Slowik makes run for mayor

A man who strived for years on behalf of the Oak Harbor School District is trying his hand at city politics.

Jim Slowik decided over the holiday weekend to run for mayor. He feels he can bring back some of the credibility to city government, as he helped the school district achieve. Slowik spent five years on the school board, including two years as the board president. He worked as chairman for many school bond campaigns, including the successful stadium effort.

“The biggest issue for me is leadership and direction,” he said. “I think I can provide that. I think that’s my strong suit.”

Slowik also has a lot of experience in the business world, which he hopes to bring to bear on the office of mayor. He’s managed two different car dealerships, formerly owned the Volkswagen / Mazda dealership in Oak Harbor, and managed the dealer department as vice president of Whidbey Island Bank. He currently owns Slowik Motors.

Slowik will have at least two challengers for the position, which came open when Mayor Patty Cohen made a surprise decision not to seek reelection this year.

Councilman Paul Brewer and Councilwoman Sue Karahalios both made their candidacies official this week. Councilman Jim Campbell said he’ll make a decision during the filing period June 4 to 8.

“If there is what I consider to be an excellent candidate, then I won’t run,” he said. “If I don’t like the candidates, I’ll throw my hat in the ring.”

Bob Morrison, a former city councilman, said last week that he was strongly considering running for the office, but he couldn’t be reached Tuesday for an update.

Like Slowik, Brewer said he doesn’t plan to give up his day job to be mayor. Brewer, solid waste director for the Navy base, said the mayor should be a part-time position as it was under former Mayor Al Koetje. He points out that the city has a $126,000-a-year city administrator and many capable department heads. He plans to end what he calls micro-management from the mayor’s office.

“What I plan on doing is encouraging staff to do their jobs and holding them responsible,” he said.

Known as a gadfly on the city council, Brewer said he wants to make government more open and accessible to the public.

Karahalios said she decided over the weekend to run after receiving “such a positive outpouring” from supporters. A retired school teacher, Karahalios is well known and extremely active in the community.

She also has a wide variety of experience. Her first term on city council expires this year. She was a state representative and a long-time member of the city’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force. She represents Oak Harbor on both state and national committees.

Karahalios has touted her networking abilities and contacts at all levels of government.

“I still bring some unique skills that I think the city really needs,” she said.

Both Brewer and Karahalios are taking a risk in running for mayor since they will lose their council seats. Councilman Larry Eaton announced he won’t run for reelection, which means three council seats will be open in the election.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

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