News

Slowik amasses money in mayor’s race

The election season is just getting started and one candidate for mayor of Oak Harbor may have already raised an unprecedented amount of money for the race.

Jim Slowik, a former school board member, has already received more than $15,000 in contributions. By comparison, Mayor Patty Cohen raised just over $13,000 in her entire campaign four years ago and she was far ahead of her competition.

The money race is on, with the Oak Harbor mayor and three council positions in this year’s election. Two of those races will be in the Aug. 21 primary. Mail-in ballots will be out in just three weeks in the all-mail election, so many of the candidates are rushing to raise money and put up yard signs.

Judging from the early record of contributions, it looks like there will be a wide margin separating those who raise a lot of money, those who raise a little and those who choose to accept nothing at all.

One of Slowik’s challengers in the election, Councilwoman Sue Karahalios, has raised $2,225, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Half of her 22 contributors are from outside of Oak Harbor.

Karahalios said the money totals don’t mean much and probably won’t have much effect.

“You need some money for coverage, but you don’t need to go overboard,” she said. “Money isn’t going to win a campaign. It’s about one-on-one relationships.”

Karahalios, a former Democratic state representative, pointed out that she won a legislative race with less money than her competition.

Slowik’s other challenger, Councilman Paul Brewer, said he isn’t asking for money and may not accept anything at all. He prides himself on being “a different kind of candidate” who represents those who are neither rich nor powerful.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “I don’t want to be indebted to anyone.”

Slowik’s long list of donors reads like a “Who’s Who” catalog of Oak Harbor. Mayor Cohen and her husband both contributed $125 to Slowik and have endorsed him, Slowik said.

The Cohens also have contributed to Rick Almberg and Jim Palmer, who are running for separate council seats.

Among those contributing to Slowik’s campaign include former city councilman Richard Davis, former mayor Al Koetje, Sheriff Mark Brown, former Rep. Barry Sehlin, former Rep. Barney Beeksma, local developer Bill Massey, retired car salesman Don Boyer, retired Rear Admiral Lyle Bull, school board member Vickie Harring, former Oak Harbor High School principal Dick Devlin, and the Law Offices of Skinner and Saar.

Karahalios, however, pointed out that a large number of those who gave money to Slowik are fellow members of Rotary.

Slowik said he raised virtually all of the money by sending out a letter to 485 residents.

“I am humbled and very gratified by the amount people have contributed to my campaign,” he said. “I feel like I have a mandate to really try hard and win.”

In the other primary contest, business appraiser / counselor Palmer has raised $4,000 from a long list of Oak Harbor residents and was the first candidate to put up signs. He’s received money from former mayor Koetje, attorney Chris Skinner, Sheriff Brown, former councilman Davis, former councilman Mike Milat, retired Rear Admiral Bull and contractor Karl Krieg.

Palmer’s two challengers, former councilman Bob Morrison and former council candidate Clairann Haney, say they aren’t worried about money.

Morrison said he hasn’t asked for any money yet and he definitely won’t raise more than $1,000. He said he just doesn’t need it because he still has all the signs from when he ran for the position — and won — eight years ago.

Also, Morrison said he doesn’t need to spend as much on advertising, as compared to his competition, because he has better name recognition. He was a councilman and then ran for mayor, unsuccessfully, against Cohen four years ago.

“I have strong support, a strong voting block,” he said.

Haney said it just doesn’t make sense to ask folks for money, so she’s not going to do it. She said she even turned down money.

“You’re not going to see me running around with signs or asking for money,” she said. “It’s kind of a waste of money. They are either going to vote for me or not.”

Haney said she will take part in debates and forums, and maybe spend a little of her own money on advertising, so that voters will know her position on issues.

In the other council race, Almberg is leading the pack with more than $6,000 in donations. As president of a construction management firm, his long list of donors includes those who have an interest in development, including C. Johnson Construction, Island Property Management, Whidbey Properties, Inc., the surveying firm Fakkema and Kingma, real estate agent Joe Mosolino and Almberg’s own company, RDA & Associates.

His challenger, development critic Mel Vance, hasn’t raised anything, according to the PDC. He said he didn’t want to discuss the issue.

In the final council race, neither Beth Munns nor Chris Hiteshew have reported receiving any contributions, according to the PDC Web site.

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

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