In Our Opinion: Whidbey needs plenty of candidates for local offices

The time has come. Those in the Whidbey Island community who’ve contemplated running for office, those who are upset about local government decisions, those who claim they know better, those who are smart, ethical and responsible — it’s time. Your community needs you to step up and throw your hat into the swirling waters of local government.

November’s ballot has the potential for momentum changes in cities, schools and the hospital district, possibly paving the way to an uncharted future. Or it could lead to the same-old land of status quo.

Potential candidates have plenty of positions to choose from. A total of 68, in fact. Nonpartisan, local government positions are on the ballot in odd years. Many of the positions are for smaller boards, like sewer and water districts, but other are a bit more vital. This year, all of the mayors and enough council members will appear on the ballot in various municipalities that significant change in leadership could result.

In a strange twist of fate, all of the positions on the Oak Harbor School Board will be on the ballot, setting up the unprecedented possibility — however unlikely — that the board could be entirely new next year. At least one incumbent board member isn’t seeking reelection.

It’s a rare situation. The number of positions on the ballot are supposed to be staggered — three this year and two in 2025 — but those two school board members resigned early. Under law, the position has to be on the ballot in the next eligible year, which is this year.

In fact, seven people on school boards, the hospital board, port districts and city councils quit in the last year.

In addition to Oak Harbor, positions for two Coupeville school board members and three on South Whidbey will be on the ballot.

It’s been a slow start to what should be a red-hot election season. Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns isn’t seeking reelection this year, but so far only Councilmember Shane Hoffmire has announced his intentions for the office. In past years, mayoral candidates started campaigning much earlier.

Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of a lack of interest in the off-year election.

Langley Mayor Scott Chaplin, who was appointed, said he hasn’t decided whether he will run. Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes hasn’t said either way. The seats of two appointed and one elected member of the public hospital board will also be on the ballot.

No position should go unchallenged. It’s not good for democracy and it’s not good for local government. It’s the level of government where the rubber meets the road, where government has the most direct impact on citizens.

Think it over. Candidate filing week is just around the corner, May 15-19.

Your community needs you.