EDITORIAL | Gianni, Gordon, Hezel are the right choices

General election ballots were mailed out Wednesday and the South Whidbey Record’s votes are in.

Beginning with the toughest endorsement of this November’s contested races, Rocco Gianni should be the next member of the South Whidbey School Board. A long-time teacher with 41 years of experience, the vast majority of which were spent in this community, he has the professional know-how, excitement and connection with students to make a valuable and lasting contribution.

Betty Bond is an excellent candidate as well. Along with being extraordinarily qualified, she genuinely cares about education and those are qualities that should be admired. But she is still a newcomer to South Whidbey and when compared to another candidate that is equally qualified, in different ways, the choice is simple.

This endorsement, however, is not a license to obstructionism. Gianni’s greatest strength, his passion, is perhaps his greatest shortcoming as well. Listen to the arguments, weigh them carefully and be flexible. Tough decisions are likely ahead and South Whidbey deserves a candidate who is willing, when needed, to set aside emotion and do what’s best for students.

In the race for Port of South Whidbey commissioner, incumbent Curt Gordon deserves another six years. As a contractor and long-time elected official with past experience in public works projects, he is uniquely qualified to continue the port’s ongoing South Whidbey Harbor expansion effort. It’s been a tough project but one worth pursuing.

This is the third time Ed Jenkins has challenged Gordon for a public office. He lost this same race to Gordon in 2009. But instead of spending the intervening years as a port volunteer and looking for ways to help, he’s put his energy into being a continued obstacle and sharp critic, particularly of the marina project. Jenkins went so far as to try and hamstring the effort last year by filing a lawsuit in Superior Court. The case was dismissed, but he remains adamant that the port is charging ahead blindly. Perhaps so, and Gordon would do well to consider some of his ideas, such as developing a future marketing plan. But Jenkins’ demeanor and his approach to disagreement cast serious doubt on his ability to work with others.

Also, Jenkins indicated at a recent forum that Clinton — by the ferry terminal — is beyond saving. A port’s primary purpose is to foster economic development and any candidate who has already abandoned the area they are asking to represent is not the right person for the job.

For South Whidbey Parks and Recreation, both candidates have their strengths and weaknesses but the job should go to Bob Hezel. He is young, 32, but he is from South Whidbey and can serve a special role on the board as liaison to younger generations. Captn Blynd has expressed his desire to continue attending board meetings and to volunteer with the district even if he’s not elected. He should. Blynd has some good ideas and the district could benefit from his willingness to serve.

Finally, vote ‘Yes” on Whidbey General Hospital’s $50 million expansion bond. Critics are quick to denounce the measure, saying it’s too much for a second-rate hospital. But trying to defeat a measure that is designed to address that very complaint is an argument that simply doesn’t hold water. Also, until the community decides collectively that it no longer wants its own public hospital, investing in the facility to keep it consistent with modern standards is both reasonable and prudent.

While these endorsements are sure to have some shaking their heads in approval and others fuming in disgust, the South Whidbey Record would like to thank all those who stepped forward to participate in this election. Running for office is frightening and difficult. Candidates make their lives public and open themselves to fierce scrutiny and sometimes merciless ridicule, all out of a desire to serve their communities.

We won’t all agree on who is best for each job, but their courage and their wish to make a positive difference in our lives is something we can all stand behind.

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