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Oak Harbor mayor's old city council seat up for grabs

Political rival Paul Brewer congratulates newly elected Oak Harbor City Councilwoman Tara Hizon moments after she and other elected officials were ceremonially sworn in at City Hall Tuesday.   - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Political rival Paul Brewer congratulates newly elected Oak Harbor City Councilwoman Tara Hizon moments after she and other elected officials were ceremonially sworn in at City Hall Tuesday.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

With newly elected Mayor Scott Dudley now officially at the helm in Oak Harbor, a search has begun to find and appoint his replacement on the city council.

The process to fill Position 5 was hammered out Tuesday at the body’s first meeting of the year.

Resumes are now being accepted and the group is hoping to make its selection by late February.

Interested candidates must be registered to vote in Island County and have lived inside Oak Harbor city limits for at least one year. Application packets can be found online at www.oakharbor.org or at City Hall and must be returned no later than 5 p.m., Jan. 20.

The appointment process was discussed following the ceremonial swearing in of Dudley and City Council members Beth Munns and Tara Hizon. All three, along with City Councilman Rick Almberg, officially took their oaths of office in late December, but this time it was done publicly amidst a large crowd of family and friends.

Almberg was not present Tuesday as he was away on a previously excused absence.

According to City Administrator Paul Schmidt, state law provides Oak Harbor elected officials three months to appoint a replacement to serve out the last two years of Dudley’s four-year term.

While that should be plenty of time, Schmidt said Tuesday that there could be consequences if the deadline is not met.

“The hook is if you don’t select someone in 90 days, the county commissioners will do it for you,” he said.

Following the Jan. 20 submission deadline, candidate resumes will be reviewed by the entire city council at one or two special meetings until a shortlist of about four finalists is established. The meetings will be open to the public.

The finalists will be announced Feb. 7 and then be openly interviewed Feb. 21. A decision is expected to be made and announced the same evening.

So far, only three people have confirmed they will be submitting resumes. They include former city councilman Larry Eaton, downtown merchant Ron Apgar and electronics contractor Cecil Pierce.

Political hopeful Mel Vance, former city councilman Paul Brewer and small business owner Jeff Trumbore are also considering submissions but all said this week they had not yet to decided.

Whoever is selected, the appointment process is nearly identical to the one used to choose Councilman Bob Severns in 2008. He filled the seat vacated by Sheilah Crider.

The only difference between the process now and then is that instead of the initial candidate list being whittled down by the full city council, it was previously done by a standing committee chosen by the mayor.

The city council did consider that option Tuesday, along with a third alternative that would have allowed the group to appoint its own committee to develop the shortlist. The issue saw some debate but making the decision  collectively got the most support.

“I think this is an opportunity for all of us,” councilman Severns said.

 

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