Four candidates apply to replace Overton

The four applicants to replace Dan Overton for Position No. 3 on the Ocean Shores City Council appeared live last week on KOSW 91.3 FM radio with questions also from the North Coast News.

Here are excerpts from the statements and answers the candidates provided as a prelude to the City Council selection process, which is set to occur on Aug. 22.

Michael Darling

Darling currently is president of the Ocean Parks Board and a founder of the new Ocean Shores Parks Foundation.

“I have been a permanent resident of Ocean Shores for about four years now, attend the City Council regularly, subscribe to the local newspaper, but actually started coming out here in the late 1970s,” Darling said.

Why do you want to be on City Council? “To continue to improve things for everyone in the city.”

John Schroeder

Schroeder moved to Ocean Shores eight years ago and served on the City Council (Position 2), before choosing to run for Position 3 last year and losing to Overton.

“I gave up my seat and ran against Overton, which was a mistake,” Schroeder acknowledged during his opening radio remarks.

“I would like to be back on council. I enjoyed the challenges — the studying, the understanding, the RCWs, the LIDs, the levies, all that stuff is pretty interesting,” Schroeder said.”Since I have been off the council, it has kind of left a void because I did spend a lot of time doing city business.”

Lisa Griebel

Griebel, the principal at Miller Jr. High School in Aberdeen, said she has been coming to Ocean Shores as a visitor since 1991 and then bought vacation property in the city in 2011, moving full time in 2013.

“I would like to be on council because I think I have experienced Ocean Shores the way everyone here experiences it: as a visitor, as a part-time person and now as a full-time resident. I bring a perspective that all the people who come here — whether you are visiting, whether you are part-time or full-time — deserve a quality of life here.”

Susan Conniry

Conniry has been on the Planning Commission for two years and ran for mayor last year against incumbent Crystal Dingler. She also has been a member of the Parks Board.

“In the last election, I got to meet with many people in the community and listen to their concerns. And though I did not get elected in the first go-round, I have continued the work that I said I was going to do if I had been elected and I have accomplished a number of things,” Conniry said.

Most important of those, she said, were a series of Town Hall meetings with the Ocean Shores Block Watch group.

“I believe that is a perspective I bring and would continue to bring with the City Council,” Conniry said, citing her experience on a Fire District board in Southern California before moving to Ocean Shores in 2014.

Question: With budget discussions just getting under way, what are your priorities and what would you advocate for or against in the 2017 Ocean Shores general fund budget?

Schroeder: “Back in 2012, when I was on the council, I orchestrated a 2.5 percent budget cut. I got the four votes and we got the budget cut. (Councilman Randy) Scott turned it into a contingency fund, which is good. We need to start paying cash for items that are small enough that you can pay for. We are spending way too much money on interest. We need to re-evaluate where our dollars are going and concentrate on improving the city. We need money to fix our roads. There are a lot of things we need to do, but the main thing is to cut the costs of the city somewhat, and start maintaining what we have. Some of the buildings are dilapidated and need repair and we need to do something with the Convention Center. That pretty well covers it.”

Griebel: “As an administrator in schools, I’ve had lots of experience with budgets — as a principal at a junior high school, and as principal at a high school. I have participated in managing not only my own school budget, but participated with input into a district-wide budget. Unfortunately, as we all know, when the city here went through tough times, schools were going through tough times as well, and had to participate in some pretty tough discussions about cutting budgets and what priorities were, and ultimately I had to make personnel decisions about cutting people’s jobs.

“I think the most important thing in any budget is the safety of the people who live here and the people who visit here. If people don’t feel safe, if this isn’t a community that people enjoy living in and feel safe living in, they are not going to want to stay and tourists are not going to want to come here was well. So safety and maintaining the safety of our area is very important.

“Second would be infrastructure. The roads: we all want to drive around here without hitting a pothole. You need to be able to get from place to place. You want to be able to have fresh water coming to you from the utilities, so we need to maintain the infrastructure that we have and continue to improve it.”

Conniry: “The important thing to me — and it has been ever since I have been here — is that the decisions that are being made on the City Council have to be made with the citizens’ input. We need to continue to work to make that more so. When we offer an opportunity at the budget sessions for citizens to step forward with public comment, you notice there are usually not many. The public is very afraid to step up to a microphone in a City Council meeting, which is the reason we pushed for Town Hall meetings where we could have a more informal area. Regardless of who is appointed to this position, it is my stance that we can utilize those Town Halls more, include the community in the conversation so that the people who have been elected to serve the public can have a better knowledge of the things that are important.”

Darling: “I’m going to be the odd man out here and point out that joining the council mid-term like this means a lot of catch-up at first. I’m going to fly a little higher and talk about things I think are important further down the road, and that would be planning. Infrastructure is certainly a concern, but more importantly an evaluation of all of our mechanical systems, our roads, our equipment in one place is going to be key to knowing where the money might go. I remember with the hard times around here, we have just been reactive and not proactive on some of this. Just having it all in one place puts you in a better position to prioritize what you have to do, what you’d like to do and what is probably not going to happen. Additionally, I am a fan of the Transportation Benefit District right now. Knowing that the roads aren’t going to get any better, it’s time to react now before they are going to get much worse.”

All four candidates will appear before the council on Aug. 22.