Park and Rec candidate wants greater transparency

An Oak Harbor man is trying to increase the North Whidbey park district’s transparency and public involvement.

Christopher Wiegenstein said he’s running for a North Whidbey Pool, Park and Recreation District seat because of his deep ties to the community and personal experiences with the pool and dog park.

His opponent, John Chargualaf, is an Oak Harbor High School teacher who has coached the school boys swim team since 2018. He did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.

Wiegenstein was on the swim team in the mid ‘80s throughout his adolescence and, since moving back two years ago, is now a frequent visitor to the dog park at Clover Valley.

“I just want to make sure that those facilities all get utilized and continue to get utilized,” Wiegenstein said.

The district shuttered its pool in 2017 after it failed to pass a maintenance and operation levy. It was re-opened in 2018 after an outside foundation was created to spearhead fundraising efforts. The district successfully passed a levy in 2018.

In the two years he’s been attending district meetings, he’s seen little community input, he said. He’ d like to hear from the public more regularly and publish meeting minutes and financial information in a timely way.

“Those things should be out to the public pretty quickly, which hasn’t been historically the case,” he said.

He said he has a robust understanding of how governance works as a member of the Oak Harbor Youth Coalition, Kiwanis and board member for Washington Association of Addiction Professions and the Whidbey Homeless Coalition.

Wiegenstein also said the current board has been indecisive and “decisions maybe need to be made faster.”

He said he’d bring in a different kind of attitude.

“I’m not here to make friends with the board members,” he said,” I’m here to represent the people of North Whidbey.”

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