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PUBLISHER'S COLUMN | Attack on Christian values was a low blow
Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve certainly has a right to voice an opinion. The group has the right to file a federal lawsuit if members believe they’ve been wronged, and they did just that. However, COER can’t expect that everyone will agree with their position, or that others might not hold an opposing viewpoint.
Case in point, Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson, a staunch proponent of the Navy and its presence on Whidbey Island. Speaking on behalf of the Central Whidbey-based anti-noise group Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, the group’s president, Michael Monson, described Johnson’s recent letter of support for the Navy as “misleading and inappropriate” and brought her religious leanings into the discussion.
Worse yet, in an earlier email, Monson questioned Johnson’s Christian values with regard to the noise issue. At issue, Monson said, is Johnson’s use of her title and county letterhead in supporting the Navy and OLF.
I would argue that Johnson was showing the courage of her convictions. She makes no apologies for her support of the Navy presence. She is undoubtedly aware she is angering some of her constituency, but believes she is serving the best interests of her community.
If she is wrong, that is for the voters to decide at the polls.
As Johnson pointed out, fellow commissioner Helen Price Johnson was instrumental in organizing a controversial forum in Coupeville earlier this year that ultimately contributed to tensions between anti- and pro-OLF Coupeville citizens.
While Price Johnson didn’t take a public stand against jet noise, she urged residents who collected decibel readings to bring their findings to the meeting for discussion. There was no doubt that Price Johnson was leading the meeting in her role as a county commissioner. COER members voiced no objections to that.
Price Johnson later opted not to vote in favor of a resolution supporting Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and Outlying Field Coupeville. COER had no problem with that.
The resolution was supported by Johnson and the third commissioner, Kelly Emerson. COER bristled.
As county commissioners, Johnson and Price Johnson were elected to look at the bigger picture and represent what they believe is in the best interests of their constituents. However, the structure of a county commission is such that disagreements, discussion and compromises are expected.
COER doesn’t like that Johnson believes OLF Coupeville is crucial to the welfare of the Island County economy. That’s to be expected.
It’s OK to disagree and to try to build a case to change a commissioner’s opinion. To call Johnson’s actions “misleading and inappropriate,” and even go so far as to question her Christian values because of her support of the Navy, is poor form, even in this heated public debate.