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UPDATE | Kwarsick announces candidacy in Langley mayor's race
Langley Planning Director Larry Kwarsick is running for mayor in the Village by the Sea.
Kwarsick announced his candidacy for the mayor's job in Langley on Wednesday. He said he would run as a part-time mayor, for part-time pay.
He also said he's opposed to changing the city's form of government from the council-mayor model to the council-manager setup, a proposition voters will decide in the August election.
"I want to give the community the option of basically structuring this mayor's position with the needs of the local community, and not the paradigm or organization of some other community," he said.
Kwarsick was hired by Mayor Paul Samuelson as Langley's planning director in January. Kwarsick said he told Samuelson early Wednesday he would be a candidate in the mayor's race.
Samuelson has not announced if he will seek reelection.
"Paul and I have been friends a long time, and I think it was well received by him," Kwarsick said.
Kwarsick, 63, moved to Whidbey Island in 1973 and has lived in Langley since 1987.
He has a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, and served a tour as an infantry officer in the Army before earning a master's degree in human resources management from Pepperdine University in 1978.
He was an assistant county engineer in Island County's road program for five years as well as the county's solid waste director from 1984 through 2001. He also served as the county's director of planning from 1989 to 1994, then took over as public works director in 1994.
He has been the town planner under contract for Coupeville since 2003. Kwarsick is also the owner of a land-use consultant firm called Sound Planning Services, and signed a one-year, $30,000 contract with Langley in January to run the city's planning department.
Kwarsick said he would continue to work for the city as he runs for mayor.
With the proposed change in Langley's government coming before voters, and the recent announcements by Councilwoman Fran Abel and Councilman Bob Waterman that they won't run for election, Kwarsick said it was a good time for him to help his hometown.
"I can sit back and watch all of this unfold or I can get myself very much involved in it," he said.
"I think it's a real critical time to step up," he said. "This is a community that I love and am very much a part of," Kwarsick said.
"I think I have leadership skills and government knowledge that can be a real benefit to the community," he said.
Kwarsick noted the council's expected decision next week to set the salary of the next mayor. A majority on the council have indicated they want the salary to stay near the amount currently set — $53,532, a pay level that's caused considerable controversy over the past year.
Kwarsick said he would like to see the salary pegged at $21,000, the amount set during Neil Colburn's last year as mayor, and also said he would not hire any additional staff if elected, or a replacement to run the planning department.