Beth Munns ends 16 years on Oak Harbor City Council

Munns is being replaced by Chris Wiegenstein, who won against Andy Plumlee.

After 16 years of service, Beth Munns and her colorful blazers are bidding adieu to the Oak Harbor City Council, with her last official day on the board being Sunday, Dec. 31.

Her successor, Chris Wiegenstein, won the election against Andy Plumlee and will take the Position 2 seat on Jan. 1, 2024.

“I’ve served and been a servant and now someone else needs to step up,” Munns said in an interview.

She had hoped to be on the board by the time the Angel de la Creatividad — donated to the city by sculptor Sebastián — was installed, as it was expected to be put in Flintstone Park at the end of October, but the permitting process has been taking some time. Still, she intends to be there to see its installation as a regular citizen.

Among the board’s accomplishments that Munns is proud of, she mentioned the boardwalk that connects Windjammer Park and Flintstone Park, the Clean Water Facility and the development of a system that updates residents on what streets will be repaired.

Munns said the city needs to focus on improving the local health care resources, as older people in need of care may not want or be able to cross Deception Pass, despite the fact some specialty care is only provided on the mainland.

She also emphasized the need for affordable housing in the city. As a member of the board and co-president of the Navy League, she is familiar with the challenges of finding a place to live for both civilians and sailors.

“When we talk to the base, it’s amazing how many sailors can’t find housing here in town,” she said.

She hopes the city will build a new pier, which she believes would increase foot traffic downtown. She also hopes that Oak Harbor will remain a “tree city” despite the projected population growth.

Munns has met some challenges during her time on the board, like finding a work-life balance, but most notably, an alleged threat she made to Blaine Oborn in June 2022, which led to the city council voting to strip her of her mayor pro tempore title.

Munns had allegedly told Oborn that he and Human Resources Department Director Emma House would be hit or slapped if they attended the memorial service of a city employee.

An investigation determined that Munn’s behavior was not criminal as the comment was general in nature and not a specific threat.

“I was sad and angry to be accused of that when it was all untrue,” she said. Still, the investigation found that her conduct represented a breach of duty of an elected official.

Munns expressed her gratitude to the staff and community members who supported her during that time.

Over a year has gone by, and now she looks forward to spending more time with her husband, Larry, and her granddaughter who recently moved to the island. She will also have more time to dedicate to community service, such as serving as the president of the North Whidbey Help House Food Bank — she has been on the board since 1996 — and serving on the board of directors of Island Thrift.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Munns grew up admiring her parents as they volunteered and helped their neighbors. Feeling inspired, she ran for student council in high school and ran as the faculty liaison at Stephens College in Missouri, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and certification for art education.

In 2007, she decided to put her name on the ballot to represent both the civilians and the Navy community that make up Oak Harbor, as her husband was formerly the commander of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. At the time, she didn’t expect she was going to serve one of the longest terms on the board — 16 years.

“It was an honor,” she said. “I truly enjoyed serving.”