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Whidbey campaign season kicks off

This year’s election has the potential to bring big changes to the politics of the Oak Harbor City Council, the Coupeville Town Council, school boards and the hospital board.

At least a couple of the seats will be up for grabs as incumbents leave the political arena.

The fall election is already on the minds of some potential candidates as the filing week draws near. Candidates are required to file a declaration of candidacy for the 2009 election during the first week of June.

Four positions on the Oak Harbor City Council will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. The positions are currently held by Bob Severns, Eric Gerber, Jim Campbell and Danny Paggao.

Only Gerber said he won’t seek reelection. After two terms, he said he’s ready to take a break. He recently returned to town after taking an extended hiatus from the council; he trained to become a chaplain’s assistant with the National Guard.

“There’s a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is to spend some time with the family,” he said of his decision not to seek reelection. He added that he might run for a political office again in a couple of years.

Campbell announced Friday that he will run. Severns, who was appointed to the position, said he’ll definitely be a candidate. Likewise, Paggao said he’ll seek reelection to what would be his fifth term in office.

A number of names of potential candidates are swirling around town. Former Councilman Paul Brewer is among them, but he’s a little reluctant. He’s known for being an outspoken gadfly of the city administration, but he said he doesn’t relish the idea of being “the Lone Ranger” on the current council, which he feels rubberstamps everything the administration wants.

“Windjammer is dead, sidewalks are dead, the pier is dead. The only thing moving forward is the marina, which benefits only a select few,” he said, referring to a list of city projects.

Former Councilman Bob Morrison said he’s considering running, though he’s happy with the current council.

Randy Bradford, the manager of the Coachman Inn, said he briefly contemplated running, but decided against it. A number of people mentioned financial advisor Scott Dudley as a possible candidate, but he wasn’t available for comment.

Former candidate Mel Vance didn’t return a call for comment.

In Coupeville, there will be at least one new face on the Town Council next year. The two seats up for election are currently held by Jim Phay and Dianne Binder.

Phay said he decided against seeking a second term. He’s retiring at the end of the year and wanted to start with a clean slate.

Binder, on the other hand, wants to keep her seat. She’s completing her first full term.

“It enjoy it. It’s one of my best volunteer jobs,” Binder said.

After a year with turmoil, the election of commissioners for the Whidbey General Hospital board may be lively. A committee of employees slapped the commissioners with a vote of no confidence last year after the former CEO was unceremoniously ousted.

Three positions will be on the ballot, including two currently held by commissioners who were appointed to fill vacancies. Grethe Cammermeyer and Anne Tarrant were not on the board during last year’s controversy.

But the position held by Dr. Paul Zaveruha will be on the ballot.

Other positions up for election include two seats on the Oak Harbor School Board, three positions on the Coupeville School Board, a North Whidbey Fire and Rescue commissioner, a Central Whidbey Fire commissioner, three positions on the North Whidbey Park and Recreation commission, a seat on the Port of Coupeville board, as well as positions on several water, cemetery and sewer district boards.

Candidates can file at the Island County Elections Office, located at 400 North Main St. in Coupeville, Monday, June 1 through Friday, June 5, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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