Three ex-mayors reflect on Port Townsend’s past

PORT TOWNSEND — When Brent Shirley moved to Port Townsend in 1976, it was a sleepy little town about to wake up to financial reality.

Even into the 1980s, residents paid no more than $8 a month for utilities, including unlimited water, Shirley said.

And the Police Department was lucky to field two officers per shift.

Sworn in as mayor in 1983, Shirley discovered there wasn’t enough money in the city budget to cover the payroll.

Shirley was one of the last elected chief executives to serve Port Townsend under the mayor/City Council form of government.

At tonight’s First Friday program at the historic City Hall, Shirley and the city’s last two mayors under the “strong mayor” system — John Clise and Julie McCulloch — will talk about serving during the years spanning the two decades between the city-manager form of government and a simpler time when citizen-leaders ran the show.

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