Roy focuses on planning, action

Published on Thu, Aug 23, 2001 by Meg Olson

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Roy focuses on planning, action

By Meg Olson

The Blaine, Birch Bay area hasn’t had a local on county council since Tom Burton stepped off the dais over a decade ago. Sharon Roy thinks its time that changed. “I’ve always said we needed someone from this part of the county on the council,” said the Birch Bay resident, who will face planning commissioner Bob Weisen and Warren Hanson for the district three council position. “It’s just different when someone lives in the area.”

Since returning to her roots in retirement, Roy has immersed herself in community issues, much as she did in school issues before she graduated from Blaine high school as Sharon Gilfillan in 1959. “I was student body secretary, princess of this and that. In a small school you’re involved in everything,” she said.

Apparently the same holds true in small communities for Roy. She is a member of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, Drayton Harbor Maritime, Blaine Friends of the Library and the Birch Bay Steering committee, which is working with county planners on a comprehensive plan for the area. She volunteers at the Mount Baker Theater and monitors local shorelines through the Adopt-a-Beach program and the Coastal Zone Management project. “It snowballs,” Roy said. “ I had no political aspirations. I felt liberated from work and wanted to reintroduce myself to my community.”

It was through her involvement with the county’s League of Women Voters that Roy became interested in the role county council plays. As an observer for the league, she has attended almost every county council meeting since 1999 to report back to the league membership. “I sat there and thought, hey, I can do that,” she said.

Roy’s career in education lasted almost 40 years. Working for Shoreline schools in Seattle, she rose from a special education instructor to become the program manager for the entire district, picking up a few degrees on the way. In a lateral move to increase her contact with students, she became the assistant principal of the high school and ended her career as elementary school principal.

Roy said her career has given her all the tools needed to be a good county legislator, from mediation training to feeling at home with reams of reports. “In special education I was in charge of solving conflicts,” she said. “A lot of those skills carry over. I respect people even if I disagree with them. That’s probably what I do best – listen and try to find common ground.”

Planning for growth will be the number one issue on Roy’s platform. “It’s going to happen, and unless you know how you want your community to look 20 years from now it could easily be like King County here. You can see it coming up I-5” she said. “Having growth where and how you want it, while protecting community character, farmland and natural resources should be our goal.”

Whatcom County also needs to target transportation, Roy said, and make sure infrastructure and services keep up with growth. “The hot issue will be who’s going to pay for it,” she said.

Roy believes in streamlining and clarifying government regulations, but also in improving their enforcement. “Even though we have a comprehensive plan, we don’t follow it,” she said.

She isn’t looking forward to the politics involved in getting a seat on county council, but Roy said she is looking forward to the job. “I want to learn,” she said. “We need to work together as a county and pool our resources,” she said. “In order to accomplish that government should be people representing all people, not just those with advantages. The government should look out for the common good.” .

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