By Jeff Christopher
When I met Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws in his Bellingham office a month ago, he recalled some cautionary advice that he’d received when he was first sworn into office: “You’ll hear more from Point Roberts than from any other place in the county.” While he may have found those words curious, I saw them as a community badge of honor. If nothing else in my year as chair of the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC), I’ve come to appreciate that our residents – whether American or Canadian – are engaged and engaging, unafraid to challenge the status quo, are skeptical, and practice a level of “Show Me-ism” that would make any Missourian envious. I have also had the pleasure of experiencing the graciousness, courtesy and appreciation of our community.
PRCAC was established to act as a “clearing house” for issues with county government. PRCAC, comprised of representatives from various local groups, was empowered by county ordinance to interact with inquiring residents, address their issues, and seek answers. PRCAC has no decision-making power and merely acts in an advisory capacity.
PRCAC is comprised of five members; three of them designated by these familiar civic organizations: the Point Roberts Registered Voters Association, the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, and the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association. There are also two “at-large” members appointed by the county executive’s office.
During the past year, it has become obvious to me that a significant number of community-minded residents are frustrated by the sense that PRCAC is a closed shop, its membership roster preordained.
When I was just starting out in business, one of my first bosses pointed out that people need to have a say in what’s going on. If people felt they were involved and could have an impact, they would happily contribute and the organization, or in this case, the community would be better off.
In early December, we will attempt a first step toward a completely transparent and, hopefully, fully elected PRCAC.
Help Select the Point Roberts PRCAC At-Large Nominee.
Let’s be clear in that this is not a formal election. It can’t be if we want all of us – Americans and Canadians – to have a say. It is merely our community advising the county executive as to whom our community wants as an at-large member. Unfortunately, Canadians are ineligible to apply due to county ordinance; however, Canadians will be allowed to both question candidates who are being considered, and ultimately, help in the selection process.
On Thursday, December 6 at 7 p.m., PRCAC will host a community townhall at which citizens interested in being considered as an at-large member are invited to make their case. The evening’s proceedings will be subsequently available on YouTube. Through December 16, residents can indicate their support for a nominee via email – bearing their name and local address – sent to our PRCAC comments email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On December 17, the emails will be reviewed, verified and have their nominee preference recorded. Once tallied, I will advise county executive Louws of the results. A copy of the results will be published in all local social-media platforms and in both the print and electronic editions of the All Point Bulletin. Please note that the decision is entirely in the hands of the executive. While he has acknowledged that he will give exceptional weight to our recommendations, the decision is his and his alone. Interested candidates who forgo the townhall process and reach out to Louws directly – as has traditionally be done – will still receive full consideration.
I urge all who wish to make a difference to seriously consider applying. Interested individuals can express their interest via email@example.com. I will be happy to answer any and all questions and provide as much detail and information necessary. All interested persons should prepare background material that will be forwarded to the county executive’s office.
Over the past year, some community members have indicated their frustrations with the PRCAC selection process. A few related their own personal experiences with applying. If those individuals step forward again next month, our community will not only be the richer for their volunteerism, they will be in for an entertaining and informative townhall.
We look forward to hearing from you and, from my family to yours, have the happiest of holidays.