Island County voters are in for a good time | Editorial

There’s noting voters like than more good competition for elective office, so voters in Oak Harbor should be very pleased with how the race for mayor is shaping up.

As predicted before this week’s filing period, first-term incumbent Jim Slowik is facing opposition from first-term City Councilman Scott Dudley. This isn’t a fight between friends; rather it’s the culmination of Dudley’s long campaign to unseat Slowik, starting virtually from the  day he dusted off his council chair and sat down for the first time.

Dudley was against the mayor’s and former council’s decision to make Pioneer Way one-way. He did what he could after-the-fact to scuttle or delay the project, even trying to deprive it of money promised by the county. Dudley gained favor with some in the police department by questioning cost-cutting there. The fact that he was accompanied to the auditor’s office where he filed for mayor by four off-duty police offers says a lot. Police seldom get personally involved in politics, and the four who went with Dudley probably represented the feelings of many others.

Slowik carries other baggage into the new election, including his stubborn adherence to a subcommittee meeting process that violated the Open Public Meetings Act. Then he bragged that he changed the policy after being advised to do so by the state Attorney’ General Office. Dudley was one of two council members, the other being Jim Campbell, who knew it was the wrong approach all along.

But Slowik has also gotten things done, the main case in point being the big Pioneer Way improvement project downtown. It’s on time, the impacted merchants are being treated with respect, the street’s infrastructure is finally being repaired and updated, and the ugly utility lines are being buried. People will still argue over the one-way issue, but everyone should be impressed at the grand re-opening of the historic street this fall.

Dudley, meanwhile, has to show he can work with other council members and not just be a naysayer, and offer some new ideas of his own to pay for necessary improvements, such a new sewer plant, without busting the budgets of taxpayers. He’ll need more than one or two issues to win this election  in which he’s bucking the city’s power structure.

Whatever the outcome, it promises to be an outstanding mayoral race, with voters given a clear choice between two competent candidates with differing ideas. This is exactly how democracy is supposed to work.


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