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Mayoral candidates for Langley fixed at 5

Hal Seligson, pictured here acting as Langley’s mayor pro tem, will seek the vacant mayor position of the Village by the Sea.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Hal Seligson, pictured here acting as Langley’s mayor pro tem, will seek the vacant mayor position of the Village by the Sea.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Five people have applied for the vacant Langley mayor position and the procedure to appoint one has been changed to treat applicants from the city council more like the others.

The application deadline was Thursday and the final one to come in was from Fred McCarthy, a retired superintendent of the South Whidbey School District.

Previous applicants included City Council members Bruce Allen and Hal Seligson, who has been head of government as mayor pro tem since Larry Kwarsick resigned last month.

Also in the running for mayor are Edwin Anderson, a retired GTE supervisor, software engineer and web applications developer; and Thomas Gill, who spent two years on the city’s Planning Advisory Board and is its volunteer “manager of information technology.” He works for Whidbey Telecom.

The procedure to interview the candidates has changed after inquiries by The South Whidbey Record following Seligson’ statement that he and fellow Councilman Allen could participate in the interview process as council members and vote for themselves if they wanted. He cited City Attorney Bruce Disend as the source of the advice.

Later in the week, the process changed. The city’s legal firm did not return a call from the Record, but Clerk/Treasurer Debbie Mahler announced a new approach late Thursday afternoon.

“After speaking with out municipal attorney and an attorney at Municipal Research & Services, I have advised Council that the members who are applying for the position should not vote for themselves and should recuse themselves, leave the Council table and join the other applicants for the interview and selection process,” Mahler wrote in an email to the Record.

With two council members in the audience, that leaves Councilman Jim Sundberg to “probably be chairing the meeting,” Mahler added. Also sitting at the council table will be Councilwoman Rene Neff and Councilman Doug Allderdice.

Seligson said Friday morning that the procedure was made to make the process as public as possible. “We agreed to err on the side of being fully open,” he said.

The position pays $53,000 annually plus benefits, but the new mayor will have to face the voters in November. If voters choose someone else, the appointed mayor will step down when the election is certified a few weeks after the election.

Interviews are slated to be held Tuesday, Feb. 19. City council meetings start at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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