Expect a great race for mayor | Editorial

Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik dug himself a big hole in public support when he went ahead with the one-way Pioneer Way project despite opposition from the large majority of those who spoke at public hearings. That hole got a lot deeper when the construction project turned up the remains of Native Americans, a possibility raised by a state agency but ignored by Slowik and city officials until it was too late. The project now looks to be months late and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the expected budget.

Slowik also has big problems on the open public meetings front. He went head-to-head with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and lost, having to make changes in how subcommittee meetings are handled. To show that the spirit of the Open Public Meetings Act never really sank in, he called a special meeting of the city council Tuesday, Aug. 19, with legal but minimal notice given to the citizens. It was so “special” that it won’t even be televised, so the vast majority of voters will never see the details of how $200,000 was spent to deal with the “bone problem.”

With Slowik up for election this year, he looks like the biggest sitting duck since Baby Huey. However, his opponent is City Councilman Scott Dudley, a longtime Slowik nemesis who has been unable to endear himself to the hearts of many Slowik critics because his long campaign for mayor has been largely based on negativity, rather than a positive program.

The general election in November promises to be one of the best in Oak Harbor’s history. The gaffe-prone incumbent is nevertheless rather a likable character and can always argue that at least he’s getting things done after four decades of talk  about the deteriorating downtown.

To date, Dudley has come across as Snidely Whiplash, always striking out at others. He needs to find a Dudley Do-Right side, ready to rescue the fair maiden Oak Harbor and lead her to a brighter future.

Neither candidate is perfect, but each has numerous supporters whose emotions run high. It should be a great race for mayor.

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