Colburn steps down from Langley council
June 25, 2008 · Updated 10:09 AM
LANGLEY His health is fine. In fact, hes been working out.
Mayor Neil Colburn said hes sick, though, sick of the sniping thats been filling an online chat room about his efforts to lead Langley.
Colburn announced at the close of Wednesdays council meeting that he was resigning from his new position as city councilman just as soon as his new term starts on Jan. 1. Colburn was elected to the position after running unopposed in the November election.
It is with mixed emotions that I now tender my resignation from Position 2, Colburn told the council.
Im not ruling out running again someday, however, he added with a small smile.
Colburn cited his desire to focus his efforts on his restaurant, the Clover Patch Café.
The resignation caught almost everyone by surprise.
I was very surprised, Clerk- Treasurer Debbie Mahler said. I had just sworn him in!
Colburn kept his decision close to the vest, deciding only in the last few weeks to quit.
I didnt want it to affect discussions at our meeting or play any role in votes on issues, he said.
Colburn also said he consulted with the county auditor who advised him to take the oath, then announce his resignation.
Colburn served as councilman for 14 years and has been mayor of the Village by the Sea for the past four years. He also mentioned the recent resignation of Rick Hill, the citys public works director, and the upcoming departure of City Administrator Walt Blackford.
With Rick, Walt and I leaving, theres a loss of institutional memory, but its time for new blood, Colburn said.
On Thursday, Colburn expanded on his reasons for leaving.
Im just turning 60 but I feel like a dinosaur after so many years, Colburn said.
And Ive come to feel my shoot-from-the-hip style has become part of the problem, not the solution. I love this city Im a Langleyphile and demonstrated that through my 18 years of service.
He added that the heated council debates and repeated personal attacks on the Langley Community Forum Website have taken a toll.
Its amazing how so many people dont know the difference between representative democracy and direct democracy, he said. Without the former, there would be chaos.
Councilman Bob Waterman was taken by surprise at the announcement.
Im sad that Neil wont be on the council, Waterman said.
I enjoyed working with him as mayor. Its true hes been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism the last few months, but I understand his family and business need his attention.
Another key factor in his decision is the time involved.
Colburn said that when he first took office, councilmen typically worked on government issues about five hours a week.
Now its up to 20 or 30 hours and I want to spend more time with my family and running my business, he added. And Ive re-discovered the value of exercise.
Hes proud of his victory in the fall fitness exercise contest held recently at Island Athletic Club in Freeland.
Bet you didnt know I was an aerobics instructor 20 years ago, he said.
Colburn noted that some residents have never accepted him as a pragmatist.
Ive always tried to take a business, not a political, approach to managing city hall, he said. It really has been a great privilege serving the folks of Langley.
The city council has 90 days from Jan. 1 to decide on a replacement.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.