Sparkman winning big in Langley council race

Incumbent Russell Sparkman had a big lead over political newcomer Thomas Gill for a four-year term on the Langley City Council in returns released on Tuesday night.

It was Sparkman's first try for the post after having been appointed this past year to fill the seat on the five-member council vacated by Neil Colburn.

Sparkman had 66 percent of the vote, or 166, to Gill's 33 percent, or 85.

Also in the balloting, city council members Rene Neff and Robert Gilman, who were unopposed, are being re-elected to new four-year terms.

The Sparkman-Gill campaign featured a lively discourse on growth, diversity and identity in the seaside city of 1,100, with Sparkman pushing economic innovation in the Internet age, and Gill warning of a South Whidbey that could come to look like Mercer Island.

Sparkman, 50, has lived on South Whidbey since 2001 and in Langley since 2002. He has been self-employed or the head of his own corporation since 1993, and currently operates his Internet consulting company Fusionspark Media from his home.

He got his start in city politics with an appointment to the Planning Advisory Board, where he said he cultivated a taste for the political process.

He said the key for the city's future is economic diversity, and that Langley should emphasize Langley's strong arts, culture and educational components.

Gill, 25, a Whidbey Telecom tech-support agent, is a South Whidbey native and 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School.

Despite his political inexperience, Gill said during the campaign that he was running for city council because he loves Langley and wants to help shape its future.

He said Langley should act like a city and encourage a mixed-use approach to land to increase the population and widen the tax base.

This should be done without extending the city's boundaries, so as to preserve the rest of the South End's rural character, he added.

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