behavioral health are at the top of Island County elected officials’ priorities for the coming year.

At a Council of Governments meeting last week, mayors, port commissioners and county commissioners discussed the subjects they want state legislators to address in the upcoming session.

County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson recognized the historical investment made in behavioral health spending in last year’s state budget but said there’s more that can be done to better support local governments. She also wants to focus on the reduction of solid waste and climate change. She would like to see more investment in education about how to limit waste.

“So much of what people think is being recycled is not,” Price Johnson said.

Langley Mayor Tim Callison also wanted to focus on mental health and chemical dependency. He said he’d like to see more substance abuse prevention.

Callison mentioned that there should be more resources to build supportive housing, which is affordable housing that also offers social services. Recent legislation provides some money for affordable housing, but it doesn’t generate enough to complete a project, he said.

Callison also would like to see money for emergency preparation and, eventually, he’d like to see a foot ferry from Langley to Everett.

Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes would like the state to protect grant programs that allow small cities to perform street and infrastructure projects.

Hughes also prioritized housing and mental health, especially for young people.

The Port of Coupeville has been looking into to bringing high-speed broadband internet to the island, and port Commissioner John Mishasek listed that as one of his top priorities.

In addition, Mishasek said the preservation of historic assets, such as the Coupeville Wharf, should be considered.

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