It’s ironic that Oak Harbor City Council candidate Michael Crawford claims the current council is influenced by special interests and that he and fellow candidate Jeffrey Mack can change that.
City leaders and others have questioned the two candidates’ special interest in boosting development — and removing the city as an “obstacle” — while they both received their largest campaign contributions from Scott Thompson, the developer behind Wright’s Crossing who has sparred with local government and would certainly gain from having more friends in elected positions.
Voters should leave this intrigue behind and vote for Councilwoman Tara Hizon and candidate Joseph Busig.
Hizon, who’s running against Crawford, is an independent and experienced voice on the council and isn’t afraid to speak her mind or even mix it up with the mayor or other council members.
Joseph Busig, who’s up against Mack, has a special interest in helping and representing working-class people and the younger crowd. He knocks on doors and he listens to regular folks who live paycheck to paycheck. As a 19-year-old college student, Busig is the underdog in the race, but he’s earnest to a fault and has more volunteering and community involvement on his bio than Crawford and Mack combined.
All of the candidates agree that development is important. But contrary to Crawford’s and Mack’s assertions, the city isn’t an obstacle on the road to development-driven paradise. It’s the state Growth Management Act and stringent regulations on stormwater that put dampers on development and increase the costs of new homes. Railing against a city council or planning department, or pushing them to bend the rules for their favorite developer, will accomplish nothing.
In the race for mayor, Pat Harman promises change. In his campaign against Mayor Bob Severns, he’s consistently focused on the issue of financial responsibility. It’s a message that undoubtedly resonates with many Oak Harbor voters. He’s an interesting and eccentric candidate.
Nonetheless, Severns remains the right man for the job. He has lived in Oak Harbor for 45 years and has been involved in a long list of important groups and committees, including the Rotary, the Navy League and the chamber of commerce. That counts for a lot.
Harman’s experience as a legislative aid in Alaska doesn’t translate to expertise in city finances. Like so many politicians, he hasn’t said how he would fix the budget — which really isn’t the mayor’s decision anyway. He said he would quit if he accomplishes what he wants and hand his job over to the mayor pro tem; clearly, his commitment to the city isn’t long term.
Severns has work left to do. He’s in the midst of negotiations with the Navy for sewage plant hookups, which would lower rates for residents. He’s also negotiating a potentially exciting opportunity at the marina.
A vote for Severns is the right choice.