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Two candidates vie for council seat in Langley

A vacancy on the Langley City Council will be filled tonight at their meeting by one of two men.

Robert Gilman and Hal Seligson, both of Langley, applied for the position, which should have been filled in the November election. The council seat, formerly occupied by Ray Honerlah, remains empty after a mixup at the Island County Auditor’s Office pitted candidates for two separate council seats against one another in the elections.

Langley resident Kirk Gardner had announced his intention to run for the seat at an October election forum. Gardner said that instead of filing for Honerlah’s empty seat, he accidentally filed for recumbent Jim Recupero’s position.

After giving his backing to Recupero in the election, saying that he intended to apply for appointment afterwards, Gardner has since backed out of volunteering for the council due to recent health concerns.

“I’m still interested in what goes on in Langley,” Gardner said, responding to questions this week over his absence from the short list of applicants for the position.

One of the new applicants, Gilman — who has been a resident of Langley since 1996 — said he would use the opportunity to become a Langley City Councilman to give back to the community. However, he spoke to many Langley issues in describing his interest in city politics.

“I’m also interested in various land use issues,” Gilman said in an interview Tuesday.

Educated as an astrophysicist, Gilman nonetheless was a co-founder of the Context Institute in 1979, an organization dedicated to sustainable human culture. Gilman said he would use his the experience in sustainable development make decisions to maintain and enhance the character of Langley.

“It’s that I’m willing to do it,” Gilman said.

Seligson said he became interested in the position when outgoing Mayor Lloyd Furman had told him about it in October. After attending many city council meetings, Seligson said he found the city’s decision-making process to be stimulating.

“I’m very interested in Langley,” Seligson said.

Seligson — who bought property in Langley in 1996 — has lived in Langley since 2002. He has gotten involved in the community as a Friend of the Langley Library, a member of the Friends of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, as a volunteer for Hearts & Hammers, and a as part of the Langley Visioning Committee.

Seligson was a senior administrator at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City for 21 years. He said his experience in working with large groups and governmental organizations add to his qualifications, and he hopes to add “creative, analytical and imaginative” aspects to the Langley City Council.

During tonight’s city council meeting, both candidates will have an opportunity to address the city council members and present their positions on how they could be the best candidate for the open council seat. The council will interview each applicant and then go into executive session to discuss the applicants.

The council will appoint either Gilman or Seligson to the open position after that session. The new council member will serve until the next city election in November 2005.

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