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Council races heat up with nine candidates filing
Continued fiscal conservancy, more back-to-basics and a focus on strategic planning are included in the platforms of candidates who’ve decided to run – as of Thursday – for a seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council.
Nine candidates had filed by late Friday afternoon for the four council positions up for grabs, including the at-large position held by incumbent Barry Peters and seats vacated by councilors Kim Brackett in the South Ward, Bill Knobloch in the Central Ward and Hilary Franz in the North Ward.
There are two candidates in three of the four races, with three people running for the at-large position as of 4 p.m. Friday, according to the Kitsap County Auditor's office. Candidates had until Friday at 5 p.m. to file for the Aug. 16 primary and November general elections.
Races will narrow three at-large candidates to two in the primary, where only voters residing in the corresponding ward can vote for the candidate. The November general election will be decided by an entire vote of the island for each of the candidates, regardless of ward.
Incumbent Barry Peters filed again for the at-large seat, which he won in 2007 without opposition. Peters will face two newcomers to Bainbridge political office this time around.
Peters said he wants to remain on the council to continue working on turning the city-government around, and to provide the new form of government and strategic planning process to produce results.
“I want us to do the maintenance that keeps our community together, like maintaining and improving our roads,” said Peters. “I believe in local government as a way to community.”
Peters, who co-founded Sustainable Bainbridge, said he is working to reduce the city’s water utility rates by at least 45 percent through more efficient practices if the council decides to retain the utility rather than transferring it.
He wants the city to take action on fixing critical road problems, like the water erosion undermining Rockaway Beach Road, as he finishes his current term.
Steven Bonkowski decided to run at the encouragement of fellow Bainbridge Island Rotarians. Bonkowski plans to use his professional experience consolidating an aerospace company to help Bainbridge plan for its future.
“We do not have secure revenue sources, which makes it difficult to solve today’s problems,” said Bonkowski. “We have to repair our roads and we have to upgrade our infrastructure and that’s where the money needs to be focused, which is hard to do. We have started and a lot more work needs to be done.”
Bonkowski said he is looking forward to the challenges associated with council work and thinks the community can benefit from his leadership skills and a path to a more solvent island future.
Kim Hendrickson brings her experience as a board member on the Housing Resources Board, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and as the chief examiner of the island’s Civic Services Commission to the at-large race. Hendrickson was a political science professor before moving to the island. She says optimism and frustration led her to running for council.
“Optimism because I love this island and I think our government is capable of running things effectively with our amazing resources and talent,” she said. “But frustration because I’ve seen problems with city government up close and I don’t like it.”
Hendrickson said she is a back-to-basics candidate who wants to see expenses cut and spending focused on services like roads, bike lanes and infrastructure. She also wants to focus on police relations in the community.
Candidates for the ward include Anne Blair, who filed Monday, and Craig Goodman, who filed Thursday afternoon. Goodman filed without posting an address or phone number, and wasn't reached for this story.
Blair is a 34-year island resident with a professional background as a nonprofit director and experience on a variety of public and nonprofit boards and commissions at the local, county, state and national level. She is interested in working on a budget process closely tied to strategic planning.
“I can provide thoughtful, clear and timely decision making,” said Blair. “I understand the importance of the thoughtful process that goes on before the dais and the importance of careful listening and willingness to change in the decision making process.”
Blair said she will use her experience developing, managing and overseeing budgets to continue moving the city in the direction set forward with the change in government and today’s fiscal realities.
The seat for the Central Ward will include former Design Review Board member John Green and Utility Advisory Committee Chair David Ward.
Green has been a DRB member since its creation and has been a developer on the island since 1994, after leaving Los Angeles and an apparel company he created.
“I’ve had almost 19 years to look at City Hall and see where the problems are,” said Green. “My main thrust is to change the structure of government by stripping it down and making it run more efficiently with the funds we have.”
Green said he wants to focus on the basic needs of the community by starting with the big picture of city finances and using his hands-on, budget-driven experience to solve problems and change government.
Ward has served in a number of roles in the community including time on the Housing Resources Board, Bainbridge Island Rowing, Forestry Commission and current chairman of the UAC. He said he was spurred to run because of what he has seen of the city as a UAC member.
“There is way too much money going into supporting the overhead of our city and not enough in actually providing the needed services like efficiently getting water to citizens and fixing the roads,” said Ward. “The City Council should legislate a semi-contract operation that supplies service at reduced rates with no increase in taxes.”
Ward would like to see restructured utilities, a streamlined planning department and focus on fixing the roads.
Robert Dashiell and Sarah Blossom will face off in the South Ward.
Dashiell, who ran for the South Ward in 2007, has maintained a close watch over City Hall since 2006 by either attending or watching on TV nearly every council meeting.
“My top focus is the roads and streets with a financial focus and plan to repair the damage and failing infrastructure,” said Dashiell. “We have made good progress with city financial reserves, but we still have less then what we should have for a city of our size.”
Dashiell wants to see the city continue to live on a frugal budget while running island utilities more efficiently, finish the Shoreline Master Plan update on time and improve relations between the community and the police department.
He said his temperament and ability to listen will be important qualities on the council.
Sarah Blossom has deep family ties to the island, and wants to use her family history to focus on the big picture of island needs. Blossom grew up on the island, and returned to manage the Lynwood Commons after obtaining a law degree.
She has participated extensively in the agricultural land use code update, and wants to see a return to core services and a more efficient planning and permitting process.
“I have a compassion for people and a willingness to listen to both sides,” said Blossom. “I can always find balance and believe it’s possible to achieve your goal through understanding.”
Blossom said she would like the city to focus more on how the public is actually impacted in city discussions, instead of just how the laws are intended.
Other islanders who filed for elected office include:
• Bainbridge Island School District incumbents Patty Fielding (Dist. 1), John Tawresey (Dist. 2) and Tim Kinkead (Dist. 4) filed and were unopposed.
• Bainbridge Island Fire Department's Commissioner Susan Cohen (Pos. 3) filed and is unopposed.
• Roger Tielman (Pos. 1) and Chris Dew (Pos. 2) were unopposed filing for Kitsap County Sewer District 7's Board of Commissioner.
• Incumbent Kirk Robinson and Ron Luke filed for Commissioner Position 5 on the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District.