Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler, who helped guide the city through the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, has died.
Ocean Shores City Councilman and Mayor pro tem Jon Martin made the announcement Sunday morning, Nov. 7, on his Facebook page.
“I’m so sorry to have to share the news with you all that we have lost the Honorable Mayor Dingler on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021,” wrote Martin. “Please keep (Dingler’s husband) Dean and their children in your thoughts, prayers, and respect their privacy.”
Monday, Martin told The Daily World that Dingler’s reach went beyond that of the city of Ocean Shores.
“It’s a great loss for the city of Ocean Shores. She was elected three times as mayor and all our department heads were her hires,” said Martin. “And just the work she did not only in the city but outside the city, on different committees, both regional and national. It’s a great loss.”
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Vickie Raines, whose District 3 includes Ocean Shores, told The Daily World, “She was really good to work with. I’ll miss her.”
Raines later posted on her Facebook page, “I worked with Mayor Dingler for many years and appreciated her frankness, as well as her desire to get things done. We didn’t always agree on issues, but Crystal and I worked together to find solutions.”
Monday morning, Martin expected that evening’s City Council meeting to be an emotional one, as the city grapples with the unexpected loss and finds itself dealing with the business of appointing in the next few months someone to act as mayor until Dingler’s term would have been up in 2023.
“Right now the city administrator is running the day-to-day operations of the city,” said Martin. “I think it’s up to 90 days the council has to select someone to replace the mayor, and that could either occur (Monday) night or at another meeting.”
The council is not limited to selecting a mayor within its own ranks, said Martin, who has run the last couple of meetings Dingler was unable to attend.
In the most recent mayoral election, her third, Dingler again faced Susan Conniry: it took a hand recount to determine the winner of the election, with Dingler edging Conniry by three votes.
Dingler soon had the unenviable task of guiding a city, with its large population of elderly residents, through the unknown waters of a global pandemic. Faced with growing concerns from the city’s population over the spread of the virus from outside as people from all over feeling trapped by COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns sought escape at the beaches, Dingler took part in a press conference with Gov. Jay Inslee in April 2020.
“Grays Harbor visitors and residents: to remain healthy we need to continue social distancing and staying home. It’s really important to all of us that people from an infected area, or from any area because any of us can be infected, don’t come to Grays Harbor County,” said Dingler.
“We’re struggling; we have limited resources. So please, we love you, come back to see us in the summer when things are better, but now is not the time.”
Lodging was shut down, as were the beach approaches, at the time. The city was enduring layoffs and potential economic shortfalls.
Dingler concluded her remarks by again urging nonresidents: “Stay home; stay healthy; we love you but please don’t come visit us right now.”