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Gerber leaves council, stays in Oak Harbor

Mayor Jim Slowik shows off some new “bling” from Councilman Eric Gerber (left), who presented the mayor and City Council members with token gifts to lighten an otherwise serious government meeting. Gerber is stepping down after two terms. Scott Dudley will replace Gerber in January. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Mayor Jim Slowik shows off some new “bling” from Councilman Eric Gerber (left), who presented the mayor and City Council members with token gifts to lighten an otherwise serious government meeting. Gerber is stepping down after two terms. Scott Dudley will replace Gerber in January.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Councilman Eric Gerber will start a new chapter this year as he retires from his seat on the Oak Harbor City Council and enrolls as a Chaplain’s Candidate with the National Guard.

Gerber will continue to operate his Oak Harbor business, Gerb’s Landscape, during the two-year Chaplain’s Candidate program.

The council held a mini-farewell for Gerber at his last council meeting, Dec. 15, complete with a large cake.

Mayor Pro Tem Danny Paggao praised Gerber for his eight years of public service on the council.

“I saw your passion for service to the city, youth, recycling, economic development and many other causes,” Paggao told Gerber. “You’re leaving the city of Oak Harbor a better place to live, work and play.”

First elected in 2001, Gerber could be one of the youngest to ever serve on council, said Paggao.

“My son Kevin was his contemporary in high school,” he said.

Mayor Jim Slowik interjected that his daughter, Kristi, also attended Oak Harbor High School with Gerber.

“We all know you strive to be healthy; healthier than me,” Slowik quipped, as he presented Gerber with a complimentary entry to the upcoming city-owned Whidbey Island Marathon.

Gerber said he’s already training for the long race scheduled for April with four other runners. There are hundreds of competitors.

“One thing that doesn’t happen with public meetings a lot is fun,” Gerber said as he took the podium with an armful of colorful toys.

Gerber described his two-terms on the City Council as a “humbling, overwhelming experience.”

As a token to his council colleagues, Gerber presented each member with an orange construction cone as a reminder to construct a better community.

If one of you drops the cone, the vision will not suffer, he said, but if all of you drop the cones, the vision changes.

“I encourage you to stick together and work as one council,” he said.

Finance Director Doug Merriman also received a token cone. In Gerber’s view, Merriman is also an important member of the council “team.”

“Gerber then moved his attention to the mayor, giving him a large, red pair of scissors so that he may “cut though the red tape,” plastic coins “because he might need more money,” a stress ball to help him through the tough times, a shield so he and the council members may have “thick skin,” and a smiley face notepad to keep the mayor in good spirits.

Gerber’s mother, father and children also attended the council meeting in his support.

Following the four and a half-hour meeting, Gerber left the council members with one last thought.

“I challenge the council to continue to work on their relationships with each other, the community and to respect each other,” he said.

As a final note of business for the evening, Councilman Bob Severns was appointed as the chairman of the public safety committee, a position formerly held by Gerber. The council also assigned incoming Councilman Scott Dudley as a member of the public safety committee when he takes office in January.

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