Crider draws two council opponents

The Oak Harbor City Council has a lot of big plans for the next few years, including redevelopment of the waterfront and downtown, building a city pier, and maybe even building roundabouts around the city.

To join in the exciting decision-making to come, three candidates are vying for one position, while three other city council seats are uncontested.

Incumbent Councilwoman Sheilah Crider, chef and landscaper Jeffrey Kelly and Kevin Helwick of Whidbey Island Ford-Mercury are running for position 4.

Joseph Campbell, a regular council-watcher and retired Lockheed Martin project manager, has signed up for Councilman Richard Davis’ seat, as he announced earlier this year. Davis has made it clear that he doesn’t intend to run again.

Incumbent councilmen Eric Gerber and Danny Paggao are running unopposed.

Kelly may be the youngest person to ever run for Oak Harbor City Council. The energetic 23-year-old is a chef at Jason’s restaurant and works part-time for Councilman Gerber’s landscaping company.

Kelly, a 5-year resident, said he became interested in city politics when he noticed how few activities the city has for children and young adults. He believes that city government should focus more money and attention on youth programs.

In addition, Kelly said he wants to help encourage the revitalization of Midway Boulevard. He’s also concerned about traffic congestion on Highway 20. In fact, he said these two issues are intertwined.

“If Midway Boulevard was revitalized,” he said, “a lot of people would be taking that road instead of the highway.”

Kelly said he’s against roundabouts and in favor of the city’s plans to redevelop downtown and the waterfront.

Helwick, general manager of Whidbey Island Ford-Mercury, did not return calls for comment. He spoke before the council earlier this year to protest a city zoning code that prevented car dealerships on Pioneer Way and the nearby section of Highway 20 from expanding or improving their businesses.

Crider said she’s never met Helwick, but she does have something in common, namely a taste in vehicles. She owns a Ford, has owned many Mercury vehicles and has family members who worked for Ford Motors.

This is Crider’s second term on the City Council. She’s been involved in the municipal pier project from the beginning and is a supporter of tourism consultant Roger Brooks’ plans for redeveloping downtown and the waterfront. She convinced fellow council members, at the last moment, to save the landmark oak tree at the post office from being chopped down.

Crider said she’s not sure what the major campaign issues will be this year, but she’s looking forward to speaking to the public about the future of the city.

“I love Oak Harbor,” she said,” and I assume everyone who’s running does as well.”

You can reach Jessie Stensland at or 675-6611.

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