Ballots are in. VOTE:

There are two ballot choices now for you. Let’s look at them.

Proposition 1: This small tax will go to help get the most needy in our county into permanent housing. We know we are in crisis in low income housing, watching for a couple of years now as the small amount of available long term rentals have been converted into AirB&B luxury rentals. Low income people have been driven out of Port Townsend as have young couples. This proposition will not radically change or fix this, but will allow, in a few years, for the county to help builders decide to build some new housing for this group of people. It has worked in Bellingham, Portland and elsewhere.

Having housing was identified in our Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Many studies have shown that people in permanent housing are healthier than those who have the stress of not knowing where they are going to be living, or being driven out of their home town because it’s becoming too expensive for them to live.

I am not happy that the supporters of Prop 1 decided, in this year of property tax increases to put this on the ballot, but it is what it is.

Let’s do this. Vote Yes.

Hospital District Commissioner: Cheri Van Hoover

I have been a supporter of Cheri’s since day one. She is eminently qualified. While her opponent is a fine man, I don’t buy the argument that we somehow “need” a businessman in this role. We never have had a businessman in the role, and it seems we’ve done fine. We might as well have said the same thing when Marie Dressler and Jill Buhler were elected, but it appears that, despite their lack of business experience, they have been considered successful at their role. What we need is a person with the skills in knowing how healthcare works and what healthcare policy is all about. That’s Cheri.

What has been more disheartening has been to see the levels at which Bruce’s supporters are willing to go to attack Cheri. There have been a series of lies told, including within the medical society and elsewhere, that she is somehow the stooge of Commissioner Kees Kolff, that Kees wants to put our hospital in financial risk, and that the two of them are out to oust CEO Mike Glenn.  Let’s be clear, that is a sexist charge at it’s core. Sexist because it belittles her experience and ties her to a man whom she barely has ever even worked with. And it’s untrue. While Commissioner Kolff is happy with Cheri’s qualifications, he did not put her up to running. That was done in an effort to recruit more qualified women candidates by County Commissioner Kate Dean.  And secondly, having watched Kees Kolff work for the last few years at this job, I really don’t understand the level of vehemence being shown against him, particularly by outgoing commissioner Tony DeLeo, Marie Dressler and Jill Buhler.  Having listened to their angry tirades against Kees, it reminds me of high school more than a mature adult discussion. And I have never heard Kees sink to their levels.

Lastly, if you need more fuel to make up your decision, in the last month, the supporters of Proposition 1 brought their arguments to the Hospital Commissioners to ask for their support. Marie, Jill and Tony all voted not to support this, saying it was too ‘controversial’.  What they failed to take into consideration, is that the hospital administration staff had been part of the team that wrote into the CHIP that low income housing was a health issue. That after supporting the CHIP that these commissioners have so little courage as to not stand up and say to the county that we need this, our hospital staff have identified it as a community need, and while we know it’s controversial, we would like to endorse it, is cowardice in the extreme. These people want to see Cheri’s opponent join them. That alone is enough for me to vote for Cheri.

The Hospital Commission has been a refuge for the well heeled of this community to go and do very little, other than spend huge sums of money hiring the CEO ($80k for a search firm), rubber stamping the administration demands, and doing little of consequence to help promote greater healthcare in the community at large. The election of Matt Ready a few years ago shook this cozy relationship up (and I am not a supporter of Mr. Ready, I don’t feel he has been effective at all), and Kees Kolff’s election really shook them up, because it brought the “outsiders” to within one vote of being able to drive a new and more progressive agenda of community health policy onto the board. Kees has done an outstanding job of trying ever so gently to move the needle, but has found angry resistance from Tony and Marie in particular.

Now these three have gone out and found a candidate that fits their ‘go along get along’ point of view, while Cheri has shown up and put her long resume in front of the county voters to show that she is committed to women’s health and seeing that we do more to achieve the goals of the CHIP, beyond the hospital itself. For that, she has endured personal attacks from even the insular medical society here, based on misinformation that Dr. Erickson presented to them, either purposely or by a lack of background checking the information that was presented to him.

Whatever the outcome, this nasty backstabbing election politics has altered this community. Rather than debate the facts,the perceived need to drag rumor, fear and misinformation into this has been simply a sad fact of life after Trump. After interviewing both candidates, I don’t think there is any need to demonize either of them. The hospital will continue on just fine, as long as Medicaid and Medicare aren’t slashed. And if they are, we need strong advocates, who are going to take our issues to the state capital and perhaps beyond to save our hospital. I trust Cheri to help in that role. It’s a matter of direction and advocacy that is at the heart of this election choice.  The reality is that the hospital commissioners have voted unanimously for almost all votes of significance. They ultimately have agreed upon the direction that Mike Glenn is leading the hospital. But the wounds that McComas’ supporters have inflicted on civic debate won’t soon be forgotten.

Vote for healthcare policy experience. Vote for Cheri Van Hoover.

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