Update on 2019 Election

The election for the one expiring term on the Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) began with the nomination of two candidates, John Hopkins and Steve Orsini, at the GIFC’s Annual Meeting on February 10, 2019.  Registered voters in the Guemes precinct are entitled to vote in the election.

The GIFC contracted with a company to distribute the ballots by mail and provided it with a list of eligible voters obtained from the Skagit County Auditor.  The ballots were to be mailed on March 1, 2019.

By March 13 less than ten ballots had been returned.  After investigating, the GIFC concluded that for reasons it could not pin down, the mailout of the ballots failed. 

Consequently, the GIFC has determined to undertake a second ballot mailing and to invalidate any ballots that may come in from the first mailing.  The ballots from the first printing used white paper.  The second round was done on green paper to clearly indicate that the ballot is from the second printing   

The new ballots were delivered to the United States Postal Service today, March 15, 2019.  These green ballots are now the only valid ballots for this election.  Any voter who received and voted using the original white paper ballot must vote again using the green ballot to have their vote count.  The committee has concluded that this is the best process available given the situation.

New deadlines have been set for returning ballots in the election.  Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before March 30, 2019.  Ballots may be cast in person by using the official ballot box at the Guemes Island Library before March 31, 2019.  Note: in person voters are asked to  please use the ballot box provided inside the library during library hours, and to not use the book return bin as a substitute.

The committee looks forward to your participation, and thanks you for your patience and for taking the time to vote.

Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Guemes Island Ferry Committee Election 2019

The Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) has been in existence on Guemes Island for many decades. By charter, the advisory committee’s mission is to facilitate communications and resolve issues among the ferry users, Skagit County Public Works, and the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, focusing on: maintaining safe, courteous, reliable service that consistently meets its schedule; well-maintained facilities; an equitable fare structure; and prompt, adequate emergency services. The GIFC meets monthly to conduct business at regularly scheduled meetings and hosts quarterly island-wide meetings to inform islanders about ferry matters. The committee also meets with Skagit County Public Works staff. All meetings are open to the public.

There are five positions on the GIFC; the three-year terms are staggered. Candidates are nominated at the GIFC annual meeting. When there are multiple candidates for a position, a printed ballot must be distributed to all registered voters in the Guemes precinct. 

Additional information about the candidates can be found below. The GIFC requests that you take the time to inform yourself about the candidates and issues, and most important of all, return your ballot so your voice can be heard. Here is an introduction of the two candidates who are running for one open position on the Guemes Island Ferry Committee. 


Stephen Orsini

Professional  Summary: Extensive marine experience including commercial salmon fishing, and sales and delivery of large commercial fishing vessels.  Worked for ABB in the sales of marine equipment including main steam turbine engines for large ships, cargo deck cranes and propulsion torque meters.  30 years experience in three multinational corporations in the sales of complex power generation equipment systems.    Management experience included Vice President of Marketing for ABB Industrial Steam Turbines world-wide. 

Guemes History: I grew up on Guemes (1954) and attended the Guemes Island Elementary School.  I returned with my family to live full time on Guemes in 1989.  I have ridden the 6 car Guemes, the 9 car Almar and the current 22 car Guemes. 

Ferry Committee: I have served on the Ferry Committee for 25 years and am currently its Chair.  I support the Ferry Committee Charter and its concept that the Committee represents the ferry ridership.   My length of service provides a recognized “corporate knowledge” valuable to the County and the ridership.

I support the concept of an affordable plug-in-hybrid ferry.   As we have a single vessel system, the demand on reliability is critically high.  I am greatly relieved to learn that two of the three County Commissioners voted on February 26 for a 28 car vessel saving $2.8 million on the price and up to 50% on the operations of the vessel.  Our system still needs to establish the Level of Service prior to this design phase.   We must continue to work toward a modern ticketing system.  Increasing the number of runs is the most cost-effective method of reducing line wait times.   I will continue to request that we add runs during high demand periods with the current Guemes.

Thank you and I would appreciate your vote. Steve answers more questions


John Hopkins

      I've lived full-time on Guemes Island for thirteen years on West Shore Road with my wife, Julie. She and I met in Peru while serving in the Peace Corps. I first rode the ferry to Guemes in 1966 when I came out to marry Julie (McClung). We then visited Julie's family here regularly. I am an agricultural economist, by training and experience. I was a Foreign Service officer and Far East Trade Policy Director with the US Department of Agriculture, and I have worked on various committees and task forces solving complicated issues.

     We currently face the challenge of replacing our ferry. I think the Ferry Committee should be as constructive as possible in this process and assist the county in obtaining outside funds. Over the past years, I have attended numerous ferry and county meetings. I think our dialogue and working relationship with the county and within the committee need to improve. The Ferry Committee's role is advisory, and I think the committee could increase its influence if it adopted a more collaborative approach. There is never going to be 100 percent agreement on any issue. I think one of the committee's missions should be to clearly communicate and explain islanders' differing points of view to the county, to provide accurate feedback to islanders, and operate transparently.

    I favor a new ferry. An electric ferry with a generator on board is my preference. I think a 28-car ferry would be more economical, be more likely to handle the current schedule, and would provide some relief to our long lines, but I am open to different views. I think our goal should be a reliable, cost-effective ferry that is as environmentally friendly as possible and will provide service for the next 40-plus years. John answers more questions


Recent Correspondence

  To Guemes Islanders: In July, 2018, Skagit County Public Works submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)...
Date:  April 28, 2018 To:  The Skagit County Board of Commissioners Re:  Guemes Island Ferry Replacement Project The Guemes Island...
Guemes Island Ferry Committee Allen Bush, Jr.  Steve Orsini (Chr.)   Carl Ullman  Sandy McKean    March 3, 2018 Dan...

Recent Meeting Notes