The 2019 election campaign has already started in Oak Harbor.
Resident Patrick Harman announced this he is running for mayor largely because of his concern over what he sees as financial mistakes by city leaders in recent years, most notably the new sewage treatment plant.
He said the current elected leadership in the city needs to change.
“I don’t think we should reward people who bought the highest priced sewage treatment plant they can buy and put it downtown,” he said.
Mayor Bob Severns hasn’t announced his intentions yet. He didn’t return a call for comment.
It’s an important year in Whidbey politics. The Oak Harbor mayor and three council members, the Coupeville mayor and three council members, two hospital commissioners and three school board members in both Coupeville and Oak Harbor will be on the ballot.
Harman said he decided to throw his hat in because he’s concluded that city leaders don’t understand public finance, which he said is quite different from personal or business finance.
“It’s gotten to a point where someone’s got to do something,” he said.
Another bad financial decision, he said, is building a $1-million kitchen in Windjammer Park.
“It’s going to be the Hilton for the homeless,” he said.
Harman said he learned about public finance working as a legislative aide for the state of Alaska.
Another concern that Harman has is the amount of deferred maintenance he sees in the city. He said the streets are in terrible shape and the transportation benefit district, a taxing district, that the council adopted is not the right solution.
The boat hoist at the marina is inoperable after years of deferred maintenance, he claimed. Because of that, the owners of Whidbey Island Race Week are moving it to Point Roberts next year.
The windmill at Windjammer Park, he said, was allowed to fall into disrepair and then city leaders tore it down. He said it was a piece of the city’s heritage.
“If they can spend $1 million on a kitchen,” he said, “they could have fixed the windmill.”
Besides his work as a legislative aide, Harman held management positions and an executive position during 20 years with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps. He was in the Navy for six years and was honorably discharged as an interior communications electrician, second class, and earned a bachelor degree from San Francisco State University.
Harman and his wife Ellen moved to Oak Harbor about 20 years ago and he’s kept busy. He’s an avid boater, a catcher of crab and shrimp, a member of the North Whidbey Island Sportsman’s Association, a scuba diver and an amateur radio operator.
Candidate filing week is May 13-17.