Langley Inside and Out
All about the City of Langley from The Record and other sources
Interest is lacking, so far, in the vacant seat on the Langley City Council.
City officials announced two weeks ago they would begin accepting applications to fill the seat, which was left vacant by Robert Gilman’s unexpected resignation on Aug. 1.
City Treasurer Debbie Mahler said Monday that no applications have yet been submitted from people who are interested in serving as a council member.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11.
The city council is scheduled to review candidates for the Position 5 vacancy at the council meeting on Monday, Sept. 19. The council’s pick is expected to join the council after the vote on the appointment at that meeting.
Applications for City of Langley residents interested in being appointed to City Council Seat #5 are due on Monday, September 12th by 5:00 PM. At the council meeting on September 19th at 5:30 PM the City Council will be interviewing applicants to fill the council vacancy. The applicant selected will be sworn-in at the council meeting and will serve until December 31, 2013. Application materials are available by clicking this link.
Earlier this month, the Record surveyed the candidates running for a seat on the Langley City Council.
Six of seven candidates responded; Robin Adams did not, due to a “vacation in a computer and cell phone-free environment.”
Adams is now advancing to the General Election as a candidate for Position 3, with Jim Sundberg as his opponent in November. He provided his answers to the survey this week, and because the issues remain relevant, we’re posting them here.
What specific ideas do you have for improving Langley’s economy?
“1. Establish a joint task force with local business people and owners of vacant or underutilized commercial property to identify potential businesses to attract to Langley and then go out and try to recruit them.
2. Work with the ferry system to promote Whidbey Island more effectively and overcome perceived obstacles to increasing the number of visitors.
3. Resolve inconsistencies between the plan and the code and create an effective mechanism for dialogue between developers and the community in order to remove the perception, whether or not it is really justified, that Langley is anti-growth.”
Should decisions of Langley’s hearing examiner be subject to appeal to the city council?
“No. The hearing examiner should be an administrative law judge who decides complex regulatory matters, subject to review by the Appeals Court. However, the hearing examiner should only be used for complicated matters. City council should continue to decide the vast majority of relatively simple matters, preferably by a process that involves dialogue, mediation and consensus-building.”
Unless the current salary structure for the mayor is changed, the next elected mayor in Langley will be paid an annual salary of $53,000, which cannot be lowered during the mayor’s four-year term.
Should the city council revisit the issue of the mayor’s salary?
“Yes. The mayor should have a modest base salary. The mayor should be able to request, for his term only, an additional amount if his circumstances and qualifications are such that he can replace or partly replace a permanent staff person. The council should set an overall budget for the mayor and his immediate office at about the current level.”
How much should the mayor be paid annually?
“The base should be $24,000 per year.”
How many hours a week do you expect to devote your work on the council?
“As many as it takes to do the job properly. You do not know what is going to come up, or how complex it might be. It is foolish to promise a specific number of hours in these circumstances.”
Langley’s Parks and Open Space Commission has pushed for a network of walking trails through Langley, and there has also been support for biking lanes in the village. Which should be a greater priority for the city — installing sidewalks in neighborhoods that currently lack sidewalks, or establishing new walking trails and bike lanes?
“Sidewalks are appropriate only for the major streets with significant traffic. Fortunately Langley’s traffic is not at the point where we need dedicated bike lanes. Other streets should be shared space.
Walking should be encouraged as it is better for the environment, better for people’s health and in a city of Langley’s size, eminently practical. Subject to budget constraints, I support the creation of a trails network.”
During the council’s review of the 2011 budget, one council member said the city should consider contracting out for police services. Should Langley contract with Island County to provide police services, and decommission its police department?
“I believe that a local police force can better reflect community values and sensitivities in policing. Therefore my inclination is to keep our own officers on the job, unless it can be demonstrated that this is unreasonably expensive – which I currently doubt.”
Attendance at council meetings has been an issue over the past year. How many council meetings do you think you will not attend in person?
“I have sufficient job flexibility to schedule most of my travel to avoid conflicts with council meetings. However, I may occasionally miss a meeting. I understand that state law permits telephone participation and I will further reduce non-participation by that means. I am prepared to use my councilman’s fee to acquire any equipment that the city may not currently have, if necessary topped up from personal resources. On that basis I expect to maintain a better than 85 percent attendance record.”
Should building heights be increased where water views will not be impacted?
“Yes, except that I would include other kinds of views as well. Higher buildings translate into less impervious surface coverage and, therefore, support a variety of highly desirable environmental goals. In the specific case of the north (sea) side of First Street, its redevelopment could have multiple floors on the ocean side without increasing the heights on the south (town) side. I favor creating a small number of special areas in which such development would be permitted, under reasonable conditions.”
Does the city need an ethics ordinance/policy that covers elected/appointed city officials?
“Yes. There are loopholes and ambiguities in the law on conflict of interest. I am sure that our city staff and all of the elected officials and candidates are decent and honorable people, but it never hurts to remind ourselves formally that just because something is technically legal does not make it right. I prefer a policy to an ordinance because the ethical landscape and its pitfalls are constantly changing.”
Wednesday’s meeting of the Langley Civil Service Commission has been canceled.
The commission had been scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the process for appointing a permanent chief of police for the city.
City Treasurer Debbie Mahler said a scheduling problem with one of the commission’s members led to the cancellation.
Langley’s Civil Service Commission will meet this week to talk about the process for appointing a permanent chief of police for the city.
Randy Heston, a 15-year veteran of the Langley Police Department, took over as the village’s acting police chief in March after Bob Herzberg retired.
The Civil Service Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17 to talk about the rules, regulations and procedures for the examination and appointment of a permanent chief of police. The meeting is open to the public.
More than a hundred South End residents have signed their names to a glossy anti-Prop. 1 flier that is being distributed throughout Langley.
The campaign piece got its start when Janet Ploof began collecting signatures in support of Langley’s council-mayor form of government.
Prop. 1 will be decided by Langley voters on Tuesday, and if passed, will do away with the position of an elected mayor. The power of the city council would be increased, with council members choosing one of their own to serve as mayor, and council members would also hire a professional manager to run the day-to-day operations of city hall.
The campaign flier says Prop. 1 is “clearly the biggest issue to hit Langley in recent memory.”
It notes that 82 percent of cities in Washington use the council-mayor form of government, the model currently used in Langley, and that the recent trend in this state is for cities to change back from the council-manager form to the council-mayor model. Langley, by comparison, would be going in the opposite direction if Prop. 1 is approved.
The flier also warns of a loss of “checks and balances” without a mayor — including the loss of a mayor’s veto power over council decisions — and the “potentially overly-powerful ‘group of three’ council.”
Here’s the list of “Citizens who say ‘No on Proposition 1′”
R. Bruce Allen
J. Doug Allerdice
Mary L. Moreno-Cain
Rick R. Cain
R. Jeffrey Griffin
Mary Ann Mansfield
Cathy Waymire Rooks
Voter turnout is low — so far — among Langley voters for the Primary Election.
Deputy Auditor Michele Reagan of Island County’s elections office said most of Langley’s active voters have yet to submit a ballot to the county.
“Everything that came in through yesterday has been put into the mix, and we’ve received 350 ballots total between the two precincts,” Reagan said Thursday.
Langley has 831 active voters.
“You’re looking at less than 50 percent [turnout],” Reagan said.
This year’s primary has plenty on the ballot for voters in the Village by the Sea.
Robin Adams, Jim Sundberg and Kathleen Waters are running for Position 3 on the Langley City Council.
Bruce Allen, Thomas Gill and Jonathon Moses are seeking election to Position 4 on the council.
Also on the ballot: Proposition 1. If passed, Prop. 1 would eliminate the position of an elected mayor in Langley, and the city council would hire a manager to run the day-to-day operations of city hall. A ceremonial mayor would be chosen by the council from their ranks.
For voters to the north, the primary ballot has a three-way race for the District 3 seat on the Port of Coupeville board of commissioners between Richard Turner, Laura Blankenship and Mike Diamanti; and in Oak Harbor, a four-way race for council Position 1 between Tara Hizon (Wentland), Mark S. Wiggins, Paul Brewer and Martha Yount.
“It hasn’t been a real strong turnout, for any of the races,” Reagan said.
The current state of turnout for the election follows historical trends.
In past elections, the biggest bulk of ballots arrive for counting at the county after the final weekend prior to the election.
The Primary Election is Aug. 16.
The public is welcome to observe or participate in another meeting of the Council’s ad hoc committee that is seeking to update the City’s personnel policies and procedures.
Please note that although City Staff are working on Fridays, the building is not normally open to the public so as to allow staff some valuable uninterrupted work time.
We will respect that effort by meeting in the Council room with the door closed.
Please join us if you can.
The Record has heard from a number of readers who were disappointed with the candidates forum in Langley recently sponsored by the League of Women Voters; some felt the questions, the number of questions, and the time given for candidates to speak were not equally distributed.
In response to requests for more information on the candidates for city council, the Record has agreed to post a Q&A survey to the candidates that will be published on the Record’s website at www.southwhidbeyrecord.com.
A set of 10 questions were developed by the Record over the weekend and distributed to all candidates. Candidates face a Wednesday evening deadline to complete the short survey, but surveys from candidates that are submitted early are expected to appear on the Record’s website the same day.
Langley voters won’t get a chance to decide who takes over for Robert Gilman on the city council until 2013.
In an unexpected move that surprised many, Gilman resigned from his seat at Monday’s council meeting. During his farewell speech, Gilman said one of his reasons for resigning immediately was to give Langley residents the opportunity to fill his seat via the November ballot.
That’s not an option, however.
Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider said Thursday the person who is appointed to fill the vacant council seat must fulfill the remainder of Gilman’s term.
Gilman’s term runs through 2013.
A new state law says the person appointed to the seat must hold that position until the next normally scheduled election for that post.
“The old rule would have been that this would have been a short term, and appointment, and then go on the ballot,” Crider said.
Langley officials have been notified of the new law, the auditor said.
“They’re on the right page and so are we,” Crider said.