County Council Candidate Stephanie O’Day Shares Campaign Themes – Heather Lists Three Women Leaders She Admires

Stephanie O’Day, a land use lawyer and long-term resident of San Juan Island, thinks County government can do more to help residents achieve the American Dream.

She feels the greatest of several crises the County is experiencing is a lack of affordable housing. She feels the lack of affordable housing has contributed to skyrocketing property values here, which has driven property taxes up significantly. She shared that she personally got a reverse mortgage to pay her $26,000 annual property tax bill. She also cited the high ratio of untaxed property in the County as a factor in high taxes.

She added, “We need workforce housing, which is separate from long-term housing.” She said another form of workforce housing is summer housing for workers. At several points in the interview, she sympathized with employers here who cannot hire enough employees.

She thinks the County’s four-day work-week was a mistake, especially because she feels it was made into policy too hastily.

Another priority for O’Day is the need for additional daycare services on San Juan Island. She is encouraged by the fact that Orcas Island “has it dialed in,” so San Juan Island could find a solution, as well. She floated an idea that the County assign a planner to find a roadmap to a solution, which might include private-public partnerships.

She described her style this way: “I’m all about balance. I’m an independent. I try to bring people to the middle and come up with something that’s going to work.”

Regarding Washington State Ferries (WSF), she said, “We don’t get a fair shake. It’s really hurting the people who live here. We need our ferry service to be reliable, and it’s not reliable.”

She criticized the State’s firing of WSF employees who refused vaccines, and Governor Jay Inslee‘s 2018 order that only hybrid electric ferries be built. It is her opinion that the San Juan County Council should go to Olympia and be vocal on WSF issues. She does not expect a class action lawsuit to be filed against WSF/WSDOT due to the high cost of such a lawsuit.

To resolve the current dispute between the Town of Friday Harbor and the County over water usage at the Fairgrounds, O’Day prefers a mediator in a workshop environment.

Summarizing her candidacy, O’Day said, “I am doing this as a personal mission. I want to resolve some issues. And I think that I am the best person to do that because I have a lot of insight into what’s going on.”

The Stephanie O’Day interview portion of this program is 38 minutes in duration.

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