Sound Off: Oak Harbor deserves better on the city council

Dear Editor:

This year the citizens of Oak Harbor have the opportunity to improve the leadership we have on the City Council greatly. Instead of reelecting Councilmember Joel Servatius, we can vote for Shane Hoffmire.

These two candidates could not be further apart in how they approach their decision making and their ability to be held accountable for those decisions. We don’t have to put up with a Councilmember like Joel Servatius who continues to raise our property taxes at every opportunity or continues to raise our utility rates so significantly that we now pay one of the highest utility rates in the State of Washington. Joel Servatius should not be rewarded with another term after his lack of oversight with cost the overruns with our wastewater treatment plant.

As the previous mayor of Oak Harbor, I witnessed Joel Servatius infringe on one of our citizen’s constitutional rights during a City Council meeting. I also observed him as he tried to ban hats from being worn in the City Council chambers. I continued to see his disregard for Washington’s Open Public Meeting Act and time and time again he continued to vote to have substantial tax dollars go to the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce while he was president of the chamber, which is obviously a conflict of interest.

When given the opportunity to reduce his pay, he did the opposite and increased it. When given the opportunity to reduce his benefits, he maintained his benefits that are for full time employees even though a councilmember is a part-time position.

When I first took office as mayor, I immediately started televising all four of our City Council’s Standing Committee meetings. Joel Servatius did not like this as it educated our citizens on what the City Council was discussing and he quickly disbanded those meetings so he would not be held accountable.

I witnessed him push for the idea of having our public comment period from the beginning of the City Council meetings to the end of the meetings since he knew that citizens would not stick around for several hours to finally be given their three minutes to comment on something that he had no desire to hear. Even recently, when he hears from citizens who overwhelmingly disapprove of an art sculpture, he chooses to do it anyway.

Those that have tried to get in touch with their City Councilmember Joel Servatius are met with virtually no response from him by phone or email.

Joel Servatius can not run away from his actions and voting record on Oak Harbor’s City Council or his lack of leadership on Oak Harbor’s Chamber of Commerce and its significant decline in membership with him at the helm.

Oak Harbor deserves better and can not afford another four years of Joel Servatius. Those that know Shane Hoffmire know that he is the much better candidate and someone that will actually listen to those he represents. I look forward to voting for Shane Hoffmire and a much brighter future for Oak Harbor.

Scott Dudley

Oak Harbor