Candidates lay down the groundwork for council seat race

For islanders wary that the beginning of campaign season means every street corner and front lawn will soon be decorated with political signs, a few of the candidates, are hoping to botch that tradition early.

A joint-effort from several of the candidates lead to this year's "no eye-sore pledge" to save money, keep garbage out of the landfills and improve the integrity of the race.

So far Barry Peters, Robert Dashiell and Anne Blair have joined in. Others may soon follow.

To get a preview of the 11 candidates vying for four council positions read their questionnaires below.


Kim Hendrickson, 43, 4-year resident

Education: Doctor of Philosophy in progress, political science; Bachelor of Arts in history.

Professional experience: Professor of political science at George Washington University, Rhodes College, and Olympic College; policy center research; current secretary/chief examiner for the city's Civil Service Commission.

Community involvement: board member for the Housing Resources Board; COBI Lodging Tax Advisory Committee; Bainbridge Island Downtown Association; school volunteer; operated an events company that staged “soup kitchen" and the Bainbridge Island Wine Weekend.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"We have a cultural problem. There is a distrust of our government among islanders, and too much tension between citizens and our police department. I intend to address this problem by facing it squarely, and will insist on actions that build community trust: making information easier to access. Providing opportunities for meaningful public input and positive interaction (such as community policing). Welcoming criticism as a source of ideas--and admitting error cheerfully. This is a small, friendly island. I want leadership that puts a high premium on courtesy and collaboration."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: Our resistance to economic development. It's a great thing if we do it in accordance with our scale and values. "Promote: Recreational visitors (especially bicyclists) and eco-friendly businesses. "Develop: More local jobs, more profitable local businesses and a sustainable revenue base."

Steven Bonkowski, 65, 4-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Science in physics, Harvey Mudd College; Master of Science in aerospace engineering, University of Southern California; Economic studies, Claremont Graduate University.

Professional experience: Vice President of Northrop Grumman responsible for consolidating departments and facilities, developing alternate sources for many functions, cutting costs, and streamlining regulations.

Community involvement: Active member of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church, Bainbridge Island Rotary Club and volunteer for The Island Music Center.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"Besides the obvious problems of developing a long-term solution to the repair of our roads, and the maintenance of our infrastructure and our utility problems, I believe we need to finish the restructuring of city government to become more efficient, effective and responsive to our residents and small business owners all while effectively reducing the red tape that results in unnecessary and often costly delays.

"We don’t need to recreate the wheel. We can survey other cities and model our city government around those specific practices that deliver the best service to our community. This can be done even with the reduced revenue our city is facing."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: I would hope to change our citizens perception of city government by improving its transparency. Leveraging off the current City Councilʼs theme of “transparency” the council should require that before a major new regulation can be implemented, the city be required to send to each affected island resident a statement identifying the potential impact that regulation has on that individual resident.

"Promote: I would like to promote all those things that make Bainbridge Island one of the most admired, beautiful, safe and diverse communities, in the nation. Its charming downtown with all our favorite retailers, businesses, restaurants and galleries, and its scenic tree-lined, two-lane roads, bike trails, walking trails, beaches, farmland, gardens and forests.

"Develop: the most important thing we need to develop is a strong underlying economy in order to enhance the tax base and property values."

Barry Peters, 65, 10-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Juris Doctor, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Five Master of Business Administration courses, Temple University.

Professional experience: Business and finance law and employee benefits and compensation; business consulting specialties; governance best practices; pensions and retirement benefits.

Community involvement: Co-founder of Sustainable Bainbridge; Volunteer at Kitsap Dispute Resolution Center; current at-large councilman.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"The main challenge and opportunity is successfully transitioning to what we voted for in 2009 – a council/manager city with professional management, cost-effective solutions to basic needs, collaboration among citizens, council and administration and preserving our island’s character.

"[I want to] continue being part of the solution, not part of the problem. Continue bringing my professional background and experience – and a friendly and neighborly approach – to the transition that we started in earnest last year."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"I would reduce water rates by 45 percent if the city keeps the water utility. More cost-effective management of utilities and roads. Fix urgent problems like Rockaway Beach Road, and the long-awaited safer surface and shoulders for Wing Point Way.

"Promote: Let’s not forget our neighbors with greatest needs, so let’s continue to support our community’s social safety net. And let’s keep our conscientious local court in our community. Let’s keep our police emergency response times as quick as they currently are. I see the city as your public partner for a beautiful, safe, well-maintained and appealing place to live and welcome visitors.

"An approach to governing with more incentives and less regulations. For shorelines, let’s find a reasonable and moderate approach that our shoreline homeowners can live with. Let’s achieve sustainable renewal of roads and infrastructure and the island’s economic vitality. Let’s create additional miles of safer bikeways and walking routes."


Robert Dashiell, 65, 15-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts in business, University of Washington; Master of Business Administration (MBA), Michigan State; Executive MBA, University of Washington; Associate Degree in Photography, Seattle Community College.

Professional Experience: Naval Officer, nuclear submarine qualified; managed Inspector General Inspection Team; Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Saudi Arabia.

Community Involvement: Docent, IslandWood, 2001-present; Bainbridge Island Television volunteer and employee; Garden on Bainbridge in Bloom, 2006;  government (mostly City) observer and commenter.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"Bainbridge is a city that needs to redirect expenditures to getting more infrastructure projects completed; fewer consultant reports and studies and more actually accomplished on the ground.

"Roads need to both be repaired and maintained, and storm water going into Puget Sound isn't any cleaner despite more than $8 million in city expenditures in the last four years. That needs to change.

"Budgets should be driven by a solid plan on what the council wants to accomplish rather then the current process of having no objective plan in place when the city administration formats the budget."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: Budget to projects; work to simplify and make government more efficient; it's a small city with a relatively simple mission and it can be run with less drama and complexity; utilities need major overhaul to make them cost effective to utility ratepayers. City overhead is presently excessive in all three utilities.

"Promote: Public safety has to remain a very high community priority with specific emphasis on keeping property crimes down. Bainbridge has to be a safe place to live. Relationship between police and citizens needs program emphasis.

"Develop: A well-kept and appealing entrance and main street for the day trippers who visit the island and provide a significant economic engine to main street businesses. There are a number of desirable development needs, but most are not likely to happen in the near term because the city has a long climb back to financial stability. Taxpayers have to be told the truth - it's likely to be a relatively lean four years."

Sarah Blossom, 34, 34-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in accounting, Seattle University; Juris Doctor, Seattle University School of Law.

Professional experience: licensed Washington State attorney working at a firm focused on workers’ compensation, maritime law, professional malpractice, personal injury and employment discrimination; Guardian ad Litem in Kitsap County; manger of Lynwood Center Commons, island mixed-use-compleX; administration employee of a water utility.

Community involvement: agricultural code update process; regular council meeting attendee.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"Internal management. The current financial problems certainly explain why our roads are not being fixed now, but the current financial problems do not explain the lack of maintenance in years past. This problem needs to be addressed so that going forward, when there are more funds available, the public can be sure that those funds will be put to good use. Every year the budget includes funds for road maintenance and preservation but it appears that not much is ever accomplished. I think going forward the council needs to address this."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: Our reliance on outside consultants. Certainly, there are situations where the expertise of a consultant is required. However, I think too often consultants are hired to perform work that the City’s own staff should be capable of handling. For example, recently the City’s consultant stated that the City could drop its current water rates by 34 percent. Why did the City have to spend money on a consultant to make that determination? In this case, I believe the city staff, the people who are in charge of the utility and its finances on a daily basis, should have been able to come to that conclusion on their own.

"Promote: I want to promote a sense of security among the residents of Bainbridge that their way of life will not be jeopardized. I want to strike a balance between maintaining what everyone loves about Bainbridge – the characteristics that have kept people here and have brought new people here – and the reality that there will be changes and that we need to accommodate growth.

"Develop: I want to develop a higher level of trust with the public. The council makes decisions that impact peoples’ lives and I think it needs to give greater consideration to the opinions and concerns of those who actually have to bear the burden of those decisions. I want the Council to continue to reach out to the public for input and I want the public to be confident that we are listening to and considering what they have to say."


Joe Levan, 45, 16-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science, Seattle University; Bachelor of Arts in secondary education, Seattle University; Juris Doctor, Seattle University.

Professional experience: municipal attorney; legal consultant for the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington; private practice for municipal law firms; in-house legal team for Sound Transit; congressional aid.

Community involvement: I changed jobs to spend more time with family. Now that my daughter is a bit older, I am ready to devote more of my time to the community, which is why I am seeking this council position.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"City Hall’s main challenge is determining, based on community input, which public services are most appropriately provided by our city government and then attracting and retaining the most qualified and committed employees and volunteers to provide those services. For example, we need to increase our park lands and public trails, foster local business, protect and grow our farming community, upgrade our city’s aging infrastructure, ensure high quality and reasonably priced utility services throughout the island and implement smart growth strategies that balance residential and commercial interests."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: A recurrent theme I have heard over the years is that our city government is not working as a unified team. I would work tirelessly with the council and the administration to develop achievable and measurable goals and foster a City Hall culture that rewards success in meeting those goals.

"I will promote good government. My experience has shown me that we are our government, and I am convinced that government can be a force for good, but only if we define its scope properly and only to the extent it represents the reasoned will of the people it serves.

"Develop: I will seek to develop between City Hall and our residents and businesses a relationship that is healthy and forward looking, but is also informed by all the work and dedication that made us an island-wide city in the first place."

Chris Van Dyk, 58, 20-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Humanities, New College.

Professional experience: Media, Lobbying, & Regulatory Affairs Consultant.

Community involvement: Public activist on issues ranging from parks (artificial turf) to waterfront improvement to taxation for public projects such as NASCAR in Kitsap County. Co-founder of ‘Citizens for More Important Things,’ statewide group working on public stadium construction and funding issues.

1.Other than the city's current financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"Returning transparency and constructive engagement with citizens and voters to City Hall, so Bainbridge citizens will know that when we do get involved, our voices are heard and acknowledged, constructively, by our elected council members. When we are not listened to, we voters will know that there are formal means to bring council decisions before voters for review.

"The recent [municipal] courthouse decisions are but one example. Unlike many cities in Washington State, Bainbridge voters currently do not have that ability - so constructive ‘checks and balances’ on local government decisions do not exist. Bainbridge Island city government can’t do everything for everybody - but we can do good things, and help build a great community for all of us, despite the current financial pressures. The goal is constructive engagement, and moving forward, in an atmosphere of respect and civility."

2.What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change:  Make sure that we have a ‘list of priorities’ for public projects, from ‘more to less important’, especially including road & pedestrian/bicycle pathway repair, that is agreed-upon generally, and well known.

"Promote:  Making the tough decisions—by the Council or by referral to voters - based on objective, non-partisan and non-ideological analysis---so critical projects (especially road and pedestrian/bicycle safety-related projects) either get rejected for their lack of merit or move forward. Most importantly, promote respect and civility with regard to public decision-making.

"Develop: Island-based jobs. More sources of city-based support for schools. More island based jobs. We’re in this recession together, and we’ll get out of it by working together, on Bainbridge and wherever."

John Green, 61, 18-year resident

Education: School in Africa, Australia and England; School of Navigation, Warsash; University of Southampton, England.

Professional experience: 36 years as Entrepreneurial business owner by starting clothing company in England; started a real estate development business.

Community involvement: "land use code update, Design Review Board, citizen activist in workshops, task forces and council meetings.

1. Other than the city's current financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"The main challenge for City Hall, is that it's too big for the community. Revenue was/is never enough to satisfy the huge financial appetite, and now we are at a crossroads. I want to sit with fellow council members and city management, bring 37 years of hands on decision making, to start "outsourcing" (subcontracting) portions of departments, or whole departments, to bring the [departments] into line with private sector costs. I know up to 30% cost benefits, can be achieved.

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: Restructure City Hall to come into line with private sector costs and accountabilities. Includes maintenance, repair and construction, compensation, benefits and responsibility.

"An example: if a department Director/Manager fails to keep a project on budget and on time, according to private sector contracts and best management practices. That Director/Manager must be released from duty/responsibility.

"Promote: economic growth, stability and our survival, demands substantial cost management.

"Develop: a budget can allow you to do anything you like, but you cannot do everything. I want a strategic long-term budget, outlining the key objectives (limit to no more than 3-4), strict limiting of expectations, monthly monitoring to allow performance timelines and strict cash-on-hand reporting at each quarter. We need to show the credit agencies that it is not business as usual at City Hall. I want a minimum of five percent annual revenue, every year, allocated to an emergency fund, not to be used, without council authorization."

Dave Ward, 63, 20-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Science in biology, Baldwin-Wallace College; Master of Arts in botany, emphasis in plant ecology, Miami University; Master of Business Administration, University of Montana.

Professional experience: 25 years in geospatial industry in operations, management and technical sales, including aerial photography, satellite imagery, LIDAR, digital elevation models and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Community involvement: current chair of Utility Advisory Committee; current co-chair of Cave Neighborhood Community Council; city Forestry Committee; former board member for Housing Resource Board; Bainbridge Island Rowing; board member of University of Washington, Precision Forestry Cooperative.

1. Other than the city's financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"We must preserve and protect our neighborhoods. The adjoining neighborhoods need to be involved in issues that impact them much earlier in the process. The current approach, in both planning and public works, is to involve them much too late in projects. This leads to major conflicts and is inefficient. The solution to this is to restructure the Planning and public works department. This would show that we are embracing a truly collaborative process and their input is important."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: The level of transparency with the city needs to be increased. Citizens need to be able to easily follow city projects and processes that are important to them. Most city documents should be easily available on the web.

"Promote: We need to promote the participation of qualified citizens in our city committees and we need to support these committees. We need to use tax incentives to promote better low impact businesses.

"Develop: Every neighborhood needs to have a level of organization that can be its voice for issues that are under consideration in City Hall."


Anne Blair, 34-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Washington; on-going training/certification in group facilitation, mediation, and parliamentary procedure.

Professional experience: organizational change, strategic planning and financial and capital budget oversight.

Community involvement: Board of Directors with Bainbridge Public Library; Olympic College; Leadership Kitsap; Puget Sound Restoration Fund, Children’s Hospital; City of Bainbridge Salary Commission; Bainbridge Arts and Humanities Council; and Bainbridge Community Foundation.

1.Other than the city’s current financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"Islanders want to understand decisions made by our city staff and council. They want to know promptly the what and why of a decision, as well as a clear expectation about when, how and who is responsible for implementing that decision. City Hall is challenged to provide understandable and timely information about the finances and land-use policies, questions and permits especially. I propose the staff and the council firmly tie the city’s budget to a community-built, council-approved strategic plan. A brief oral and written update showing that link between plan and budget should hold a regular place on the council meeting agendas and be posted on the City’s website."

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Change: community distrust and frustration with city government; community skepticism and worry about the state of city finances.

"Promote: neighborhood conversations hosted by council and staff to involve residents in setting priorities for a strategic plan with annual work plans tied closely to the biennial budget. Use of a Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee to draw upon the expertise and interest of additional Island residents during development of future biennial budgets.

"Develop: community-wide commitment to developing, adhering to and regularly updating a strategic plan for the City of Bainbridge Island. Increase the number of island-residents with deep understanding of the city budget and its links to the strategic plan."

Melanie M. Keenan, 51, 9-year resident

Education: Bachelor of Science in geology, Colorado State University; Post-graduate studies in hydrogeology, and ceramics, California State University, Fullerton and Long Beach.

Professional experience: Registered Geologist and Hydrogeologist; environmental consultant.

Community involvement: Current commissioner-appointed Vice Chair of the Kitsap County Food & Farm Policy Council; 4-H volunteer as Master Gardener Educator; authored the Bainbridge Sole Source Aquifer Petition approved by the EPA; Board member for Bainbridge Conservation Voters.

1. Other than the city's current financial problems, what do you see as the main challenge facing City Hall? How do you propose to solve it?

"The main challenges facing city hall are connected to our financial health. We live on an Island with finite resources – both natural and fiscal – and it is imperative that Council makes their long-term management a priority as our island grows.  We need to renew efforts towards our change in government by living within our means and concentrating on the basics to address fundamental infrastructure responsibilities, and explore sharing services with neighboring communities.

2. What would you hope to change, promote and develop as a council member?

"Bring a common sense approach to our fiscal and environmental issues to steer our island into the future while preserving our unique island character. Develop business interests for a healthy tax base to promote what makes Bainbridge such a great place to live.

"Change: Streamline our government functions and get back to basics. We must act to prioritize the spending we can realistically support.

"Promote: Address process to allow for more inclusive citizen involvement to better define community priorities for the majority of islanders, from young families to our growing senior population. This will insure the council is working towards achievable universal goals. It is vital for our economic health that all city departments work in an open, transparent and cooperative manner with Bainbridge citizens.

"Develop: Develop better standards for project implementation, planning and management to make the most of our tax revenues in uncertain times."




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