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Slowik leads in campaign contributions in Oak Harbor mayoral race

Campaign contributions. Are they a barometer of public support? A crystal ball into tomorrow’s agenda? Or, in small communities such as Oak Harbor where everyone knows everyone, are they simply the ultimate expression of one friend supporting another?

Whatever the case, the vast majority of those paving the road to power with their pocketbooks this year are doing so for Jim Slowik. The incumbent in the one of the most hotly contested mayor’s races in years, Slowik has amassed $13,828 from some 98 contributors since June.

“I’m humbled by the fact that people have confidence in me,” Slowik said.

Challenger Scott Dudley isn’t far behind, at least in terms of total contributions. Since he filed in March, the Dudley campaign has amassed $10,799. However, it comes from just 41 people, fewer than half the number Slowik contributors. But Dudley is unfazed, saying fundraising hasn’t been the focus of his campaign.

“We were more focused on spreading the message,” Dudley said.

On the Slowik side, an $800 check from Skagit Island Realtors Group’s makes them the mayor’s largest financial backer though Corey Johnson from C Johnson Construction comes in at a close second with a $500 donation.

However, couples and family members who made separate donations have contributed equal or, in one case, greater sums. The mayor’s brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Warangkana Slowik, put in a total of $800, while retired developer Bill Massey and his wife, Kathy, have collectively thrown $500 into the pot. Greg Wasinger and his wife, Linda, also contributed a total of $500. They own an Oak Harbor 7-Eleven store and Greg is a member of the Oak Harbor Planning Commission.

Other top contributing business people include John McMahon of Northrop Grumman Field Support Services, who pitched $250; $200 donations from Tony Bartley of Whidbey Community Physicians and self-employed dentist Gary Berner; $150 from Kristi Leland of Windermere Real Estate; and finally, $100 sums from Michael Horrobin of Oak Harbor Motors, Geri Morgan of Koetje Real Estate,  and both Greg Saar and Christon Skinner of the Law Offices of Skinner & Saar.

According to state Public Disclosure Commission records, the restaurant China City contributed $200 but an individual is not identified.

Slowik also saw financial backing from a host of past and present elected officials. Oak Harbor City Councilman Rick Almberg pitched in $250, Councilman Bob Severns $200 and Councilman Danny Paggao’s wife, Nida, $100. Island County Sheriff Mark Brown contributed $100 and former Oak Harbor Mayor Al Koetje gave $75.

Other community well-knowns who made donations include a $250 check from Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Rick Schulte — he also gave $100 to Dudley — $290 worth of contributions from longtime city resident Donald Boyer, three handouts totaling $600 from Dr. R.O. and Janette Ellis, $100 from retired Navy Admiral Lyle Bull, and $200 from retired pastor David Lura.

As for Dudley, the largest contribution of his campaign was made by Don Howat of Blue Mountain Electric with $600. Harman Patrick, listed under PDC records as retired, pitched $500 as did RMJ N.W. Investment LLC and Ron Wallin of P & L General Contractors Inc. Wallin is also a Whidbey General Hospital commissioner.

Harbor Lands Co. also donated a total of $500 but did so in three separate increments. Other contributing businesses include $250 from Skagit Island Builders PAC, $175 from Anita Anderson – also in increments – and $150 from Edward Johnson, both of whom are with Island Brokers Realty.

Dudley’s campaign manager, Sandi Peterson, also contributed with two checks totaling $370.

The mayoral hopeful also saw financial support from four senior officers with the Oak Harbor Police Department. Detective Sgt. Teri Gardner made three contributions totaling $225, Lt. Tim Sterkel also made three totaling $240, Detective Carl Sein made two totaling $170, and officer Mel Lolmaugh contributed $50.

Past and current elected officials also contributed to Dudley’s campaign. Present Oak Harbor City Councilman Jim Campbell wrote two checks totaling $150 and former Councilman Fred Henniger donated $100.

Finally, Dudley received sums from two political leaders. Robyn Kolaitis, chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Club of North Whidbey, pitched a collective $140 and Brett Wilhelm, chairman of the Island County Republican Party, contributed $100.

The mayor’s race is non-partisan but both candidates are known Republicans. Wilhelm said his donation was not an endorsement; he contributed because he was asked and he wanted to encourage campaigns to seek financial support from the community.

Although Slowik has clearly come out on top when it comes to financial support, both in total contributions and the number of people who donated, it may not prove to be the real muscle in the mayor’s race.

While Slowik has invested in expensive campaign tactics, such as commercials on cable television, Dudley has spent his time aggressively door-belling. By Dudley’s estimate, he’s visited 90 percent of Oak Harbor homes.

“If we were all about fundraising, you would have seen a different campaign,” said Dudley, adding that the numbers would have been more comparable.

He’s also pretty optimistic about election day Nov. 8, claiming that his confidence isn’t just empty bravado but based on the response he’s gotten on door steps.

Dudley’s door-belling campaign has even earned him a nod from Slowik. The mayor said he had to give his competitor credit for his efforts and that he’d be “foolish” to discount the power a personal visit carries with voters. He said he’d have done more of it himself but that he’s been too busy.

“It’s not about money, it’s not about signs, it’s about votes,” Slowik said.

However, while Slowik believes it will be a close race, he also thinks he’ll be the one celebrating with friends on Nov. 8.

 

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