Three vie for job of Langley mayor

Scott Chaplin and Roger Scrafford have stepped forward to challenge Thomas Gill in the mayoral race.

Two more citizens have stepped forward to challenge Thomas Gill in the contest to be the next mayor of Langley.

Scott Chaplin and Roger Scrafford both submitted applications this week for the position, which is being vacated by Tim Callison.

City council members will be appointing the new mayor following an interview with each candidate at the council meeting scheduled for Monday, June 21.

Gill, who is currently serving his second term on the city council, was the first to apply for the role.

Gill is a longtime denizen of the city, having lived there for the majority of his life. He cites an extensive knowledge of the city and its inner workings as what sets him apart from the other candidates.

Besides attending Langley’s city council meetings for the past 12 years, Gill said he has a working relationship with the city staff and much of the community. He has also been a chairperson for the city’s Planning Advisory Board and its Civil Service Commission.

“I have the institutional knowledge to get to work right away, something that I feel neither of the other applicants can say honestly,” he said.

During his time on the city council, Gill has not been afraid to voice his opinion, even when he has been the lone opposition.

Gill has stood against Langley obtaining sanctuary city status, banning the use of fireworks and most recently, mandating anti-racism training for city staff.

He is currently a Technical Support Specialist for Whidbey Telecom, a day job which he is loath to give up.

“There’s nothing that says a mayor has to be full-time,” he said about the position.

In a 2011 interview with The Record, Gill said the mayor’s salary should be “$25,000, with the ability to have that raised if the mayor choses to work ‘full-time,’ and hires a less than half-time assistant.”

In recent months, Councilmember Craig Cyr has advocated for raising the mayoral pay to match the city’s median income, something Gill said he would not be opposed to.

The current salary for the mayor of Langley is $55,000, with medical insurance included.

An issue Gills thinks the city should focus on is getting people connected to the Langley Infrastructure Project.

“I would work to develop incentives for people to connect, which, in theory, should reduce the burden of sewer services to the entire city,” he said. “This is one of many things that make it difficult for the city to have affordable housing.”

He also supports addressing the “distinct lack of tourist accommodations.”

Chaplin, who has filed to run for Position 5 on the city council, is also vying for the position of mayor.

A Langley resident since 2015, Chaplin has six years of experience as a town trustee — similar to a city councilmember — in the town of Carbondale, Colo., where he also founded and owned a small retail store specializing in sustainability.

The self-described “policy, resource management and government nerd” has been working on and off on municipal governance issues over the past 35 years, from large cities such as Ann Arbor, Mich. to smaller communities such as Provo, Utah.

In addition, he has served two years as a board member for the Roaring Fork Transit Authority, the largest rural transit provider in the U.S.

On Whidbey, Chaplin was elected chairperson of the Island County Democrats for the 2017-2018 term. More recently, he has been working with Langley’s Affordable Housing Working Group, a subcommittee of the city’s Planning Advisory Board.

Chaplin helped launch Stallman Studio in Bayview, a space for internationally known sculptors. He is currently working there, but would most likely “phase out” his day job if he was chosen to be Langley’s next mayor.

If he were made mayor, he said he would most likely not ask the council for a pay raise.

“Langley is so strapped for cash,” he said. “It’s trying to be a big city on a little city budget.”

Although unwilling to advocate for raising taxes, he said there are other ways to raise revenue that the city could focus on, including trying to increase tourism activities in the slower parts of the year.

Chaplin said he would support a number of staff trainings, including some focusing on sexual harassment, which has never been required by the city. When asked, he said he would mandate anti-racism training for staff.

Chaplin also mentioned making the city more efficient in regards to its emergency preparation, which could encompass climate change but also natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and forest fires.

“I think I can bring more funding and experts in to help us make Langley one of the greenest small towns in the area,” he said.

He is also supportive of sanctuary city status.

Other issues he would like the city to focus on include pay equity for employees and making recordings of city council meetings more accessible by uploading video footage in addition to the audio recording.

Scrafford, the third candidate who has applied for mayor, is a jack of all trades who has been everything from a professional musician to a land surveyor to a blacksmith’s helper to a computer programmer to a lighting fixture designer.

Although he is retired, Scrafford said he finds himself “busier than when I was employed.”

He has never before run for public office, and said he was inspired to do so because only one other person had applied at the time he declared his interest.

“I feel that an election with only one candidate is an election in name only,” Scrafford said. “An awareness of voter apathy and the general unwillingness to participate in the democratic process led me to apply.”

In the past, he has been a secretary for an engineer’s union and a fledgling homeowner’s association.

The Langley resident of four years said he would not mandate anti-racism staff training, should the issue come up again, but did acknowledge the existence of “societal or structural racism” that he has witnessed firsthand.

“Anyone who most needs such a thing would be antagonized, and anyone who didn’t need it would find such training to be an imposition,” he said of the training. “That is not to say that racism should not be dealt with: At the first sign of its appearance, all involved parties should take a time out, and an immediate face-to-face discussion with the direct supervisor take place.”

Scrafford is generally in favor of sanctuary city status, but not when applied to Langley.

“My response would depend on the means by which the city limited its cooperation with federal efforts to enforce immigration law,” he said. “I would prefer not to go to prison.”

Like the other candidates, he agreed that affordable housing is a hot issue in Langley. He mentioned the construction of more affordable housing and higher salaries for low-income workers.

Scrafford also agreed that climate change is another issue the city should focus on.

“In Langley we can work within our own realm by dealing more effectively with wood smoke fires and irrigation runoff, for example,” he said.

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