As is the tradition, the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce held a forum Thursday for local political candidates who make it through the primary election. Unfortunately, the event was less than exciting. A room full of the city’s best and brightest had the chance to ask questions of the candidates, but they couldn’t muster more than one query per candidate. Some got none.
Hopefully, the community will become more engaged as the General Election draws near and the candidates are better able to communicate their ideas to voters. Fortunately, the League of Women Voters is once again hosting forums for candidates and issues. The first forum for candidates for state Senate, the state House and the county commission will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, October 4 at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, 155 NE Ernst Street, Oak Harbor.
An issue forum will be at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7 at the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor. Lively discussions about marijuana, gay marriage, charter schools and taxes are expected.
It’s an important election for Whidbey Island. Two of three Island County commissioners are up for reelection this fall. Whoever wins will make some big decisions about the shape of the county over the next four years. The budget continues to be a hot-button issue, especially as the sheriff and other law-and-justice officials clamor for more. The commissioners recently refused their request for a special sales tax to fund cops and courts, but it’s bound to come up again.
The county will be going through a large-scale Comprehensive Plan update in the next few years. It can be dry stuff, but land-use planning has a big impact on businesses, property owners and the environment. And there’s the issue of whether the city of Oak Harbor should be allowed to expand its urban growth area to grow westward.
It’s also a big year for 10th Legislative District. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is facing off against Oak Harbor resident Barbara Bailey, currently a state representative. The election pits Democrat Haugen, a seasoned politicians with plenty of clout, against Republican Bailey, a fiscal and social conservative.
Voters should be sure to attend the upcoming forums and be prepared to pepper the candidates with tough questions. The future of Whidbey Island is at stake.