Editorial: Keep Conard, elect Dannhauer

Small town politics at its best is alive in Coupeville where there is competition for the mayoral position as well as three Town Council seats. In an era when many small towns have trouble finding even one candidate to run, the plethora of candidates in Coupeville this year is an indication of how deeply people feel about their town and how much they care about its future.

There’s a lot to be said for the incumbents, however. Especially Mayor Nancy Conard who is practically an institution after 12 years in office. She holds the unique position of mayor and full-time paid administrator, but for Coupeville it works. Critics say the arrangement weakens the doctrine of separation of powers, but that’s no big concern. After every election the council has the power to change or eliminate the contract, and there’s no reason to end a good thing now. Conard has helped cure the town’s water woes, encouraged responsible growth, helped protect the town’s boundaries from development, and works extremely well with others in government and state agencies. Her challenger, Gordon Burton, is an outstanding citizen in his own right and would make a fine mayor in time, but there’s no reason to replace a veteran like Conard with a novice. Conard has the energy and know-how to keep making Coupeville better, so voters should give her that chance.

Similar thoughts could be expressed about the three council members up for election, Bob Clay, Marshall Bronson and Molly Hughes. They’ve worked as a close-knit team with Conard to get things done, a union which itself prompts criticism. Some Coupeville residents feel left out of the process, or that their voices are unheard, and that’s one reason challengers have arisen in this election.

Without taking anything away from any of the incumbents, Coupeville would benefit by having some new blood with fresh ideas on the Town Council. Ann Dannhauer, who’s running against 12-year council veteran Marshall Bronson, best fits this description. Dannhauer, a physician, is smart and appears to be dedicated and hard working. For those looking for change in Coupeville, Dannhauer is the best bet. Bronson would no doubt find other ways to serve his community.

Incumbents Bob Clay and Molly Hughes should be retained to assure the continuity of a successful governing team. Their respective challengers, Gary Piazzon and Roxallanne Medley, are qualified in terms of experience and interests, but Piazzon might be too doctrinaire in the green sense of the term, and the ultra-creative Medley might find it difficult to work effectively as a member of a team.

Adding Dannhauer to the Town Council would be change enough for Coupeville.

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