The outcome of the Ocean Shores Mayoral race was finally final the afternoon of Dec. 3, some 27 days after the Nov. 5 election, when the hand recount conducted at the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s office confirmed the numbers released on Nov. 26, showing incumbent Mayor Crystal Dingler had defeated two-time challenger and City Council member Susan Conniry by three votes, 1,607 to 1,604.
But the clock on the marathon count started shortly after 8 on election night Nov. 5, with Conniry holding a 30-vote lead. As more ballots arrived in the mail, Dingler overtook the challenger.
Following the final determination, The North Coast News contacted both candidates and told them that the paper would be doing a “forward looking” story. Each was asked for their comments on the election and for responses to this statement and question: “Many feel the city is somewhat divided after the election. What will you, personally, do to bring the city together, to lessen the divide?” Both sent their responses by email.
“I am excited to continue serving the citizens of Ocean Shores for another four years. The role of the Mayor is changing. With the City Administrator available to lead the staff, I will be able to spend more time working on program- and project-based efforts.
“We have many and wide-ranging goals, such as improving our year-around economy, maintaining and developing our infrastructure, providing more local healthcare, improving our communications network, developing the high dune trail, implementing a ferry to Westport, building a police station/city hall, and more.
“To accomplish these, we need to use all of the tools, resources and knowledge available to us. Currently, we have over 100 citizens who volunteer on a regular basis to work on City-led community projects and programs. I plan to provide more opportunities for citizens to be involved in many of the projects and programs we will be working on over the next four years. I encourage a diverse group to collaborate on these efforts so that we hear from a variety of viewpoints and ideas.
“Working together, we will make Ocean Shores a better place to live, work and play. I sincerely hope everyone takes part, sharing their hopes and dreams for our community, and their ideas, strengths and wisdom on efforts they can embrace.”
Conniry, who has two years remaining in her City Council term, wrote:
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.56.030 states, in part, “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. …”
For the prior two years, on city council, I maintained my commitment to our citizens, striving to allow everyone the opportunity to be an integral part of the civic process. Community Voices, my council coffee, meeting every Thursday, from 11-12:30 p.m. at the North Beach Senior Center provides that opportunity for people to meet, share their ideas, participate in civic discussion, ask questions.
Through civic participation we will continue to demonstrate how much we care for our community and each other.
What will you do to personally to bring the city together?
Though neither candidate won 50% of the vote in this election, and many see this as a city divided, if you look at the increase in the number of voters since the race four years ago, you see something quite different. In 2015, Dingler won by a majority but four years later Dingler added only 372 votes while Conniry added 826 votes. I attribute that to the fact that my platform has always been the same. Engage citizens and give them a voice in local government. Their Vote was their Voice.
Not divided at all, in my opinion. We are united in our belief that citizen engagement in government is paramount. I expect the other council members agree and we will continue to have ‘Conversation with Council.’
I’m looking forward to next year, collaborating with the Mayor and my council colleagues as we create a culture of trust and transparency with our citizens. There is a lot of work ahead of us. We must create a positive atmosphere in which our community can thrive. No matter who you supported, we need to work together, collaborate and create a vision for the future of Ocean Shores that we all support.
Dingler was elected to her third term as Ocean Shores Mayor, and will take the oath of office again at the first City Council meeting of 2020, on Monday, Jan. 13. The five Council members elected last month, incumbents Jon Martin, Eric Noble, Bob Peterson and Kathryn Sprigg, and newcomer Frank Elduen, also will be sworn in at that meeting.