EDITORIAL: Don't make Park board worse

North Whidbey Park and Recreation District’s board has gone through much self-created turmoil in recent months. Personal relations on the board have been poor, the director was fired in a controversial move, and a judge allowed a recall effort to proceed against two board members, though the recall effort later petered out.

One would think the situation is ripe for change, but such is not the case. The two Park Board members up for election, T.J. Harmon-Fisher and Fred Smyth, were not part of the problem.

Harmon-Fisher, the county’s former Emergency Services Director, can be faulted for missing a number of meetings last year. But that was due to family matters and won’t happen again, she says. Otherwise, hers has been a voice of reason on the board. Her opponent, Fred Henninger, is one of Oak Harbor’s lovable curmudgeons whose prime interest is a new tennis facility. This is fine, but he would be better off working for it from the outside rather than the inside.

Fred Smyth has managed to keep his cool during all the name calling and allegations of mismanagement leveled against other board members. Like Harmon-Fisher, he believes the pool is the district’s number one priority, but some consideration should be given to helping provide more youth activities in Oak Harbor.

Smyth’s opponent, Tom Johnson, is leader of Friend of the Pool, the organization which led the recall effort. The group has done good things in helping improve the pool, but his presence on the board would cause more divisiveness, not less.

In recent months the Park Board has settled down. The new director seems to be working out and board meetings are conducted much more openly and civilly. The board needs a period for further healing rather than radical change at this time.

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