The best candidates for Langley City Council are relatively easy to identify, although voting may take a little extra effort this year.
Gail Fleming is running as a write-in candidate, a rarity in Island County general elections. She, Harolynne Bobis and Rhonda Salerno are all strong, intelligent and well-spoken women who are knowledgeable about city government and have given their time to serve on citizen-led committees.
Fleming’s path to becoming a write-in candidate is unique. Scott Chaplin and Tony Gill filed to run for the position currently held by Peter Morton, who isn’t seeking reelection. But then Tim Callison resigned as mayor and the council appointed Chaplin to the position.
Chaplin is no longer seeking the council seat, but his name will still appear on the ballot along with Gill. Fleming stepped in to run as a write-in candidate.
Fleming has a shot at winning a place in county history. Longtime county officials can’t remember any candidate winning in the general election as a write-in. Sharon Franzen ran as a write-in for court clerk in the primary election in 2008, winning a place as a regular candidate on the general election ballot.
In state-level races, the Office of the Secretary of State is aware of only one candidate ever winning in the general election as a write-in.
History aside, the reasons to vote for Fleming are simple. She’s right for the position and represents city residents’ values. She served 12 years on the city’s Parks and Open Space Commission and seven on the Planning Advisory Board. She was a founding member of the citizen-led group, the Langley Critical Area Alliance, which aims to preserve and protect the city’s wetlands and bluffs.
Gill, on the other hand, hasn’t stepped up to help improve the city in any official capacity before now. He’s concerned about problems he sees with infrastructure but isn’t offering solutions. It’s valuable to have an outside voice on a council, but his son Thomas Gill already fulfills that role.
Bobis and her rival, Kay Kenneweg, are both good candidates with energy to get things done and compassion for the community. Kenneweg, a former teacher and classroom nurse, has many priorities, from government transparency to increasing entertainment activities to helping businesses.
Yet Bobis has the edge as a member of the city’s Dismantling Systemic Racism advisory group and an experienced staff member in city government, albeit in Seattle. She wants to help businesses pay a livable wage, promote youth activities and protect the environment.
If she wins, Bobis would be the first person of color on the Langley council. For a city that’s made significant efforts to promote equality, it’s important to have a person of color offering her voice in a leadership position.
Salerno is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Dominique Emerson, who isn’t seeking reelection. As the chairperson of the Planning Advisory Board and a member of the Climate Crisis Action Committee, she’s informed, active and engaged. Langley will be lucky to have her.