EDITORIAL: Eaton, Karahalios for city council

Oak Harbor City Council has two contested seats on the ballot. Larry Eaton is challenging incumbent Nora O’Connell-Balda, while Clairann Haney and Sue Karahalios are seeking the seat being vacated by Bob Morrison. Both races feature distinct choices, and both will be difficult for many voters to decide on.

O’Connell-Balda has faithfully served the council after being appointed and then running unopposed. She does her homework and generally votes in support of the mayor’s position.

O’Connell-Balda’s opponent, Larry Eaton, is seeking to return to the council after having served from 1994 to 1997 when the voters “retired” him after the great Wal-Mart siting controversy. While on the council he did a lot for open government, leading the successful movement to put meetings on cable TV and to provide a time for public comment at each council meeting. His devotion to open government is commendable, and he has a firm grasp of how government functions.

O’Connell-Balda has worked hard, but Eaton will take more of a leadership role in the position and contribute his own ideas to the process.

Sue Karahalios, with her history as a state representative and long teaching career, is one of Oak Harbor’s best known figures. Her challenger, Clairann Haney, is a political newcomer who offers a well-reasoned, conservative outlook on government.

Karahalios is preferable for several reasons. First, Oak Harbor needs to work more closely with the state, and she has considerable experience at the state level. Second, Oak Harbor needs to work more closely with the school district, and she has vast experience in that realm. Third, she’s an independent thinker and hard worker, willing to contribute her considerable energy to improving the city. Fourth, so many people know her that public interest in city government is bound to increase with her election.

Haney shows promise but doesn’t have Karahalios’ experience in public service. Had she run at a different time, or for a different position, she would be easy to support.

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