Editor's Column: Hitting the career trifecta on Whidbey Island

I never thought I’d make it this far.

In the early ‘80s, I started out in Whidbey Island’s smallest daytime town of Langley. Technically, its population was a bit larger than Coupeville’s, but the swarm of government workers who come to the county seat each day put its daytime population far above Langley’s.

And then there was Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island’s own behemoth with a Navy base, rumored Kmart and its own swimming pool.

Never did I imagine that one day I would call each of Whidbey Island’s towns my place of work. When I moved from Langley to Oak Harbor in the year of 2001 I figured that was it. I would have at least covered both ends of the island, which is more than most people can say who spend their careers on Whidbey.

Then the economics of newspapers changed and we had to do more with less. That meant sharing an office with the South Whidbey paper, so we all moved to Coupeville. That happened last week, and I’m now sitting at the same desk in the top floor of a two-story building, higher than I’ve ever been before. I used to stare out at Anthes Avenue in Langley, and at a concrete block wall on the old press building in Oak Harbor, but now I look at ducks flying against the wind whipping across Ebey’s Prairie, and can see acres of crops trying to get started despite the cold April.

The phone rang and I felt right at home, fielding a complaint from an elected official that an editorial wasn’t quite on the money. I defended it as close enough, and we amicably agreed to disagree. It was nice to know that no matter where you work on Whidbey Island, some things remain the same.

I’ve been on Whidbey Island a long time, but I don’t yet profess to know who’s pulling the strings or how things work. Things get done in public, but agreements are made in private, and I’m never sure who’s talking to whom. I can only marvel at people who work for the New York Times or CNN or some other world news power. They literally cover the planet and write memoirs about their experiences and why things happened the way the did in Rawalpindi back in ‘81, or why Lyndon Johnson did what he did back in ‘64. How can they possible know what really happened on the world scene when I can’t even figure out why the Clinton Chamber disbanded 10 years ago and then rebanded a few years later, or why Camano Island is still part of Island County?

Chalk it up to limited brain power, perhaps, but I still find covering Whidbey Island challenging enough without flying off to Pakistan or Thailand for an in-depth story that will be forgotten the next day. And I’m looking forward to covering North Whidbey from the county seat, just a few blocks from where the county commissioners meet. Being this close to them, maybe I can finally figure out why they do what they do. If so, you’ll be the first to know.

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