Oak Harbor mayor takes heat from residents
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
July 1, 2011 · Updated 3:33 PM
The Oak Harbor City Council faced a tough crowd Tuesday evening but the ax seemed to fall hardest on Mayor Jim Slowik.
During a public comment period at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, June 28, a handful of constituents took to the microphone to criticize the city council, and Slowik in particular, over a variety of issues.
Frustrations over the SE Pioneer Way Improvement Project, and the recent discovery of bones under the roadway, seemed to reach a boiling point. One woman even asked the mayor to resign.
“You and the council have cost the taxpayers too much and it’s time to cut the losses,” said Colleen Ladwig, a Skagit County resident. “The citizens and business owners have asked me to let you know that we wish you to step down as mayor. If you are unwilling to step down by the end of the month ... we will be considering taking action to remove you from office.”
Ladwig, a former longtime Oak Harbor business owner, did not identify who exactly asked her to relay the request. When later asked to clarify, she decline to name a single person, saying they wished to remain anonymous. She also said she didn’t know what, if any, action might be taken should the mayor refuse her wishes.
While Ladwig’s request for the mayor to resign was based in grievances surrounding the one-way road project, several others approached the podium to voice malcontent over a range of issues.
Oak Harbor resident Shane Hoffmire brought up several sore subjects, from Slowik’s reclamation of an old campaign sign from the front window of a SE Pioneer Way business earlier this year to a separate campaign sign issue that came to boil just last week.
It revolved around a city enforcement officer who told mayoral candidate Scott Dudley that 200 of his campaign signs were out of compliance with an Oak Harbor law. It turns out the law may be unconstitutional.
Hoffmire said any “second-grader” could have spotted the problem with the sign ordinance, and that he was tired of the community looking bad “by individuals who apparently don’t give a darn about the will of the people.”
“Please, on behalf of the great people of Oak Harbor, rectify this situation by repealing this ordinance immediately,” Hoffmire said.
Several other people, including a candidate for a city council position, also voiced concerns and gripes about upcoming city projects as well as the integrity of some city staff.
Seemingly unfazed, Slowik thanked each person for their comments before asking if anyone else would like to speak. In a later interview, he declined to address the comments.
“I think the citizens expect the sitting mayor to discuss the issues and not partake in political hijinks,” Slowik said.
He went on to say that a great many issues are facing Oak Harbor, from completing the SE Pioneer Way project and building a new wastewater sewer treatment plant to improving water quality in the bay. His goal is to avoid election games and focus on legitimate issues.
And for the record, Slowik said he has no plans to resign as mayor. In fact, he said he is hoping for and looking forward to another four years in office.
“No, I’m running for re-election and I’m excited about the future of Oak Harbor,” Slowik said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.