Seligson, Allderdice forego council election run

Fred McCarthy adds his paperwork to the Island County Auditor’s stack. He will seek Langley’s vote as its mayor after being appointed by the city council in February.  - Justin Burnett / The Record
Fred McCarthy adds his paperwork to the Island County Auditor’s stack. He will seek Langley’s vote as its mayor after being appointed by the city council in February.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Langley City Council has a couple of seats to fill come November.

Councilmen Hal Seligson and Doug Allderdice elected to keep their names from the process.

Seligson served the city two years. Allderdice filled out Robert Gillman’s vacated seat in September 2011.

Seligson decided not to seek election for his council position, nor run for mayor. Serving as acting mayor after Mayor Larry Kwarsick resigned, Seligson was passed over in favor of Fred McCarthy when the council chose a new mayor. He decided to get involved in Langley life in other ways.

“I think it is actually time to retire,” Seligson said. “I came here 10 years ago to retire. It’s time to do that now.”

His wife Marilee looks forward to more time with her husband.

“In the last year, especially during the difficult time with Larry, he sometimes put in 11 hour days,” she said.

However, he has no regrets and was glad to serve his community.

“I have accomplished a number of worthwhile things,” he said, highlighting the implementation of an ethics committee that sets policies for city officials and employees.

“I will remain an active member of the community, just in an unofficial way,” he said.

Seligson was appointed to the council in December 2010 to replace Russell Sparkman. He was elected in November 2011. Seligson took his seat as a reformer who aimed for open and transparent government. He set out to introduce legislation that would bring about change, something that happened rather seldom as the mayor or staff usually pushed policy forward.

In his first year in office he deferred the $50 monthly stipend council members receive for their service and wanted it put toward technologies that would provide more access to local government.

Seligson and his wife Marilee were among the leaders of the Second Street trees project and several other endeavors.

“I really urge people to put in for the position,” Seligson said. “I especially urge younger people and women to step up.”

Langley Councilwoman Rene Neff (legally Lorene Neff) filed for re-election Monday morning.

Whatever the council makeup is next year, Langley looks like it will have a mayor. Fred McCarthy, the council-appointed mayor, filed his papers early Monday morning.

“It’s been everything I hoped it would be,” McCarthy said of his two months in office.

Unlike his predecessor, Larry Kwarsick, McCarthy will keep the mayor’s full $53,000 salary. Running the city of 1,200 people is a full-time job, McCarthy said, and the compensation matches the work.

“The salary, as it currently is, is appropriate,” McCarthy said. “It’s a full-time job. It takes your focus to do a quality job at it.”

Should Langley residents elect to keep him in office, McCarthy eyes the redevelopment of Second Street as a project to push forward.

Working closely with the city, the Port of South Whidbey may retain its leader, Port President Curt Gordon. The longtime South Whidbey resident will seek only his second full term as commissioner with the port district. In his first four years, Gordon presided over the expansion of the South Whidbey Harbor, commonly called the Langley marina.

Other ideas proposed by Gordon are overnight parking in Mukilteo and shuttle service from Clinton around South Whidbey Island.

“Getting people over here without piling cars along the highway,” Gordon said. “I’m much more focused on trying to move people on and off the island with less cars.”

School board limbo

Getting families to move here was part of the struggle of Jill Engstrom, who will not seek re-election to the school board. The South Whidbey School District’s enrollment plummeted the past decade, during which Engstrom served the board six years.

Combined with her stalled efforts at change, including the reversed consolidation effort, Engstrom decided it was time to leave the board and her 16-year involvement in the schools as a parent, PTA officer and school board member.

“There isn’t any movement in the realistic future that is coming upon us,” Engstrom said. “The status quo seems to be pervasive.”

As of May 13, three candidates filed papers for Engstrom’s seat: Miriam Coates, Betty Bond and Rocco Gianni.

Fred O’Neal was undecided if he’d run. He sought a seat with the state school board, possibly with one of the many vacancies in the Educational Service District.

After a couple of stints that started in the 1990s, O’Neal won’t have an answer until the end of the week when the filing period ends.

“I’m torn,” O’Neal said. “I’ve indicated that I’m ready to hang it up. I’m going to think about it all week.”

Fire protection on South Whidbey will have a familiar voice heralding emergency response needs and activities. Kenon Simmons, whose family is a mainstay within South Whidbey Fire/EMS, will seek election to another term. In the past year, he defended and successfully lobbied for the district’s 15-cent maintenance and operations levy increase.

“I want to continue to live within our means,” Simmons said.

The filing period for various local offices ends Friday, May 17, at 4 p.m. at the Island County Auditor’s Office in Coupeville. To file electronically go to and select “Elections.” For information call 360-679-7366.

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