The last of the face-to-face debates between candidates for five Ocean Shores City Council seats and the Mayor’s office took place last week at the North Beach Senior Center. Council Position 6 incumbent Bob Peterson, elected in 2015 and a resident here since 2011, shared the stage with challenger Chuck Anderson, who moved to Ocean Shores two years ago this month.
The candidates agreed much more than they disagreed, and on only a few of the 14 questions they fielded did they offer substantially different views. One such topic was approached with the statement, “Many who own ‘camping lots’ resent the 90-day limit,” and asked, “What are your thoughts on this limitation?”
Peterson said, “I think the 90-day limit is appropriate fore right now; I would like to see it sunset, however. I would like to see all lots become lots that people build on.”
He went on to explain that he thinks some people want to expand the limit, some to allow as many days as possible with year-round camping. As the city grows, now up to 6,500 residents, he said, “I think the days of this town being just a camping lot place, they’re done. I’ve lived all over the country … I’ve never, ever seen a place where they could put a camper next to my house.”
Anderson disagreed, saying, “I think the 90-day limit is too restrictive. These people own the lots, they paid good money for the lots … I’d be in favor of expanding it to at least 120 days. These people come to town, they spend a lot of money in town, they’re an important part of our economy and I think sometimes we don’t treat them very well. For a town that’s dependent on tourism to me it seems odd that we would totally restrict the number of days they could come.”
The two responded differently on attracting new year-round businesses to Ocean Shores. Anderson said the city taking on production and promotion of some key local events is “a great experiment” that could bring solid numbers to those events, and that, with the Convention Center, “we should be trying all year long to fill with any sort of professional organization convention that we can pull in,” and cited a recent convention of “furries,” that put people in local businesses and put heads in beds. “We should be seeking out other such events and bringing them into town constantly.”
Peterson noted that the question dealt with attracting year-round businesses, and said, “We need to look and see what our population needs.” He cited the city’s growth past 6,000 and asked, “What do we need as citizens …. what would you guys like to see come into to town? Expanded grocery outlets? Maybe a place to buy clothing?”
They also differed somewhat when asked why they are running for council.
Anderson said, “I just had to step up, just to be of service to my community. I’ve never lived in this great a community before where everyone’s trying to help each other and be involved. I want to represent business owners, myself being a new one. I just really want to be of service.”
Peterson said, “I feel like I’ve started it and I’m about halfway through the job. There are things that I’ve been working on and our council’s been working on that I want to see completed.”
He listed getting enhanced medical services here, crosswalks on Pt. Brown Ave., continued collaboration with the school district, work on erosion issues including those at the waste-water plant at the south end of town and finishing the jetty project. “Personally, I’ve always been goal-driven, and I want to see these things happen.”
Among several areas of concurrence, the candidates agreed that “the City and North Beach School District continue collaborative programs.”
They agreed that businesses should get involved with local events that receive LTAC funds, with Anderson saying, “As a new business owner, I’d love to be involved in events and planning.” Peterson added that Hog Wild was the first time in recent years that businesses got involved and he thinks it will continue as “a good way to get the troops together.”
Both oppose expanding overnight rentals and both do not think herbicides should be used in local waterways. Both support the city helping fund a “welcome wagon” type of activity, and they would like to see the city create “a true parks department with programs.”
The remaining debates at the Senior Center take place Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and run as follows: Oct. 22: GH Port District Commissioner Pos. 2, Tom Quigg and Tim Carr; Oct. 29: On the Fence? Numerous candidates available for one-on-one conversations.