John Leaver and Bill Stokes complete city council terms – La Conner Weekly News


The people have spoken, but the final say in La Conner’s 2021 election rests with board members Bill Stokes and John Leaver, whose terms expire at the end of the year.

Voters did not send them back to the council table, instead choosing challengers Rick Dole and Ivan Carlson, III in November in campaigns emphasizing public and road safety, law enforcement, housing, protecting open public spaces and maintaining La Conner’s coveted quality of life. .
Stokes and Leaver – along with longtime board member Jacques Brunisholz, who resigned in August – receive kudos for standing in the public arena during a transformative period in La Conner’s history.

“Each of them has a long term in public service,” Mayor Ramon Hayes told The Weekly News. “And whether or not you voted for a particular person, we should be grateful to those who have stepped up to serve.”

In Leaver’s case, he hopes to continue serving – as a member of the planning committee, which Stokes chaired from 2007 to 2013, when the latter was appointed to the board.

“I applied to join the planning committee,” Leaver confirmed to The Weekly News, “but I haven’t heard anything yet.”

Leaver was appointed to the board in 2012 and was very successful early on in promoting the twinning of La Conner and White Rock, BC, as sister cities.

“But,” he admitted, “he needs to be rejuvenated.”

Leaver cited the city’s action to ban the use of plastic bags here as an important development during his tenure on council, given the city’s location on the Swinomish Canal and proximity to Skagit Bay. , examples of saltwater environments damaged by plastic blowing.

Leaver also expressed gratitude for being able to build momentum for the ‘First on First’ community campaign to help businesses in La Conner bounce back from the setbacks suffered as a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown in 2020. .

He was also a spokesperson for La Conner’s annual Arts Alive event and was an enthusiastic advocate for the arts in general.

Leaver made La Conner a regional site for classic and vintage car shows and, along with Dole, promoted the most recent edition of the New Years Polar Plunge on the Swinomish Channel.

However, he left the board with a touch of disappointment.

“What has been most disappointing,” said Leaver, “is (my) inability to convince council and the city to seek improved, less expensive policing in 2013 and again in 2021.”

But Leaver won’t let that deter him, even when he’s no longer in office, from continuing the initiatives he supports.

“I will bring innovative ideas to the City through council or other means,” he promised.

As for Stokes, who has often shown great passion when crucial matters were discussed in council, he chooses to let his case – and others – do the talking now.

“My husband is the opposite of an advertising dog,” said Stokes’ wife Sandy, former co-owner of The Weekly News. “There’s just no way Bill could promote himself.”

His impact, however, is expressed through the many political directives and infrastructure upgrades carried out during his tenure.

Along with his colleagues and Hayes, Stokes’ counseling service witnessed:
* Construction of the popular La Conner waterfront promenade;
* Development of Conner Waterfront Park and Pioneer Park Upland Footpaths;
* Construction of the La Conner skate park;
* Rainbow bridge lighting;
* Major improvements for stormwater drainage in town;
* Finalized a new five-year contract with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, an issue that has found Stokes and Leaver on opposing sides.

Stokes was also proud to have helped draft a six-year La Conner transportation improvement plan.

He has also been hailed as a strong advocate for city workers.

Even at the end of his tenure, following the last town hall meeting in 2021, Stokes continued to lead by example. Christmas day, too.

He and his grandson Kane Stokes spent part of the vacation at the town wharf to help save a sailboat from sinking after it was submerged in stormwater. Bill Stokes got a pump from Peter and Jason Hubl and started pumping water out of the boat. He then contacted the city’s director of public works, Brian Lease, who arrived with a bigger pump.

The boat was stabilized and Stokes, Peter Hubl and Town employees have since monitored the boat on a daily basis.

Hayes is not surprised.

“I can’t say enough about how I admire their engagement,” he said of Stokes, Leaver and Brunisholz. “Sitting on the board is a big responsibility and the thing about each of them is that they always took the time to study the issues. ”


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