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Palmer is out, Brewer wants Oak Harbor City Council seat

Oak Harbor City Councilman Jim Palmer has announced that he will not be seeking re-election this November and eager to fill his shoes is former councilman Paul Brewer.

Palmer, who was elected in 2007, said he’s enjoyed his term in office but that matters of a personal nature are forcing his decision. Although he declined to explain further, he said it would be difficult for him to give the position the attention it deserves.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I come back to the political arena later on, but right now is just not a good time,” Palmer said.

Although he had a few more weeks to make a decision, Palmer said he decided to do it sooner so that interested candidates would have more time to consider a run for office.

At least one candidate didn’t need the extra time, however. Brewer, a 12-year veteran of the council, said Friday he’s been eyeing Palmer’s seat for weeks and decided to run for the position even before learning of his announcement.

“I was looking at the (person) I thought I could defeat the easiest but now that he’s not running, it should be interesting,” Brewer said.

As a councilman, Brewer relished his self-appointed role as a city watchdog and was instrumental in bringing transparency to the city with videotaped meetings broadcast on TV. He rose to prominence as an opponent of Walmart’s plan to build in the city in the 1990s and advocated for well-planned growth.

He had also considered running for the positions held by Beth Munns and Rick Almberg. Both are up for election this fall. Almberg is seeking another term and has already registered with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission and Munns could not be reached for comment.

Brewer served three full terms on the city council before waging an unsuccessful bid for mayor against Sue Karahalios and Jim Slowik. Karahalios was eliminated in the primary and Slowik claimed the seat with 56.83 percent of the vote in the general election.

Brewer, 65, works as the solid waste manager for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The past four years off were a nice break, but he said he’s eager for another swim in political waters.

He’s got a list of things he wants to accomplish, from seeing the construction of a solid-waste transfer station in Oak Harbor – something he promoted for years during his time as a councilman – to changing the time city council meetings begin.

Currently, they start at 6 p.m. and that’s not enough time, he said, for people to get home from work, change, eat and then make it to the meeting before it begins. For many years, the meeting started at 7 p.m. and it should be changed back to the old format, he said.

Brewer believes new leadership is needed at City Hall and is a supporter of City Councilman Scott Dudley. Dudley has cast his hat into the ring for mayor, while Slowik has yet to confirm whether or not he will seek re-election.

Brewers said he was against a one-way configuration for SE Pioneer Way and has questions about the project’s expense.

Brewer said he believes his experience in office and working in government are his greatest strength. Known for getting a little hot around collar at times, Brewer acknowledged that he can be passionate about certain issues. However, he doesn’t see it as a weakness or obstacle for re-election.

“You gotta stick to your guns if you believe in something,” Brewer said.

Reflecting on the past three and a half years, Palmer said he was most proud of his efforts to keep the city financially solvent. Like cites, counties, and states across the nation, Oak Harbor was struggling to stay in the black during the recession.

Palmer said he was also happy about his support of the one-way downtown project. While its ultimate success will hinge on the efforts of property owners and merchants, Palmer said he feels he’s done his part to revitalize the area.

The official filing period for all offices in the general election is June 6 to June 10. Once candidates publicly announce, they have two weeks to register with the public disclosure commission.

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