Survey says: Jonathon Moses offers views on Langley issues

Jonathon Moses, candidate for Langley City Council Position Four. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Jonathon Moses, candidate for Langley City Council Position Four.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

The Record is surveying candidates for the city council in the 2011 election. Jonathon Moses responds to the Record's candidate survey with his take on hearing examiner appeals, the amount of time he'll devote to council work, an ethics ordinance and more.

Jonathon Moses Bio

First-time candidate. Seeking election to Position 4 (four-year term) against R. Bruce Allen and Thomas E. Gill. The top two will advance to the General Election in November.

Age: 49

Education: MA and Ph.D in political science from UCLA; BA in Russian/E. European Studies, University of Washington.

Occupation: Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Volunteer work: Previously on the Board of Directors for the Center for Rural Studies.

Campaign website: No website, but interested voters are welcome to contact the candidate directly to discuss any of the issues in more detail; Jonathon Moses can be reached at


Survey Questions

What specific ideas do you have for improving Langley's economy?

"I think it is important to broaden Langley’s economic foundation in a way that can complement our existing demographic and retail base. This means trying to encourage well-paying, year-round, jobs that can attract younger families. But the city council is limited in the number of tools it has at its disposal. This means that we need to use what few tools we have more effectively.

In particular, we need to build on the solid foundation already provided by the comprehensive plan, which recognizes the potential we have in the education, arts and health sectors. To this I would add the need to market the attractiveness of Langley to telecommuters. This means recognizing that our strongest assets when attracting investors are our beautiful natural environment and our human capital (skills).  These assets need to be protected and nourished in order to attract the right type of growth in our community.

The next step is to ensure that the municipal code does not hinder appropriate development — to ensure that zoning, licensing and fee structures do not inhibit the investments that can create good jobs in our community.

Finally, we need to work more actively with various partners to attract this sort of economic growth into our community. This means taking a stronger leadership role in the county’s Economic Development Council, to generate greater economic activity in the Langley environs.  We also need to work hand-in-hand with the Port of South Whidbey, the South Whidbey School District and strategically-located property owners, as well as the chamber of commerce, and volunteer organizations in the community, to develop a broad-based strategy for attracting investments."

Should decisions of Langley's hearing examiner be subject to appeal to the city council?

"The city council should not abdicate the responsibilities granted to it by its constituents to a non-elected official, such as the hearing examiner. I understand that the existing council does not feel competent to make decisions that affect the local community, and it wishes to minimize the scope of the community’s influence on decision-making. But policy that is consistent with law is not black and white — there are many shades of grey that remain, and it is important that elected officials choose the proper shade in light of the community’s best interest. I would prefer that Langley elects a council that feels comfortable making decisions on its behalf, and uses the hearing examiner as an instrument for providing expert legal advice, upon which the council can make the final decision.

In short, I believe that the citizens of our community have a right to appeal to their elected peers when they ask for a variance (for example), and should not be forced to pay for the services of a hearing examiner, or the burden of appealing to the Superior Court.

Unless the current salary structure for the mayor is changed, the next elected mayor in Langley will be paid an annual salary of $53,000, which cannot be lowered during the mayor's four-year term. Should the city council revisit the issue of the mayor's salary?

How much should the mayor be paid annually?

"The question assumes that Proposition 1 will fail. I think that Langley is best served by a full-time mayor or manager, as the management tasks of the existing mayor are significant. As a consequence, I believe that the current candidate for mayor is fooling himself (or the voters) when he suggests that he can tackle the job part time. I have studied economics long enough to know that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and experience teaches me that you get what you pay for. If we elect a part-time mayor, we can expect part-time governance and should pay part-time compensation. But doing so will mean putting off important issues for later, and focusing on priorities around the interests of the part-time mayor.

My preference would be to have an elected mayor position in a council-manager form of government, where we pay the professional manager a good salary to run the store, while our mayor spends his time representing the community’s best interest on a salary that is line with what the council receives."

How many hours a week do you expect to devote your work on the council?

"On average, 15."

Langley's Parks and Open Space Commission has pushed for a network of walking trails through Langley, and there has also been support for biking lanes in the village. Which should be a greater priority for the city — installing sidewalks in neighborhoods that currently lack sidewalks, or establishing new walking trails and bike lanes?

"Assuming that the costs are equivalent, I would prioritize the establishment of new walking trails and bike lanes."

During the council's review of the 2011 budget, one council member said the city should consider contracting out for police services. Should Langley contract with Island County to provide police services, and decommission its police department?

"The first step would be to conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis, to see how much money we could expect to save by contracting out police services, and what kind of degradation in service (if any) we can expect. Such an evaluation should consider the experiences of similarly-sized communities. If the savings are significant, and the decline is service is acceptable, then the city should consider contracting out the police services. We should also revisit the present mutual assistance agreement between the police department and the Island County Sheriff.

Attendance at council meetings has been an issue over the past year. How many council meetings do you think you will not attend in person?

"This is difficult to predict, but I expect to miss at most five out of the 24 regularly scheduled council meetings because of illness and job/family obligations."

Should building heights be increased where water views will not be impacted?

"Not as a general rule; perhaps under very limited circumstances. We don’t need a skyscraper built next door to a single-story home. We must preserve Langley’s village atmosphere and its viewscape."

Does the city need an ethics ordinance/policy that covers elected/appointed city officials?

"I do not think the city should be regulating every facet of public life. It is better that we use common sense and public pressure - rather than legislation – to regulate ethical behavior. Having said this, a policy that describes what represents a real or potential conflict of interest (and how to avoid such) may be beneficial."

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