Langley Councilman Gilman resigns from city council

LANGLEY — Amid continued criticism of his support of Proposition 1, Langley City Councilman Robert Gilman abruptly resigned Monday evening.

Gilman, the only one of five council members who support Prop. 1, said recent claims that he was seeking greater power was a main reason for his stepping down.

With Prop. 1 on the Primary Election ballot, Langley voters will decide in two weeks if they want to keep their elected mayor or have a hired manager run city hall, with a mayor selected by the council from its ranks. That's led some to speculate that Gilman was supporting the proposal to gain greater influence over the administrative operations of the city.

Gilman said he was stepping now to devote time to other things in his life, and said his departure was not related to his relationship with Mayor Paul Samuelson, which has noticeably soured in recent months.

"A number of things have happened in recent months that have brought the question of how long to stay on the council up front-and-center for me," Gilman said.

"First, the demands in my personal life have increased. Second, there has developed among some in the community a focus on me as a personality in a way that I feel has become a distraction from the real issues that the community faces."

Gilman said two events in the past few days "have served as a tipping point."

"The candidates forum on Thursday evening gave me the strong, welcome sense that, one way or another, the council is going to get reinvigorated with fresh energy and commitment. I'm very pleased to see this and confident that the torch can be well passed to a new generation of council members.

"Second, Ron Kasprisin's letter to the editor in Saturday's [South Whidbey Record] made public the accusation that the purpose behind Proposition 1 was to advance 'some personal agenda' on my part," Gilman said.

"Normally, I'm content to ignore such letters, but I've heard second hand that there was enough 'buzz' in the community that Prop. 1 was based on some such personal agenda, or was based on a power struggle between Paul and me, that I felt needed to set the record straight."

Gilman said his support of Prop. 1 because Langley's present form of government was not working well.

"My support for Prop. 1 is based on my seven and a half years of experience with the dysfunctions of the present form, which hasn't managed to keep its systems up-to-date and running well enough even in good times," he said.

"Certainly, there is good work that has been done but, more often than I would like, I have seen talented, capable people - electeds, staff and volunteers - bring their good will into city government only to get ground down, ill-used and frustrated by the systems we now have or lack. In the process, important community issues simply haven't been attended to," Gilman said.

Gilman said the changing times means Langley needs to take a new approach at city hall.

"We are headed into stormy waters on a boat with frayed rope, torn sails and growing rust spots," Gilman said. "If we are to thrive as a community, we need the best city government we can get. Based on my experience, I doubt that what we have not will be up to the task, and in any case I am convinced that we would do better as a community with a council-manager form of government."

Gilman said his support of Prop. 1 was "never about my personal power."

He added that he was resigning now so his council seat could be on the November ballot.

Gilman has been on the council since 2004. His resignation was to take effect at the end of Monday night's council meeting.


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