First off, let me offer my formal and public congratulations to the newly elected members of Oak Harbor city council. With half of the council turning over, there is an expectation that the tone and tenor of the council will be changing.
Let me also offer my thanks to the outgoing members. This may be one of the few times you hear the words “thank you” during your service. We often chastise, critique or dissect everything public servants say, do and in some cases don’t do. This isn’t exclusive to the media; the public by and large tend to follow the same behavior. We shift our disapproval to individuals because it’s easier to put names and faces to our problems than blame the process. We want our leaders to lead us, but what we are in need of are solution-oriented people in charge at the highest levels who spark change and aspire to be better.
I have a personal wish list for the collective incoming. I would love to see greater transparency and accountability. I would like to see you all speak truth to power, holding our city administrator and mayor accountable when it’s called for. Also be willing to accept the same truth when it’s being spoken to you. I welcome each of you to communicate with the Whidbey News Group staff to vocalize your vision, talk about the state of the city and hold conversations around tough questions when they arise. The last thing our city leadership can afford is a repeat of the overruns and unchecked spending that happened with the development of the sewage treatment plant.
Now I admit I am a newcomer to the area and am still learning the nuance of public service on the island. I haven’t the long tenure to speak to past specifics, but far too often elected officials get stuck in a loop of what-if’s and they stop being the promoter of change touted during the election season.
Dan Evans, Bryan Stucky, Shane Hoffmire, how will you lead Oak Harbor into the future? Can you seize this invigoration and fuel the breeze of change that is starting to blow? Can you grab hold and be the leaders we need? I offer my time, energy and space in this column when it’s appropriate to help drive that change. I am committed to keeping an open mind and ear to each of you.
With that being said, please know we will be here, advocating for the public and helping hold our elected leaders accountable. Speaking truth to power, as always.