In 2020, Secretary of the Interior, energy industry lobbyist David Bernhardt, reversed his predecssor Zinke and ended a years long process to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades. The Skagit County Commissioners once again joined commissioners in several other counties to oppose implementing the Endangered Species Act. For now, planning to restore the grizzly bear to the North Cascade Ecosystem has been halted.
In 2019, Home Rule Skagit, a local organization working for transparency, accountability, and broader representation in Skagit County government made Public Records Requests to look at particular County records related to the campaign they had conducted in 2018. In response to their first request, the 732 documents received from Skagit County Public Information Officer Cori Russell were almost completely blacked out, sometimes including the dates. In response to a second request, 7.128 gigabytes of information were turned over having little to do with the materials requested. What is going on?
When elected leaders choose to avoid transparency and deny citizen involvement, we need to ask why. An important recent example illustrates this too familiar pattern in Skagit County government. This year, the crucial job of County Administrator was filled without the opportunity for residents to hear from the candidates, learn about them, or share with our County Commissioners ideas about a position that affects us all. We’re once again left with the impression that the Commissioners prefer the people of Skagit County just quietly pay their county taxes and then show no interest in government. Why is the County Administrator position important to all Skagit residents? Read on.