Transit board member quits, urges others to follow suit

Jim Campbell resigned from the embattled Island Transit board last week and urged his colleagues to follow suit.

The Oak Harbor councilman was on vacation for about six weeks and missed the drama of Martha Rose leaving as director, as well as the tussles between board members and Campbell’s temporary replacement, Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley.

Sweeping change on the Island Transit board seems unlikely, however. Board members are in the midst of searching for an interim director as the chairman of the board, Bob Clay, spends his days at Island Transit as the acting director.

Clay said this week that he has no intention of resigning.

“I’m appointed by the Coupeville Town Council and the Coupeville mayor,” he said. “The Oak Harbor council has no say in who represents Coupeville.”

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said she’s not quitting the board.

“I’m planning on addressing the shortfalls that have been identified and moving forward,” she said.

She said the board has the opportunity to build a stronger agency.

Likewise, Langley Councilman Jim Sundberg said the agency is back on the path to sustainability and will have a reserve balance of $500,000 by the end of the year. He said he wants to stay on because he has the experience and knowledge necessary for the future.

Island Transit has been in the spotlight over the last few months because of financial problems that led to layoffs and cuts in bus routes, including the end of Saturday service.

Campbell said during the Oak Harbor City Council meeting Tuesday that he was comfortable with Rose leaving, but that the entire board should also go. He said he hopes he was only the first to resign.

“I’m not comfortable at this point that everything we need to do has been done,” he said. “I believe there’s one more major step and tonight I want to kick that step off.”

Campbell said he wanted Dudley to continue as his replacement. The city council agreed and named the mayor as the city’s representative on the board until the end of the year.

In an interview, Campbell said the board members were just as culpable in the mistakes made as Rose.

“If we fired her, we should fire ourselves,” he said.

Island Transit is overseen by a board of five, consisting of two county commissioners and a representative from Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley.

Dudley said he’s glad to be back on the board and wants to move forward quickly with finding both an interim and permanent director, as well as creating a strategic plan to go forward.