Two vie for Oak Harbor City Council seat

Mark Wiggins, above, joined Paul Brewer this week in a race to fill the Oak Harbor City Council seat currently held Jim Palmer. - Submitted photo
Mark Wiggins, above, joined Paul Brewer this week in a race to fill the Oak Harbor City Council seat currently held Jim Palmer.
— image credit: Submitted photo

The first race for an Oak Harbor City Council seat began Wednesday.

Mark Wiggins, a former planning commission member, announced that he will make a bid in the November general election to fill the seat being vacated by Jim Palmer. He joins Paul Brewer, a former city councilman, who announced his intention to seek the same position late last week.

Palmer is nearing the end of his first four-year term and decided not to run for re-election for personal reasons.

Wiggins, 53, said he was prepared to support Palmer had he sought a second term but decided to throw his own hat into the ring only after learning of the councilman's decision not to run last week.

"I decided what the heck, I'll take the plunge," Wiggins said.

Wiggins was born in Burlington and migrated to Oak Harbor in 1959 with his parents. Married with four children, he currently works as the CEO of Whidbey Island Manor, a business his parents started in 1963.

Although Wiggins has never sought an elected office, he's been involved in public service for more than 25 years. Beginning in the early 1980s, he served terms on the city's park board and the board of adjustment before spending more than 15 years on the Oak Harbor Planning Commission.

Wiggins said he was happy serving on the advisory group and was surprised when Mayor Jim Slowik declined to appoint him to another term earlier this year for what he claims were "political reasons." In a brief exit interview, Wiggins said Slowik told him that the city was going in a different direction and that he wasn't part of those plans.

"I was canned from a volunteer job; that doesn't happen everyday," Wiggins said with a laugh.

Despite the negative experience, he said he isn't harboring a grudge and that it had no bearing on his decision to run for office. However, he admits he did briefly consider a bid for the mayor's seat, which is also up for grabs in November.

City Councilman Scott Dudley is the only one who has confirmed his intention to run for the position. Rumors persist that Slowik is planning to seek a second term but he has yet to make any formal public announcement.

Although Brewer confirmed that he is casting his support behind Dudley, Wiggins would make no such commitment, saying that he was "neutral" at this time. However, he did say he had some concerns with "both camps."

For example, while he doesn't care for Dudley's apparent "negativity on everything," Wiggins questions whether it was appropriate to move forward with the $8.35 million SE Pioneer Way Improvement Project during a recession.

Wiggins did not have any comment about Brewer and plans to wage a clean campaign. Wiggins believes himself to be the better man for the job due to his past experience on service boards, in the business world, and for his general love for the community.

The council positions held by Rick Almberg and Beth Munns are also up for election. Almberg announced in April and multiple phone messages left for Munns Wednesday were not returned.

The official filing period for all offices in the general election is June 6 to 10 at the Island County Auditor's Office. Once candidates publicly announce, they have two weeks to register with the Public Disclosure Commission.

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