Letter: Bacon is a rare, genuine politician


There are hard and fast reasons why I support Melanie Bacon in her reelection campaign for county commissioner. She works diligently on issues important to me, including protecting our forests and open spaces, responding to sea level rise, and finding affordable housing solutions. But today I’m writing about what I think is important to both you and me, which is how our elected officials deal with other people.

Melanie is a collegial, respectful and genuinely kind person, an increasingly rare find in politics. She doesn’t always agree with the other commissioners, but she expresses her disagreements respectfully. She listens to other people, deeply listens. And she works to find solutions everyone can live with. That doesn’t mean she can’t be a stickler in the face of opposition — consider her repeated attempts to regulate fireworks as our summers get hotter and drier, or her consistent stand against opening a county road on Camano that would lead to development in a large forest — but she listens respectfully to the opposition and collaborates to achieve workable solutions. That’s how she has built trust with fellow commissioners and staff who know they can take her at her word and depend on her consistency and fairness. Just ask them.

She is also respectful in her dealings with the public, and that includes you and me. I believe her characteristic that most stands out is how accessible she is to citizens, all of us. She holds regular meetings throughout her district where anyone can talk with her about anything. She listens to our stories and takes them back to the commission. She genuinely cares. A good example of how this can play out is how she handled the Harbor Inn transition to temporary housing a few years ago. Melanie knew there was community opposition to the project, but because of our dire need for this type of housing she remained firm in her support. She held a community meeting where over 100 people showed up, most in opposition — and still she stood her ground, taking the heat and answering questions showing such grace and tenacity amid the anger that one man in opposition stood up to compliment her on her “balls.” Since then, she has paid close attention to this housing project because she understands the community’s concerns and wants to make sure that what they worried about never happens.

Also in Freeland, the county wanted to put in two roundabouts on Main Street. Melanie supported the idea because she thinks it would improve traffic. The county held a community meeting to discuss the project. Freeland people are engaged — over 90 showed up. Melanie listened to them and read their written comments — it was clear the vast majority who attended were opposed to the roundabouts. Melanie will still tell you roundabouts are a good idea, but her recommendation to her fellow commissioners was to not move forward with the project because the people who would be most impacted by it — residents — were not in support. (BTW, she is the loudest voice pushing WSDOT for roundabouts at South Whidbey highway sites where we’ve seen repeated accidents.)

There are a lot of divas out there. Melanie is not one of them. No drama for Melanie, who never makes it all about her. She’s a public servant in the truest sense who cares about what you and I think. She listens and collaborates, including with those who hold different views from her own, to find solutions that most can support. At the same time, she holds strong in the face of opposition when the future good depends on it.

My vote is for Melanie. She is a great county commissioner.

Sue Sell