Whidbey Weekly publisher appointed to Oak Harbor city council

— Created March 2, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Eric Marshall, owner and publisher of Whidbey Weekly, has been appointed to the Oak Harbor city council, filling the Position 3 seat left vacant following council member Jeff Mack’s resignation in December.

Out of eight applications to fill the open seat, four candidates were selected to be interviewed during the council’s workshop last week, including Marshall, Ronnie Wright, Fe Mischo and John Chaszar, after which the council met in executive session to discuss the appointment. When the workshop resumed, motions were made to nominate Marshall and Wright. Marshall received four votes out of six and was immediately sworn into office. He will serve the remainder of Mack’s term.

Marshall has lived on Whidbey Island since he was a young child, is a longtime member of the business community as well as youth football and high school football coach. He has served on the Oak Harbor planning commission since 2020. While he had no immediate plans to become a city council member, he said his predecessor encouraged him to apply for the vacancy.

“The main reason I decided to seek this appointment is I love Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island,” Marshall said. “This is where my wife and I each grew up and where we chose to raise our family.  I believe the best way to improve your community is to get involved through voting and volunteerism.  My entire adult life I’ve tried to pay attention to who is representing us and the decisions being made that will potentially affect us.

“For the past few years, I’ve been looking through the council packets prior to each meeting and since joining the planning commission, I have been able to get a small sense of what’s required of a council member,” he continued. “When Jeff Mack resigned his position, he brought me a copy of his resignation letter and encouraged me to apply.  In the days that followed, I was encouraged to apply by a number of community members, so I decided to go for it.”

Marshall joins fellow council members Beth Munns, Jim Woessner, Tara Hizon, Bryan Stucky, Shane Hoffmire and Dan Evans, making him the fourth new member in as many months.

“Council has a number of new members this year,” he noted. “I hope to be another fresh set of eyes on the challenges and opportunities our city has.  I am coming into this position with an open mind and willingness to learn.  I will read our packets thoroughly, ask questions and do my research.

“I’m only one person, but I’m eager to work with my fellow council members and city staff to move our city forward,” Marshall continued. “Working to help curb the scheduled [utility] rate increases, develop the Harbor Heights project, increase our inventory of affordable workforce housing and dredging our harbor are just some of the projects I’m hoping to have an impact on.”

From his perspective, Marshall said one of the biggest challenges facing the council is to get the public more involved in and more aware of what is happening in the city.

“From what I’ve seen, this current council hears the input it receives,” he said. “However, it doesn’t appear council receives much input.  Many times, items on the agenda receive no public comment, either in person or online.  I hope to increase public comments, I’d like to hear from the people we are here to represent.”

Marshall said he believes Oak Harbor’s waterfront is the city’s biggest asset, as well as its most underutilized. When asked what he is most looking forward to about his new role, his response was simple.

“Serving my community,” he said.

You can reach council member Marshall via email at emarshall@oakharbor.org.