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Peterson enters race for Oak Harbor City Council
A behind-the-scenes voice in Oak Harbor politics is taking center stage.
Sandi Peterson is challenging Councilman Joel Servatius for Position No. 5 in November general election.
She formalized her bid for public office by filing with the state Public Disclosure Commission late last month.
Peterson, 61, has never served in elected office but is well known in political circles as former campaign manager for Mayor Scott Dudley and Councilman Jim Campbell. She helped Dudley unseat Jim Slowik during a heated race for mayor in 2011.
She led Campbell’s unsuccessful bid last year for county commissioner.
Before that, she worked on one of Dino Rossi’s gubernatorial campaigns and the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — all Republicans.
Coming out of the gate swinging, she has called the reigning City Council obstructionist toward the mayor and out of touch with the public.
“They are rude, uncivil, disrespectful and I don’t like it,” Peterson said.
“It has to stop.”
“This current crop of City council members I truly think have lost sight of the people they are serving,” she said.
Servatius, appointed by the council last year to fill the seat formerly held by Dudley, could not be reached for comment.
As of Monday, he had not filed with the state commission.
Married and a mother of four, Peterson grew up in Skagit County.
Her husband is a retired senior chief with the Navy. They lived all over before moving to Oak Harbor in 2007.
Peterson worked in property management, has a real estate brokers license, and spent years in the home-based sales industry commonly known as party plan. She decided to retire earlier this year.
Peterson, who called herself an “astute observer” of city government, said her top two focuses, if elected, will be fiscal responsibility and the proposed sewer treatment plant, which is currently estimated to cost $93.5 million.
She said elected officials must be cognizant that city coffers are filled with money provided by the community. Peterson added she is very concerned that there may be support on the council to “take” private property for the new sewer facility.
“That bothers me,” she said. “I think that’s the last thing we should do.”
While Peterson is championing fiscal responsibility, she remains a Dudley supporter, though some detractors of the mayor have accused him of squandering taxpayer dollars in the form of employee severance packages, recruitment costs and interim expenses.
Dudley fired five department heads — the fire chief, police chief, city administrator and two city attorneys — since taking office.
Peterson said she likes some of Dudley decisions better than others, but defends the mayor’s employment choices.
It’s “his duty” to make changes when necessary, Peterson said.
The high cost of installing new leadership was the result of decisions made by his predecessors, Peterson added.
“You can’t really blame him for the (financial) loss of an employee with a really good severance package.”
Peterson currently serves as vice chairwoman of the Island County Republican Party, president of the Republican Women of North Whidbey and was appointed to the Oak Harbor Planning Commission last month.
If elected to council, Peterson said she hopes to be an advocate of the people.
“I truly think the people here deserve better representation and I think I can offer that.”