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Oak Harbor council picks new member in 4-2 vote

City Clerk Connie Wheeler swears in Joel Servatius moments after his appointment to Position 5 on the Oak Harbor City Council Tuesday at City Hall.  - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
City Clerk Connie Wheeler swears in Joel Servatius moments after his appointment to Position 5 on the Oak Harbor City Council Tuesday at City Hall.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Joel Servatius has been selected as Oak Harbor's newest city councilman.

Servatius was appointed in a 4-2 vote at City Hall Tuesday to fill Position 5, the seat occupied by Scott Dudley before he was elected mayor. Dudley had served two years of a four-year term.

"I'm excited and looking forward to the challenge," Servatius said, following his appointment.

The owner and branch manager of Transamerica Financial Advisors Inc. in Oak Harbor, Servatius holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from the University of Puget Sound and has been a member of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce board since 2001.

The 40-year-old father of three is also the current president and a coach of the Whidbey Wildcat Wrestling Club and a volunteer at the Oak Harbor Elementary School, according to his resume.

The process to fill Position 5 began in early January and Servatius was appointed from a pool of 10 candidates. He was among the four finalists who were selected earlier this month and then publicly interviewed Tuesday evening.

The other finalists included Richard Devlin, James Reynolds and Jeff Wallin. The men were asked a series of questions, which ranged from their views on budget reserves to their long-range election plans.

Of the four, Servatius and Wallin emerged as the council's top two picks. The strengths of both candidates were discussed at length. Servatius' financial background, leadership skills and community involvement were praised as was Wallin's expertise in the construction business, long volunteer history and community roots.

The council members repeatedly remarked that both candidates were well qualified for the position. Councilman Bob Severns said it was one of the hardest decisions he's had to make as an elected official and Councilwoman Beth Munns was so undecided that she was the last to make up her mind and became the deciding vote.

"It's tough," Munns said. "This is really a tough decision."

In the end, Servatius earned the support of Munns, Severns, and council members Danny Paggao and Jim Campbell while Wallin received votes from council members Rick Almberg and Tara Hizon.

Servatius was immediately sworn in by city Clerk Connie Wheeler and took his seat at the council bench for the remainder of the meeting.

In a later interview, Servatius said he applied for the position because he and his family are in Oak Harbor for the long term. He said he is eager to begin serving the community as it's newest councilman.

"I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet," Servatius said.

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