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November 8th, 2011
Voters Return to Strong Mayor in 1981
It was 30 years ago this week that Anacortes residents abandoned a council-mayor form of municipal government in order to return to a strong mayor (full-time, no manager) system. The election took place November 4, 1981, when I was a reporter at the Skagit Valley Herald. Part of my regular coffee group these days is Don Coughlin, active in 1981 as part of the “People’s Choice” group that led the campaign to return to a strong mayor system. “I never doubted it would turn out this way,” said Coughlin at the time. “What we have to understand is, this is the people of Anacortes talking.” The vote that upset the council-manager system was 1,712 to 1,360. First elected mayor after that decision was Jim Rice. He was followed by Doyle Geer, who was followed by present mayor Dean Maxwell.
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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