Here we are, ballots in hand. We find ourselves, with the power of our votes, with the ability, even the responsibility, to set a course for our city’s future. I’d like to specifically address the City of Oak Harbor — Oak Harbor Transportation Benefit District No.1 — Proposition 1.
It was recently stated that Oak Harbor residents are not in the mood for a new tax right now. I get that. I’m an Oak Harbor resident and I don’t rejoice gleefully at the prospect of any new tax imposition.
This proposal, however, will equate to $1 for every $500 spent on taxable retail sales. This additional revenue source would be collected from everyone making purchases in the City of Oak Harbor; residents, military, tourists and travelers alike.
This would generate approximately $987,000 per year, specifically set aside for sorely needed road repair, along with sidewalk and pedestrian/bicycle lane improvements.
Extensive study of our roadways has been undertaken and the results of that study are no surprise to anyone who drives in our city: Our roads need help.
The question has been asked, “How have city leaders allowed the streets to get into such a state of disrepair?”
That’s a good question, which I can’t readily answer, but even those asking are acknowledging the obvious need for action.
What I do know is, if we fail to act now, our roadways will continue to deteriorate, costs associated with repairing those roads will steadily increase, and we will broaden the gap between what needs to be done and our ability to get it done.
If this proposition does not pass, we will have to look at funding alternatives, all of which would generate significantly less resources and would place the financial burden solely on the shoulders of Oak Harbor residents.
Remember that with this proposal, everyone who uses our roads pays a fair share to maintain them.
Mayor Bob Severns has backed this proposal, even though this is an election year for him.
Recognizing the importance of this issue to our city, he has chosen to support taking action for the betterment of our city while possibly adversely affecting his bid for re-election.
I have worked with the mayor for two years now, and this is yet another sterling example of his integrity and his devotion to duty. He is placing the needs of the city above his own.
I’ve witnessed our mayor work tirelessly to build consensus and coalitions, listening to every party willing to enter the conversation.
We may not always agree, but there is always reasoned, respectful dialogue. This is an invaluable commodity in today’s political climate.
Please pay attention to recent letters sent to this newspaper about who’s financing the campaigns for those running for election in Oak Harbor.
Please take some time to educate yourself about the candidates and the issues before marking your choices and returning your ballot. It’s easy to let the louder, bolder voices drown out those of reason.
It’s easier to sit on the sidelines of social media, taking cheap shots while offering little else of value to the conversation.
Mayor Severns and Councilwoman Tara Hizon are two people who have my admiration for working selflessly for our city, and I believe ought to be given the opportunity to continue to do so.
I can and will work with everyone who is elected on Nov. 5.
In the meantime, I wanted to offer some thoughts to ponder before then.
Oak Harbor City Council