Oak Harbor City Council Again Obstructs our Mayor from performing his duty under our State Laws

Again we see our obstructive Oak Harbor City Council in action.

Recently Mayor Dudley appointed a new city attorney as a full time city employee to replace the interim attorney. The City Council has refused to confirm this appointment. This is 3 or 4 to zero in confirming the Mayors appointments without obstruction. (Correction: The City Council approved ONE appointee without obstruction, Larry Cort.)

Let’s go back a bit in recent time to when the City Council approved a new rule that allows the City Council to confirm the Mayors appointments. Since inception Oak Harbor has allowed it’s Mayor the sole ability to hire and fire administrative personel under his control until this new rule by the council. This new rule was adopted with some controversy as this allows the council to control who works under the Mayor’s control and for the citizens of Oak Harbor. Remember the City Attorney and management personnel works for the Mayor and the citizens in this city not the council. The Mayor is elected as our executive officer and all city management personnel work directly under his control. The council has thrown a wrench into this process by voting in themselves the ability to confirm those appointees. Now the Mayor is faced with hiring an employee under his direct control but having to go through our obstructive City Council to actually hire that employee. There has not been one appointee for a position chosen by our Mayor that has not been rejected or obstructed by this council with the exception of Larry Cort.

The city council created this problem all by themselves by allowing themselves to confirm the Mayors appointees. It was never this way in the history of Oak Harbor until the vote on confirming appointees by the council. Now we have a council that outright rejects all of the Mayors chosen appointees that will work under his direction making the Mayor choose someone that he feels is not suitable for the job and for whatever reason he feels is not fitting for the citizens of Oak Harbor.

This is nothing more than an attempt by the council to obstruct the Mayor in his lawful responsibility in hiring city administrative personnel that work for him the Mayor and the citizens of Oak Harbor and not the City Council.

The next step we will see from the council is an attempt to change the form of government that our city currently has. There has been mention in the past for the city of Oak Harbor to change from a strong Mayor form of government to a weak Mayor form that uses a city administrator as the chief administrative officer. This action would take the responsibility from the Mayor in hiring and firing administrative personnel and place it under the control of the City Council. This would leave our Mayor as a figurehead only and leave all power in the hands of this obstructive City Council.

Seeing the ongoing obstruction and childishness from the City Council this leaves one to wonder whether this idea is a good idea at all. We already have a city council that is playing political favorites with appointees so why in the world would the citizens of Oak Harbor ever consider giving this council even more power than they have already voted themselves to have.

For a little more history on this issue here is a link to a letter to the editor in the Whidbey news Times authored by Christon Skinner on 9-23-2012:


In the article he states:

“Many cities as large as ours operate with their city administrator as the chief administrative officer in charge of personnel and budget, while the mayor acts as a figurehead. Those professional administrators serve at the will of the city council so legislative oversight is still a key element of the system.”

“Perhaps it’s time that the citizens of Oak Harbor gave serious consideration to changing its form of government. The “strong mayor” form of government we currently use is no longer viable for Oak Harbor. It is best suited for small communities like Coupeville and Langley where budgets are smaller and personnel numbers run two to three to a department.”

“We need a form of government that utilizes well educated, experienced, professional administrators to deal with large numbers of personnel and multi-million dollar budgets. What we don’t need is more expensive and unguided decisions that are based solely on political promises.”

This would be a horrible option for Oak Harbor, we currently have a strong Mayor that is directly elected by the citizens to perform the administrative functions that would be replaced by a city administrator and our Mayor is answerable directly to the citizens. Instead of being responsible to the citizens as our mayor is currently this new administrator would not be chosen by a vote of the people, he would be chosen and controlled completely by the City Council. Remember, this is the same city council that has enacted restrictive confirmation votes on the Mayors appointees that they have used as a hatchet in attacks against the Mayor. They have created this issue and they have used it politically to attack a Mayor elected by the people. The council has acted irresponsibly with the power they have voted themselves to have so why in the world would anyone vote to give them even more unchecked power?

We need to look at our Council members and not the system of Government we have in Oak Harbor. These obstructive City Council members need to be replaced as soon as possible and replaced with those who are more concerned about the citizens in Oak Harbor than with who holds the power to obstruct.

Here is a list of the City Council members that have voted to obstruct the Mayors appointments:

Rick Almberg- Position 3- Current term: 2012 through 2015

Beth Munns- Position 2- Current term: 2012 through 2015

Tara Hizon- Position 1- Current term: 2012 through 2015

*Bob Severns- Position 4- Current term: 2010 through 2013

*Joel Servatius- Position 5- Current term: through 2013

Here are the City Council members that have voted to confirm the Mayors appointments:

*Danny Paggao- Position 7- Current term: 2010 through 2013

*Jim Campbell- Position 6- Current term: 2010 through 2013

*Up For Election This Year

It is clear who needs to go and who needs to stay in our City Council, we have already seen someone announce a run against Bob Severns, his name is Luke Yonkman and there are rumors of several people running against Joel Servatius. Please give these new candidates a look, we need to have reasonable responsible citizens step up and replace the Council Members who have made their actions one of obstruction in this city administration. Oak Harbor deserves better than what we have.

Edited on 4-3-13 to reflect the fact that the Council had approved one of the Mayors appointees without contentious obstructive behaviour, that was Larry Cort.


  1. The majority of the City Council has very clearly shown itself to be bent on an agenda whose primary goal is to obstruct Mayor Dudley at every opportunity.

    In doing so, they also act to create as much wholly unjustified chaos and controversy as possible (e.g. the City Council’s recent wrong-headed refusal to purge state-law-violating Oak Harbor City Code regarding firearms, which reversed itself ONLY because City Council members publicly stated they feared being sued PERSONALLY if they did not back down!)

    “Oak Harbor City Council openly violates state law by voting to uphold clearly illegal City Code regarding firearms in public parks”

    Christon Skinner and a majority of the members of the City Council clearly are endeavoring for a return to the days of when Jim Slowik was mayor.

    That is, they want a return to the “good ‘old days, when:

    – when the City Council meeting rules violated the state’s Open Public Meeting Act (which required intervention by the WA State Attorney General to STOP)

    “Attorney general sides with newspaper in Oak Harbor meeting dispute”

    – when the City of Oak Harbor could simply IGNORE state warnings about the archaeological risks along Pioneer Way (for which the City of Oak Harbor is STILL racking up additional expenses in the MILLION$ of dollars)

    “Archaeologists warned of burial ground under Oak Harbor street”

    – when the Oak Harbor Mayor and the Oak Harbor Chief of Police were so corrupt that the Mayor could simply walk into a private shop owner’s store, snatch a sign that the person had displayed in the front window as a political protest AGAINST the MAYOR, and then have the Chief of Police THREATEN charges….wait for it…..AGAINST the PRIVATE SHOP OWNER for complaining!

    “The Schrammie: A political bully”

    The above examples are how the City of Oak Harbor ran before our current mayor was elected. In retrospect, one would think that the voters’ solid rejection of the former mayor for such behavior and management would have been a clear message the City Council to refrain from similar behavior.

    That, however, does not appear to be the case.

    In fact, and unfortunately, returning Jim Slowik to the Mayor’s office is the ultimate goal of most of the Oak Harbor City Council, so that we can again return to doing business like it was done during the “good ‘ol days” I have delineated above.

    The gross immaturity and irresponsible vector upon which the City Council’s actions and voting record have placed us warrants a purging at the polls of most of the City Council at the next earliest opportunity.

  2. It seems to me that it is super apparent that the current council members that are against the Mayor should either be impeached, asked to resign or voted out of office at the earliest voting time.

    I would reccomend that other than Danny Paggao, and Jim Campbell who SHOULD BE RETAINED, the others should be voted out.

    Severns and Servatius Should be voted out in this years election and vote for someone who verifies that he/she will be in favor of a Strong Mayor system. The bickering and backstabbing of the elected Mayor is going to cause the City and thus the TAXPAYERS a lot of money to retian attorneys etc.

  3. I beg to differ with this article. The council has voted to hire the following appointees of the Mayor:
    Assistant Prosecutor Nikki Esparza;
    City Administrator Larry Cort;
    Chief of Police Ed Green
    Fire Chief Ray Merrill.

    I grant you that Chief Merrill’s appointment was challenged but eventually approved. All of the others were passed except for the City Attorney candidate which was not qualified as a City Attorney and the Council had good reason to not appoint this person.

    1. I was not aware of Nikkie Esparza. Is the Assistant Prosecutor a position appointed by the Mayor? I think she is actually just an employee not an appointee.

      I will correct the article to reflect Larry Cort. My mistake.

      As for Ed Green. Ed Green is nice person and a good choice but Ed Green was not the Mayor’s first choice. His first choice was Capt Sterkel of our own OHPD. When the council heard about the Mayor appointing Capt Sterkel a new ordinace was passed requiring certain education requirements that Capt. Sterkel did not have which put him out of the running. This was an obvious and planned obstructive act by the council.

      Ray Merrill’s was the most contentious and embarrassing confirmation I have ever seen in Oak Harbor and the Council obstructed in every way they could. Here are a few comments from the local paper after his confirmation:
      “Do not put the Oak Harbor Fire Department in the middle of the conflict you have with him,” firefighter Rich Rogers said.” (Him speaking of the Mayor)
      “It sounds to me like it was a political ploy to embarrass the mayor,”
      “Kyla Pearce, 25, suggested that the council owed Merrill an apology.”
      ““I felt I was a pawn in a political machine,” said Merrill”

      It was a horrible process and a horrible example of obstruction by a majority of our Council.

      Yes you are correct concerning Larry Cort and thank you for pointing that out but the facts still remain that we have a council that is out of control and not serving the best interests of the citizens of Oak Harbor.

      1. Please check out the December Council agendas. You will see that the same evening that Larry Cort’s contract was approved, one for our Assistant Prosecutor, Nikki Esparza, was also approved unopposed.

        Communication and working together is a two way street. Both the Mayor and our Council need to look for common ground and work to improve our City.

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