Community advocate, volunteer joins county race

A community outreach coordinator and self-described concerned citizen advocate is the third challenger in the race for Island County Commissioner, Dist. 2 seat.

Democrat Fe Mischo is running for the position currently held by Commissioner Jill Johnson, who is seeking reelection.

“I’ve been on the ground level and I can see where the county can make improvements,” Mischo said. “We lack adequate mental health and behavioral services.”

Mischo and her family have been stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island since 2010. She said she started out volunteering with ECEAP, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, and later was accepted as a parent ambassador for the Washington State Association for Head Start and ECEAP.

Mischo is an advocate for the Save the Children Action Network and advocates for early childhood education on a national level.

She said that 60 percent of Washington residents live in a child care desert, an issue she is hoping to be able to tackle locally.

According to the Center for American Progress, a child care desert is any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.

“Us as a rural county, we’re definitely at risk of that,” Mischo said.

She recommends advocating for state and federal funds and reaching out to employers and schools about providing child care options.

Mischo also suggested establishing a publicly or privately funded community center as a meeting place for youth and families, similar to the one on base.

“As a Navy family, we have access to the Navy center on base,” she said. “But I feel the rest of the community that I work closely with, they’re bored. A lot of the teens don’t have a lot to do here.”

Workforce housing and the connection with homelessness and the housing crisis are other issues of interest to Mischo.

“Just driving around Oak Harbor alone, there are so many empty buildings with utilities set up,” she said.

Mischo also encourages building upwards, rather than expanding out into the rural community.

This could benefit the homeless, an issue near and dear to Mischo who has firsthand experienced homelessness.

“I myself have been homeless, 18 years ago,” she said. “If I did not have services available to me, I do not know where I would be.”

Mischo believes with the right resources and services, it is possible to get out of homelessness, an issue which affects not only Oak Harbor and the surrounding county but also the nation.

“A home is more than just a bed and a shower,” she said. “It’s dignity. It’s having something that belongs to you.”

With a national pandemic still lingering in the background, Mischo encourages continuing to follow safety guidelines.

“I trust in science and I listen to experts and I strongly believe that we need to follow their guidance,” Mischo said.

Republican Jill Johnson, Democrat Chris Reed and Republican Dan Evans are also running for the position.

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