The following is a verbatim response I sent to a proponent of the 5 commissioner proposal who has criticized my approach. After that is a bit more explanation.
"I have your input, thank you for that. I am now seeking legal advice from an independent third party that represents neither you nor the port. This way I can be assured that the reading of the statute and the language of the question are both simple and clear. I want no part of an ambiguous effort. Simple, clear, legitimate and defensible - that is my goal. You asked for my leadership and you are getting it, what you won't get is your own special voice to do what you want. I take it very seriously that I represent the people of Whatcom County and to that end I will work for the greatest good for the majority. Again, you have asked for my leadership on proposing 5 commissioners and you will get my honest, hardworking effort as promised." (end of quote)
I will be bringing the correct resolution regarding a five commissioner proposal to our June 19th Port meeting. Given Mr. Jorgensen's own proposal at our last meeting, I believe the measure will pass and go on to the November ballot.
The resolution will ask for a five member commission with seats distributed among five new districts. With five districts I believe a clear message will be sent to the entire county that the Port of Bellingham represents the ENTIRE county and if the measure passes then we will ensure an equitable distribution of commissioners.
Those five districts should be apportioned equally and randomly by population ONLY, with no regard whatsoever to gerrymandering that can favor any particular viewpoint - especially since the purpose of 2 extra commissioners is to improve representation not create political stalemates, that would be ridiculous and should be avoided at all costs. The districts would have district only primaries as now, with county wide runs for each district's top two out of the primary.
In the coming week I will be working with independent legal counsel while simultaneously researching the effort that 4 other ports used to increase or attempt an increase to five commissioners. It is important to me that the legal vetting of the resolution be done carefully by people skilled in interpreting law.
Combined with the Port's legal staff opinion, we will have 6 legal opinions and/or precedents to guide the process. These 6 examples will inform the work in bringing a proper resolution to my fellow commissioners on the 19th. We will propose a properly worded ballot question that can survive a legal challenge if the measure passes in November; here in Washington we are all aware that badly worded ballot initiatives can be thrown out after an election.
It is no secret that I believe the push for five commissioners is a knee jerk reaction to some bone-headed decisions by your current commission, of which I am a member. However, it is not my place to decide for the citizens of this county how their governments will be structured, therefore, I have worked with the proponents to bring the question to the November ballot this year, 2012, for a vote by the people.
Regardless, new voices, experience and viewpoints will certainly inform the guidance of the Port of Bellingham so that it can continue to serve and succeed for the the people of Whatcom County. I have spent the past two and a half years working toward that end and hope to go on serving and working for the people of this county for some time to come.
Thank you to all who have read this post. I think it explains my position and that I am moving carefully to ensure the effort is above reproach. You may have your own opinion so please weigh in, let me know what you are thinking.