Skagit County Residents Discuss the Pros and Cons of Change

In Common Voices, Local Government, News by commonnw

As Reported by, Gary Hagland, Skagit County Chapter of CAPR-

The folks who are never happy about anything, the left and especially their radical environmentalist contingent, are determined to change our system of county government.  Why? Because the commissioners wouldn’t play ball according to their wishes.  Frustrated by the county’s opposition to trans locating grizzlies into the North Cascades, employing a DC lobbyist that doesn’t push the green agenda, agreeing to the upgrade at the Andeavor refinery among other things, they decided that they would go the charter route.  That way, they figure they can control the political landscape of Skagit County and rid themselves of the irritating elected representatives now in office

In his original letter published June 17 in the Skagit Valley Herald, Gary Hagland argues that when “counties switch to a charter system, the cost of government rises dramatically as does the size of its bureaucracy.”

In a response by Eric Hall published June 27, Eric challenged Gary’s point about the cost of government rising dramatically, noting that “according to the Municipal Research and Services Center (, taxes that support our county government can’t go up more than 1 percent without a vote of those taxed.”

Gary’s letter responding to the letter from Eric Hall  appears in the June 27 edition of the Skagit Valley Herald. In it Hagland says Hall’s argument does not hold up when you consider that counties with much larger populations than ours retain the commissioner system. “I think you can make a convincing case that they are managed as well or better than King, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties.” Hagland adds that Skagit citizens appear to be happy with the current system.

June 17th, 2018 Editorial by Gary Hagland

Perhaps not too many people are aware of this, but some folks who lean quite a bit to the left politically are attempting to garner signatures to put a measure on the fall ballot that would fundamentally change the structure of Skagit County government.
Why? Because they didn’t get their way on several matters that our county commissioners either ruled on or didn’t follow the green agenda. So, they want Skagit to become a charter county, which would give them more than a good chance of controlling policy and rule making.
In other words, the effort to transition to a charter county is an attempt at a power grab.

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June 27, 2018 Editorial response by Eric Hall
In a recent letter opposed to the county charter process, the writer appeared to have a good grasp of most of the facts, except the part about cost. To say that cost will increase as a direct result is not quite correct.
According to the Municipal Research and Services Center (, taxes that support our county government can’t go up more than 1 percent without a vote of those taxed. This is the case no matter the type of government we elect to have.
It is true that only seven out of the 39 counties in the state have been through the charter process. However these seven counties constitute 61 percent of the state’s population. Skagit County is the state’s 11th most populated county. Those who oppose often ignore this perspective.

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June 27, 2018 Editorial response by Hagland to Hall

The responding letter to my own opposing Skagit transitioning to a charter county didn’t address my points — that charter counties result in bloated and more expensive government, that the proponents of becoming a charter county are really interested in gaining power to push their radical green agenda and that rural residents will lose much of their voice in local government, which is primarily designed to serve the county’s unincorporated areas.
Cities and towns have their own mayors and councils. The respondent’s main point seemed to be that Skagit had reached a population tipping point that only a charter structure with more decision makers in the governing body plus a county manager can adequately govern the county.

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