I feel deeply committed to serve as a devoted caretaker of this amazing place known as Island County, and having lived on Whidbey Island and spent the last nine years working intimately with the Board of Island County Commissioners, I wish to continue the forward movement of both sense and compassion established by Helen Price-Johnson and other community leaders.

- Melanie Bacon

Smart Government for Whidbey Island and Camano

How can Island County function efficiently and best serve the taxpayers at the same time?

You can buy your dog clothes, food, toys, and house, all in just a couple of clicks on Amazon or Petsmart.Com. But to get a license you either have to mail the County your paper application and rabies certification, plus a self-addressed-stamped envelope and check for the license fee, or else take time out of your workday to go to an authorized dog licensing location. 

What’s wrong with this picture?

The County must change its customer service culture and service delivery model. For millennia governments have operated under the principle that since we are a monopoly, the only game in town, citizens who don’t like the way we do business can just suck it or pay fines or go to jail. The concept of “customer service” has never been part of government until very recently, as we’ve come to understand we need to change the way we interact with our citizens. 

Everyone today expects choices to be presented to them in an easy-to understand manner, with quick response, helpful service people, and rapid delivery. Amazon has changed the way everyone does business—and now it’s also changed the way we consumers—we citizens—expect to interact with the selection, production, and delivery of our government services. We must improve our in-person customer service, and we need forward-thinking in our adoption of technological service solutions. 

My intention is that one day in the not too distant future, if someone wants a building permit, or a marriage license, or a dog license, or any of the other multitude of permits and licenses people have to get from the County before they can lawfully move forward, the citizen can process those activities online, and in a manner that is sensible and efficient. Webcams will allow them to talk to the permit counter person, or the engineer, or the recording clerk, or whoever they need to interact with, and they can scan any pertinent documents with their home printer or phone and email them. They can pay for the permits online using credit cards or paypal or some other electronic method—and then they’ll receive regular email or text updates on where their permit or license is in the process and the date when they can move forward. 

That’s the goal I've set before I retire from the County—at such time our County government operates as well as the 21st century business model. Then I’ll feel my work is done.

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