Dudley, Oliver offer voters varying styles

The race is on between a real estate agent and a financial advisor for the Oak Harbor City Council seat being vacated by Eric Gerber.

Gerry Oliver and Scott Dudley each have a unique approach to city government, giving voters a choice between a community-minded or politically-minded candidate in the Nov. 3 election.

“I don’t view myself as a politician,” Oliver said. “I just want to make my community a better place.”

Oliver said it’s important for Oak Harborites to look at the choices they have, and he’s not afraid to make a few waves in the process.

“I offer a different way of thinking,” he said. “It’s time to separate the apples from the oranges. It’s time to understand what’s in front of us and to ask the hard questions.”

While Oliver has branched out to other concerns in city government since his initial burst onto the local political scene during the August primary, he’s still keen on youth issues.

“Every council member has their own niche and mine will always be youth,” he said.

Although Dudley’s less inclined to disturb the relatively smooth waters of Oak Harbor’s city government, he doesn’t mind a few ripples.

“I like to dance,” he said when asked to take a position on the Pioneer Street redevelopment, refusing to be pinned down on a specific plan.

The City Council will make that decision before the election results, he said, in an attempt to skirt the question.

With a little prodding, Dudley settled on the two-way-street option, but said he’d first consult with downtown businesses and those affected on a daily basis if he were pressed to make a decision.

Oliver, on the other hand, prefers the one-way option that’s billed as the most “pedestrian-friendly” choice. However, the city-preferred option has raised concern among business owners for its lack of parking spaces. But in Oliver’s eyes, wider sidewalks will draw pedestrians, and more business, downtown.

“I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about,” he said.

The two candidates share a similar view regarding the city’s $50,000 investment in the Whidbey Island Marathon. Neither feel the city should manage such a monumental athletic event.

The price tag is small in comparison to the cost of running the marathon, Dudley said, suggesting the city delegate the run’s organization and operations to a civic organization like the Rotary Club. Dudley was a member of the city’s marathon advisory committee that researched, and ultimately supported, the marathon’s purchase.

Dudley’s also aiming for more transparency in the form of taped standing committee meetings and an updated Web site, in addition to less “micromanaging” of city staff if he’s selected to take Gerber’s seat.

“Just let them do their jobs,” he said.

As for the city’s Web site, it could be “improved greatly with a lot less than we’re spending now,” he opined.

If Oliver is elected to office he’ll keep an eye on the upcoming wastewater treatment plant and the marina’s phase-two project, a topic that should have been discussed with more depth, he said.

As for the biggest difference between Dudley and himself, Oliver said he’s not afraid of straightforward talk.

“I state what I’m for and what I’m against,” he said.

Dudley maintains a broad platform that touches on a variety of city government issues and trends toward local business interests.

“I think youth services is just one aspect of the council,” Dudley said.

Scott Dudley received about 53 percent, Gerry Oliver 28 percent and Mel Vance 18 percent of the votes during the August primary election. Ballots for the general election will soon be in the mail and must be returned by Nov. 3. Call the Island County election office at 679-7366 for more information.

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