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With this vow, I thee challenge | Langley couple applies for Jerome’s soon-to-be vacant city council seat

Tim Callison and Robin Black, married for two years, are both seeking the appointment for a single Langley City Council seat. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Tim Callison and Robin Black, married for two years, are both seeking the appointment for a single Langley City Council seat.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

A marriage will be playfully and publicly tested this summer.

Husband and wife Robin Black and Tim Callison have each applied for the soon-to-be vacant Langley City Council seat currently occupied by Margot Jerome. Win or lose, they each said they would be happy if the other was appointed by the council to fill Jerome’s post.

“We really are fine with either one of us getting it,” Black said.

Both are business owners. Black runs Connects Marketing Group as its CEO and has lived in Langley for a decade, though her family has long had South Whidbey ties with a Saratoga-area home. Callison came to Langley, he said, for love, and to be with Black after they were married two years ago.

Now they’re ready to jump into the fray of setting policy for the city.

“We’ve been talking about it since it was first announced,” Callison said. “Since I’m semi-retired, Robin thought I had time on my hands.”

Similar to Jerome, who is leaving the city to be with her husband in North Carolina, Black and Callison said they wanted to be city council members who could make people feel like they were intently listened to and heard.

When they discussed why they wanted the position and why they were a good choice, each could not help but praise the other.

“I think she’s equally qualified,” Callison said of Black. “She’s personable, intelligent.”

At the top of their joint and individual hope for Langley is the need to foster growth in its residential population and business district while carefully guarding its “small-town atmosphere.”

“It’s a tightrope walk,” Black said. “You want the town to grow without losing its quaintness.”

They’re a couple who mainly work from home — the very type of “knowledge worker” Mayor Fred McCarthy is hoping to draw more of into the city. Both Black and Callison said their business experience and personal characteristics would add a different and helpful voice to the council. Black described herself as an “activator” who takes a plan and sees it through, while Callison called himself a “creator” who crafts an idea.

They’re also a couple that enjoys the perks of living in Langley. They enjoy walking into town to see a movie at the Clyde Theatre, to have dinner at Village Pizzeria or a drink at Mo’s Pub & Eatery, just down the hill from their Second Street home that will be featured in the upcoming Whidbey Island Garden Tour. 

They say it’s hard to imagine the vetting process of a city council appointment creating a wedge between them. They often work from home together — successfully — and then there’s a wedding vow they uphold each and every day to share a dance. Thursday was no exception, as just prior to their interview with The Record, they fulfilled that promise to the tune of old jazz and blues, which was still playing from a speaker in their living room.

One of their hopes, if either is appointed, is to see a city parking plan in the summer months. As residents close to downtown, they said they know parking space becomes a premium, and hoped to see an expanded shuttle/cart service to the Catholic church.

“We want to drive traffic and people here, but not crowds,” Black said

Bringing people to the city for its views and cultural events like Choochokam and DjangoFest Northwest creates experiences, Black said, and that will bring people back.

“I loved when they closed the street for the Clyde’s anniversary, for the street dances. How cool is that?” Black said. “There’s no better place than Whidbey Island to experience life.”

Positive experiences like those can attract people to live here, Callison said. As a gearhead who has worked on building a hot rod from the ground up the past four months, he liked the idea of a shared space, light industrial zone, something the city has worked on for years. Grouping similar industries can create a place for people to see art and craft first-hand.

“If we don’t start attracting young families, South Whidbey is going to get grayer and grayer,” he said.

Neither have previously run for a publicly elected position. Each said that if appointed, they would run for the city council seat in the upcoming election and the other would not enter the race.

Though the pending appointment process will be sure to have an air of contention for the husband and wife, win or lose, they will remain committed to the city and each other.

“I’m very competitive, but I’m fiercely competitive of my husband too,” Black said.

 

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