Editorial: Calm before the storm

One good thing about a primary in August is that, when it’s over, there’s time for candidates and voters alike to take a breather before the final round.

When the primary was in the middle of September, by the time the votes were counted and the results certified there was just over a month until the November election. Everyone had to hurry, from the elections staff in the auditor’s office to people arranging candidates’ forums to newspapers planning election coverage. Now, there’s a welcome period of calm before the storm of the November election.

In Oak Harbor, winning primary candidates can relax a bit before taking on their general election challenger. The exception might be the mayor’s race, where second place finisher Paul Brewer pulled no punches even before the final vote tally is recorded. He attacked winner Jim Slowik with enthusiasm, picking on his supporters and his abbreviated tenure on the school board. Hopefully, the campaigns won’t descend into personal attacks. Voters want to hear about the issues and what to do about them, not the perceived shortcomings of the opposition. Besides, after a strong primary showing, Slowik isn’t exactly shaking in his boots at Brewer’s charges. He’s got a broad base of support in the community and it’s going to take much more than hot air to undermine his candidacy. Slowik can probably waltz to victory if he just reaches out a bit more to those concerned about unchecked development.

In the one city council primary race, Jim Palmer, a businessman and newcomer to elective politics, showed that hard work does indeed pay off. He beat former Councilman Bob Morrison handily, taking about as many votes as Morrison and the third place finisher, Clairann Haney, combined. The lesson here might be that voters are ready for the change, as long as the change demonstrates competency and the proper life experience.

With the advent of the general election season, voters will finally get to know the candidates for the other two City Council positions that are open. Beth Munns for position 2 and Rick Almberg for position 3 both have feisty challengers in, respectively, Chris Hiteshew and Mel Vance. But Munns and Almberg have such deep roots and so many friends in the community and their challengers are so politically inexperienced that it’s hard to see how they could lose. Some advice to Hiteshew and Vance: Have fun during the campaign, attend the forums and debates, challenge the status quo, display a sense of humor, and let the votes fall as they may. Underdogs play an important role in local politics just by pointing out the foibles of the in crowd.

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