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Slowik’s lead grows in mayor’s race

It looks like Jim Slowik and Paul Brewer will slug it out in the general election to see who will be the next mayor of Oak Harbor.

Voting trends held in a second count of ballots Thursday afternoon, with 7,229 ballots counted so far. That’s an impressive 45 percent of the 16,114 mail-in ballots sent out by the Island County Auditor’s Office in the primary election.

Slowik has a healthy lead over his opponents, with 1,529 votes. That’s nearly 43 percent of the ballots cast. Brewer has 1,110 votes, or 31 percent. Sue Karahalios fell behind with 954 votes, or about 27 percent.

Not all the ballots have been counted, but it looks inevitable that Karahalios will be eliminated.

Friday, Slowik said he was grateful for the support from the community. He theorized that he won so many votes because people want to see new faces in City Hall. Slowik is new to city politics, though he’s deeply involved in the community and used to be on the school board.

“I think they did listen to our message and I think they want a change in leadership in local government,” he said. “I represent a change. That’s the first thing we said and we said it consistently throughout.”

After all, Jim Palmer, another newcomer to city politics, won handily over his competition in the primary vote.

In an interview Friday, Brewer came out swinging. He accused Slowik of co-opting his issues, of being inexperienced and of being a quitter. Most of all, he criticized Slowik for being supported by “the wealthy who’s who of Oak Harbor.”

“It’s going to be a tough battle,” Brewer said. “It’s David versus Goliath.”

Brewer said he wasn’t surprised by the vote count, but he feels he still has a very good shot at winning in the general election.

“I’m going to work hard to get people who didn’t vote and people in the Karahalios camp,” he said.

Karahalios, however, is bowing out of the race gracefully and doesn’t plan on endorsing anyone.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate. The voters are smart enough and wise enough to make their own decisions,” she said.

Karahalios, a city councilwoman, admits she was disappointed in the results, but that she respects the voters. On a personal level, she said being out of the race may be good for her, giving her more time to spend with her family, her mediation business and her stone sculpting hobby. She said she’ll continue working hard on the City Council until her terms ends at the end of the year.

“I’m proud of what we did,” she said. “We brought up some important issues and some ways to accomplish things.”

In the city council race, Palmer is dominating in the vote count with 1,701 votes, which is 49 percent of the ballots cast. Bob Morrison has 1,179 votes or 34 percent and Clairann Haney earned 589 votes, which is 17 percent of the total.

Palmer credited his work ethic for his strong support among voters.

“People who know me know that I’m a hard worker and will go in and take this seriously,” he said. He added that it helped that he knocked on a lot of doors and spoke to people about the issues.

In an echo of Slowik, Palmer also said voters simply want “a fresh set of eyes.”

In the race for an Oak Harbor School Board position, David Sherman dominated his two competitors by earning nearly 54 percent of the vote, which is 3,414 ballots cast in his favor. Bill Burnett has 1,543 votes or 24 percent. Frank Pulu has 1,390 votes, which is about 22 percent.

But even with his big advantage, Sherman said he’ll continue campaigning and talking about the issues.

“Mostly I’m looking forward to this next group of forums,” he said.

In Coupeville, incumbent Town Councilman Bob Clay earned the most votes with 227 ballots cast in his favor, which is 41 percent. Gary Piazzon has 182 votes, or 33 percent, while Sue Cunningham has 144 votes or 26 percent.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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