Endorsed by the Whidbey News Times

The Whidbey News Times published their endorsements last weekend and I was delighted to see that the editor and publisher endorsed me as the best candidate for position one on Oak Harbor’s City Council.

In the editor’s words: “The scale toward more openness and independence can be tipped for the better in the council races. Political newcomer Tara Hizon is a far better choice than retread Paul Brewer, an obstructionist who served 12 years during which time his bravado always exceeded his knowledge of the facts. Hizon is young, idealistic, smart, technologically savvy and independent. She’ll be a far more creative thinker and someone with whom the youth of this community can relate.”

The Whidbey News Times has gone out of its way to stay informed regarding all the candidates in the current election. Newspaper staff have been present at every major event and candidate forum, and both the publisher and editor actively participated during my hour-long interview with reporter Justin Burnett. On a personal note: as a “political newcomer,” I find their support both encouraging and validating.

You can see the endorsement editorial in its entirety by clicking here.

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Letters… (part three)

Thank you to Ken Hulett for submitting this letter to the editor, which was printed in last Saturday’s edition of the Whidbey News Times (you can see the online version by clicking here). I have only briefly spoken to Mr. Hulett once, so the unsolicited submission of this letter was unexpected, but certainly welcome.

“Tara Hizon is the most qualified candidate for Oak Harbor City Council position one. During the public comment period at a recent city council meeting, her opponent, Paul Brewer, said that he was “concerned” about some planned improvements to the Oak Harbor Marina.

Mr. Brewer contended that public access to the marina was threatened and “a lot of tax dollars have gone into that marina.” I agree that public access is important but Mr. Brewer was on the city council for 12 years and he still doesn’t know or understand that the marina, from its beginning over 30 years ago, has been and continues to be funded exclusively by revenue generated by the tenant leases on boat slips, storage units and other leasehold income. The marina is not funded by taxpayers! The recent dredging work is also being paid from the same tenant income, not taxpayer funds.

I support the idea of citizen watchdogs, but Mr. Brewer’s irresponsible public comments, lack of information and general disregard for the facts are an example of the worst kind of politics. Didn’t we learn from Mr. Brewer’s previous tenure on the council that he does not prepare for council meetings so that he might actually understand the facts? Didn’t we learn that Mr. Brewer’s frequent outbursts of temper and bullying behavior toward other council members often took place because of his limited command of the issues before the council?

Four years ago when Mr. Brewer ran unsuccessfully for mayor, I was at a meeting where he was asked if he’d have time in his schedule to handle the duties of mayor. His reply was that he didn’t spend any time preparing for council meetings so it’s “no problem.” We’ve seen Paul Brewer in action and our city and council can do better, much better.

His opponent, Tara Hizon, is intelligent, well-prepared, energetic and up to the job. She deserves our support. Let’s not make the mistake of putting Mr. Brewer back on the council.

Kenneth G. Hulett”

Letters… (part two)

This letter to the editor was just published in last Saturday’s edition of the Whidbey News Times. I’ve worked with Alan Schell at the Whidbey Playhouse – he is the former President of Upchurch Scientific and is a well-respected teacher and church leader in our community. I am thrilled and humbled by his support. Thank you, Alan.

“Tara Hizon will make an excellent Oak Harbor city council representative.  She will bring to the council extremely intelligent, creative thinking and perhaps most importantly the skill of working with all sorts of people.  She is definitely not an antagonist, and yet she will not allow others to walk on her.

Tara empathetically listens and seeks to understand people and their viewpoints.  When they differ from hers, she never angers or depreciates the other.  Tara will find a compromise without compromising ethics. 

In addition, Tara learns new concepts quickly and delivers work on time.  I have never seen her do anything half-heartedly.  She has pride in her workmanship.

Tara is mature in her grasp of reality, and yet young in her belief that new is not bad.  She is in touch with the modern technical world and tools it offers and yet works well with those of us who are not as modern.  Tara is honest and open with no hidden agenda.  She has lived in Oak Harbor most of her life, loves her community, and has the ability to make this city a better place.

-Alan Schell” 

This letter has not yet appeared online, but I’ll post the link if/when it does. Stay tuned!

-Tara

More Letters of Support (part one)

I continue to be humbled by the time and effort that people – many of whom are strangers to me – are putting into my campaign. Not only are campaign contributions pouring in, but I have been inundated with letters that people are writing on my behalf; letters to the editor, letters to each other, recommendations posted on Facebook, etc.

Possibly the most encouraging thing about the letters I’m receiving is that they were all  unsolicited. People are genuinely enthusiastic about infusing some new blood into local politics.

Because the Whidbey News Times may not be able to print the letters they’ve received in their entirety, I will start posting them here on my blog so they can be read.

Below is a letter to the editor sent by Dr. Alesa Lightbourne, an incredibly brilliant and accomplished woman. It was a delightful surprise to open the paper and read this:

“Candidate Will Make Town Work

Smart, young, vibrant, full of ideas, and a fantastic listener. What more could you want in a local politician besides Tara Hizon?

From my current post in Singapore, where the city is clean but crammed, and the government is virtually a one-party system, I urge you to count your blessings and vote for Tara. Having trusted her with my business on Whidbey for years, I know her to be one of the more brilliant and dedicated people of her generation.

Isn’t it time for some new blood on the Oak Harbor  City Council?  Wouldn’t it be great to have someone as classy, clear-headed and positive as Tara, to make sure we have a town that works, but never becomes a crowded, cynical city?

Alesa Lightbourne”

You can see the letter in context here.

I was disappointed that the online version of the letter did not include Dr. Lightbourne’s name. She is the founder of Lightworks Communications, LLC, the company I now own, and is currently Assistant Dean at SP Jain in Singapore. You can read more about her here.

Open Government: Some Fresh Ideas

The topic of ‘open government’ has been and will likely continue to be a recurring theme in this election. Public disclosure laws exist for a reason, and they are an essential part of holding our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make. I believe there are several things that the city of Oak Harbor can do to improve disclosure and foster an environment of open government. Having a diverse council representing the people is fantastic, but there is no substitute for getting (and keeping) the general public informed and involved.

There are some who feel that simply changing the start times of city council and standing committee meetings would somehow solve the problem of limited public participation. The Whidbey News Times reported that at the recent League of Women Voters candidate forum, I “defended” the current city council meeting start time of 6p.m. This was misleading. In reality, I acknowledged that 6p.m was inconvenient for the majority of working people (myself included). But I also pointed out that several recent meetings have lasted until midnight, and moving them back would push those meetings well into the wee hours of the morning – also inconvenient.

Here’s a thought: why doesn’t Oak Harbor start thinking outside the box and use technology to its advantage? With minimal effort and expense, the city can open up new channels of communication without keeping people away from work or their families late at night (or early in the morning, depending on the meeting).

Just a few ideas on how to use technology as a communications tool:

-Live stream public meetings
Set up a ‘live stream’ video feed on Ustream (or similar service) and have the video feed accessible on the city’s Website. This will enable people to watch the meetings in real time on their computers if they aren’t able to attend in person.

-Enable online submission of public comments
Oak Harbor already has the agenda and supporting information available on their Website. Adding a ‘comment’ form would enable feedback from people who can’t attend the meeting, but still have something valuable to contribute to the discussion.

-Post meeting segments on Youtube
I wonder how many attendees sit through hours of a city council meeting just waiting for a specific portion of the agenda? This is an issue whether attending in person or watching a past meeting on channel 10. In addition to broadcasting the city council meetings in their entirety on local television, that same video footage could also be broken up into segments and posted on Youtube or the city’s Website. This would allow people to directly access the agenda item they are most interested in and watch just that portion of the meeting.

Criticism and complaint certainly have their place in government and society, but personally, I prefer to spend my energy problem solving and trying to find creative solutions. Times are changing – so should our approach.

-Tara

League of Women Voters Forum

The League of Women Voters recently sponsored a forum where each of the 4 candidates running for position 1 could make statements and answer questions from the audience. It was a very worthwhile evening and I felt confident at the end of it.

I was disappointed that more people didn’t show up, especially considering the limited information available on each of the candidates. At the conclusion of the event, however, I was approached by a couple who said that they came in undecided on who to vote for, but left knowing that I was the “clear choice.” I consider that a success by any standard.

For the past few months, I’ve been meeting with various city staff, department heads, elected officials, and actively involved citizens in an effort to learn (from all sides) about the issues facing our city. As a result, I felt prepared for and comfortable answering each of the questions we fielded from the audience at the forum. Being a strongly opinionated person didn’t hurt, either.

Special Thanks to those who have taken the time to meet with me so far:

Chief Wallace, OHPD
Lt. Dyer, OHPD
Doug Merriman, Finance Director, City of Oak Harbor
Larry Cort, Pioneer Way Project Manager, City of Oak Harbor
Rhonda Severns, Utilities, City of Oak Harbor
Jim Palmer, Oak Harbor Councilman
Jim Campbell, Oak Harbor Councilman
Brian, Kathy & J.J Jones
Gerry Oliver
Tamra Sipes
Wayne Locke
Robyn Kolaitis
Duane Dillard

With Primary ballots out (and likely already returned by most voters), my schedule has finally calmed down a bit, but I intend to continue this learning process that I’ve started, as it has been invaluable on my political journey.

~Tara