The Daily World endorses incumbent Bearden for Westport mayor

When choosing who to vote for, eligibility to serve if elected seems like a pretty basic qualification.

In the Westport mayoral race pitting incumbent Westport Mayor Rob Bearden against challenger Joseph Whitmore, only one candidate meets it — Bearden. Whitmore recently told The Daily World he moved to an address within the city limits less than a day before the end of the candidate filing period.

State law RCW 35A.12.030 reads, “No person shall be eligible to hold elective office under the mayor-council plan unless the person is a registered voter of the city at the time of filing his or her declaration of candidacy and has been a resident of the city for a period of at least one year next preceding his or her election.”

Under that law, if Whitmore should win the general election, he would not be eligible to hold office.

Eligibility aside, Bearden is clearly more qualified to be mayor and has the skill and vision needed to lead the city for four more years. He earned a Master’s license to skipper massive catcher-processor vessels over most of the globe. They don’t give those out to people who can’t handle responsibility, leadership and pressure — let alone million-dollar business operations.

He served on the council before becoming mayor four years ago and he’s led the city well. He’s showing leadership in working to bring back a passenger-only ferry between Westport and Ocean Shores and his knowledge of the seafood industry and what it means to the South Beach economy is a huge plus.

Whitmore gets credit for running for office, but he doesn’t seem to have much of a plan if he was to win. He makes general statements about government being too big and offhandedly tosses out the idea that the city should take over ownership of the marina from the Port of Grays Harbor, which is an awful idea. The marina is the core infrastructure supporting the seafood and recreational fishing industry. The Port of Grays Harbor, with much deeper pockets and staff, has its hands full with the marina. It’s nothing a small city wants to take on. Whitmore, by his own admission, doesn’t even attend Westport City Council meetings.

With those points in mind, The Daily World editorial board is endorsing Mayor Bearden, who is overwhelmingly more qualified, for another term.

The Daily World Editorial Board includes Publisher Mike Hrycko, Editor Doug Barker, City Editor David Haerle, Lifestyle Editor Kat Bryant and Vidette Editor Michael Lang.