OAK HARBOR CITY COUNCIL PRIMARY: Vance offers a different approach

One Oak Harbor City Council race is on the primary election ballot, which voters have already received in the mail. Scott Dudley, Gerry Oliver and Mel Vance are seeking Position 5, which is being vacated by Eric Gerber. The two candidates who get the most primary votes will advance to the general election in November. Return ballots must be postmarked no later than election day, Aug. 18.

Over the past two years, Mel Vance has attended nearly every Oak Harbor City Council meeting, often with a soda in hand, where he’s put in his two-cents’ worth on a wide range of issues.

“I bring a different view point,” he said, adding that he’d like to rock what he sees as the current councils’ ho-hum culture. “They all have the same way of thinking.”

Finances continue to be a big problem for the city, according to Vance, who said there’s too much reliance on grant money.

“We need to find another revenue stream, preferably not taxes,” he said, adding that — if necessary — he’d support property tax over sales tax.

Vance suggests the city could generate revenue through a new garbage disposal technology called “plasma conversion,” which turns waste into energy that can be sold.

“It’s clean and can be used to generate revenue without raising taxes,” he said.

Encouraging light industrial business along Goldie Road instead of retail may be one way to bolster the city’s revenue over the long term, according to Vance.

Vance believes the city needs to increase density by rezoning some areas to accommodate five-story buildings, as long as they’re not along the waterfront.

In terms of affordable housing, he said rent is still too high, but the city’s effort to offer affordable living is a “first step.”

“We also need affordable housing for working families,” he said.

Most importantly, Vance said, the city needs to set more realistic project goals.

“New projects are great, but the city needs to budget for maintenance,” he said, pointing out the need for a new fire station on the west side of the city.

Vance said the fire and police departments need more money, but exactly where that funding will come from is still in question.

“Until the economy improves, there’s not a lot of options,” he said. “Taxes aren’t even a good option.”

The city should also review where it is spending money, he said.

“I highly question the amount of money invested in Pioneer Way,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to focus so any resources on such a small area.”

Vance just wants to get in, make some improvements and get out.

“I’m looking out for businesses and citizens. At most I’ll serve two terms and I’ll be gone,” he said.

Meet the candidates

Meet and question the candidates for Oak Harbor City Council at a forum Tuesday, July 28, presented by the League of Women Voters of Island County.

Candidates Scott Dudley, Gerry Oliver and Mel Vance have been invited to give statements and answer questions from the audience.

In addition, Island Transit’s proposed sales tax increase of three-tenths of one percent will be discussed.

The forum takes place from 7 to 9 p.m., July 28 at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, 155 NE Ernst St.

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