It’s our hope that nobody runs for public office unopposed on Whidbey Island this year.
Debate, discussion and new ideas are vital to a functioning democracy, but those things often don’t happen when someone is elected by default.
It’s happened too many times in the past, and the sense of accountability to the voters too frequently seems forgotten.
Consider a run for office if you have concerns or solutions to local problems, want to help shape the future or you care deeply about the community.
Being an elected official can be thankless at times, but it can also be rewarding. The key is to listen to — and hear — constituents, be an independent thinker, always be transparent and don’t take criticism personally.
Your opportunity comes May 13-17, filing week.
Many seats are on the November ballot, including the mayors of both Oak Harbor and Coupeville, council seats, school board positions and more.
Right now, one of the biggest controversies in local government involves the WhidbeyHealth board and the direction of the hospital. Things came to a head recently with the CEO’s surprise resignation amid budget issues. The hospital board plays a crucial role in providing health care on the island, but current board members usually run unopposed.
Two of the positions are on the ballot this year.
Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns is running again and already has a challenger. Hopefully additional candidates come forward. It’s a key position, and more candidates mean greater community engagement.
Longtime Councilman Rick Almberg won’t seek reelection, leaving a sizable void in city leadership. Councilwomen Beth Munns and Tara Hizon are running for re-election.
Challengers in Coupeville races might liven things up, or at least foster a community conversation. Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes is running again. Three council positions will be on the ballot.
Those seeking public office are leaders in the community whether they win or lose.
The process is as important as the outcome.