Eaton opens council vacancy

This may be the last year Larry Eaton gets to sit in a comfortable chair at Oak Harbor City Council meetings.

Eaton, the position 3 city councilman, has decided that he won’t seek reelection as his term ends this year. He said he would rather dedicate his time to family issues and to traveling after serving two terms at the dais.

“God only gives us so much time to be on Earth and there’s other things I need and want to do,” he said.

Eaton initially said he would run again after the News-Times contacted him when Rick Almberg announced he is running for position 3. Eaton said he was surprised that the election season began so early and his initial impulse was to say he planned to run.

After further reflection, Eaton said he decided against seeking another term.

“I felt it’s important to send the message to the community, especially since the filing period has moved up,” he said. The filing period for elected offices is early this year because of a law change. It’s June 4 to 8.

By announcing he won’t seek reelection, Eaton hopes to spur others to run for his seat. While he said he’s “only heard good things about Rick Almberg,” he wants at least one other person to run for the seat.

“I’m hoping that someone really viable runs against him,” Eaton said. “I believe in the political process and I believe people should have a choice.”

Besides Eaton, terms expire in 2007 for Councilman Paul Brewer, Councilwoman Sue Karahalios and Mayor Patty Cohen.

Almberg, a seven-year member of the planning commission, threw his hat in the ring last month. One of Almberg’s major concerns, he said, is traffic congestion on Highway 20.

Eaton served two terms as councilman separated by a number of years. Back when Steve Dernbach was mayor, Eaton worked to open communication between city government and the residents, resulting in such things as the televised meetings and time for public comment at the beginning of meetings.

In his recent term, Eaton was one of the council members who pushed hardest for the Windjammer Plan, tourism-boosting master plan for the waterfront and downtown area. He serves as chairman of the Windjammer Committee, charged with implementing the wide-ranging plan.

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