First day of filing week produces race for Langley City Council seat

Peter Morton

An open Langley City Council seat became the first contested race on South Whidbey Monday.

Peter Morton, a retired vice president at Boeing, filed to run for position 5. It’s currently held by incumbent Thomas Gill, who also filed for the position.

“I turned 80 and I’ve never done anything civic but vote, and I thought it was time,” said Morton in an interview with The Record early Tuesday. “I was inspired to do that by the sanctuary city discussion.”

Monday was the start of filing week, the five-day period where people formally declare their candidacies for open elected positions on the November general election ballot.

Morton said he supports the proposed sanctuary city ordinance currently before the city council. He described Langley as a “fairly liberal, progressive town” and said it should have representatives with matching views.

Morton retired from Boeing as a vice president in human resources. He has an engineering degree and is a pilot.

Gill is seeking his second four-year term. He was formerly a longtime volunteer on the Langley Planning Advisory Board.

A message left Tuesday morning seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Another new name on the ballot for Langley City Council is Burt Beusch. He filed for position 1, the position formerly held by Rene Neff. She resigned Monday night, largely for health reasons.

The only contact information listed for Beusch on the county’s election filing page was an email address, and an email to him Monday evening was not returned by press time Tuesday.

With Neff’s resignation, the council is tasked with appointing a replacement. That interim council member will serve until the general election results are certified, usually about three weeks after the election. Whoever is elected will be sworn in, and serve out the remainder of the year and then a full four-year term.

The city is accepting applications, and candidate interviews are scheduled for June 5.

Filing week revealed other political newcomers on the South End as well. Andrea Downs, a Freeland resident, filed for position 2 on the South Whidbey School Board. It is held now by Julie Hadden, but Hadden is moving and filed for position 5. That seat is occupied by Fred O’Neal, but he’s not seeking a new term.

Downs, 30, is a program facilitator for special services in Everett Public Schools, and holds a masters degree in policy study from the University of Washington. She moved to Whidbey about one year ago, and said the current board of directors and superintendent have earned her respect. She hopes to contribute on the board, and make a positive impact on students.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing opportunities to lend my perspective to students on South Whidbey, specifically to help build support for their social and emotional development,” Downs said.

Finally, Adrienne Blythe Hawley is seeking position 1 on the South Whidbey Fire/EMS Board of Commissioners. Her reasons for running are unknown; she and The Record swapped phone messages Monday evening and were unable to connect Tuesday morning. She did confirm in an email, however, that she’s a state park ranger.

According to fire district Deputy Chief Mike Cotton, she is also a former volunteer firefighter and EMT with the district, but stepped away to pursue education overseas. He added that she is in the process of becoming a volunteer again. It’s unclear whether she’d be able to remain a volunteer if elected due to state rules and conflict of interest policies.

Hawley, a Freeland resident, is the daughter Lt. Mike Hawley, a former Island County sheriff.

Position 1 is currently held by longtime Commissioner Bob Elliot. He confirmed last week that he is not seeking reelection.

More familiar names also filed on Monday. They include incumbent commissioners Lou Malzone and John Brunke on the Freeland Water and Sewer District board, incumbent Matt Simms on the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District board, incumbent Jack Ng with the Port of South Whidbey and incumbent Grethe Cammermeyer on the WhidbeyHealth board.

Filing week closes on Friday afternoon.

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