The results of the November general election could dramatically change the fabric of local governance and politics on Whidbey Island.
A total of at least 68 elected positions will be on the ballot, including the three mayors and all of the seats on the Oak Harbor School Board. Island County Elections Supervisor Michele Reagan said it’s unusual situation created by two board members resigning.
“The offices on the ballot are staggered so, as a rule, there’s not the potential for an entire board to change,” she said.
The candidate filing period is just six weeks away, May 15-19, and only two people as of Monday have filed with the Public Disclosure Commission for any of the major local government positions on Whidbey.
Oak Harbor Councilmember Tara Hizon filed for reelection in February while Councilmember Shane Hoffmire filed for mayor last week. Some people in the elected offices, however, told the newspaper that they plan to run, while plenty of others remain unsure.
There have been seven resignations of elected officials in the last two years in municipal, school and port positions.
When a local elected official quits before the term expires, the other members of the elected board appoint a replacement and the position appears on the ballot in the first general election the district is eligible to take part in, Reagan explained. Nonpartisan local government positions are only on the ballot in odd-numbered years.
If an elected person resigns after the first day of the candidate filing period, however, the position won’t appear on the following November ballot but will have to wait for the next odd year.
Two positions on the Oak Harbor School Board, one on the WhidbeyHealth hospital board and one on the Port of Coupeville board will be on the ballot as unexpired two-year terms. In addition, a seat on the Port of South Whidbey, which is normally six years, will be a four-year unexpired term. All of these positions are currently filled by appointed officials.
In addition, several positions will be on the ballot as “short and full term” positions. Reagan explained that the positions are currently held by people who were appointed and position would be on the ballot under the regular schedule, regardless of any resignations. The person elected to the position will serve a full term, plus a little extra; a person elected to a position held by an appointed official is sworn into office immediately after the election is finalized instead of waiting until January.
The positions on the ballot will include the mayors of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley; three Oak Harbor council positions; three Town of Coupeville positions; two Langley City Council positions; three positions on the WhidbeyHealth hospital board; all five Oak Harbor School Board positions; two Coupeville School Board positions; three South Whidbey School Board positions; two Port of Coupeville positions; and two Port of South Whidbey positions.
In addition, positions are open on fire boards, parks and recreation districts, a cemetery district, water districts and sewer districts.
Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns has said he doesn’t plan to run again and several people have expressed interest in the position, but only Hoffmire has announced so far. Langley Mayor Scott Chaplin, who was appointed to the position, said he’s unsure whether he will run. Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes didn’t respond to an inquiry.
The newspaper contacted those whose positions will appear on the ballot for municipalities, the hospital board, school districts and port districts. Among those, only Oak Harbor School Board member Bob Hallahan said he wasn’t running again.
Those who said they will run again include Oak Harbor School Board President Lynn Goebel; Coupeville Councilmember Rick Walti; Langley Councilmember Craig Cyr; South Whidbey School Board members Marnie Jackson, Joe Greenheron and Brook Willeford; and Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Jack Ng.
Both Morgan Cooper and Greg Richardson, who were appointed to the hospital board, said they plan to run in November, though Richardson said several factors may influence his decision.
Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Greg Easton said he currently intends to run but won’t make a final decision until the filing deadline. Coupeville Port District Commissioner John Callahan said he’s leaning toward running.
The other elected officials in those offices either said they weren’t sure or didn’t respond.