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Dudley earns Oak Harbor mayor’s chair | Editorial
Scott Dudley will be Oak Harbor’s new mayor due to the impressive results of the Nov. 8 election when he unseated incumbent Jim Slowik with a victory margin of 13 percent.
Dudley was a low-key critic of the mayor as he sat on the city council for nearly two years, asking tough questions and making the mayor and his supporters squirm. Whenever he saw a chance to make allies of the city critics, he took it. Dudley provided a shoulder to cry on when opponents criticized the decision to make downtown a one-way street or asked why more wasn’t done to prevent the costly fiasco of the Native American remains.
Slowik was an effective mayor and very high profile, always present at major public events and involved in islandwide issues such as working with the Port of South Whidbey to bring an expansion of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland to Oak Harbor.
The present mayor also kept a high profile by using the city’s Channel 10 as it has never been used before. His unofficial Jim Slowik Show featured mayoral interviews with everyone from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station commanding officer to the police and fire chiefs and other department heads. It was informative TV but also kept Slowik’s face before the public right up to election day.
Dudley, meanwhile, was working under the radar, using shoe leather as his main campaign tool. He walked city streets knocking on doors, listening to citizens and making his pitch for mayor.
Effective politicians are often brought down by something called hubris, defined as “excessive pride and self confidence.” In other words, the voters feel their leader isn’t listening to them, thinking that he or she knows best. When the city ignored the outcry against the one-way project, one that was led by downtown merchants who gathered more than 2,000 signatures against it, the handwriting was on the wall. Whether the project would pan out in the end or not, someone would pay for pushing it through.
Mayor Slowik can leave with his head held high. He deserves the community’s gratitude for four years of hard, sincere work which saw many improvements to the city. He provided the tough, focused leadership that had been missing for years.
Dudley deserves congratulations for running and outstanding and low-key campaign. If he runs the city in a similar fashion, he won’t be making any rash decisions and the transition will go smoothly. The council should give him a chance to lead and continue working together to make Oak Harbor a better place to live.