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Two for the road: Hytopoulos, Scales won't seek re-election
Three Bainbridge Island city council members are looking ahead to the next election season.
But not all will battle to keep their seats on the dais.
The Bainbridge Island City Council has one year under its belt with four new members following a game-changing 2011 election. Three council seats — currently held by Kirsten Hytopoulos, Debbi Lester and Bob Scales — will be up for a vote in November.
At least two seats will be uncontested by incumbents.
“I never intended to run for a third term,” Scales said. “I accomplished all the things I wanted to do in the first two years.”
Scales was on the city council from 2004 to 2007. He came back for another term in 2010.
“After my first term I didn’t intend to run again,” Scales said. “And then I got upset with the government because of what they were doing with finances.”
After his 2010 return, Scales said he initially wanted to run for mayor, but since the form of government changed, he decided to work through the council to fix the problems he saw with the city.
Scales, who represents the north ward, said that the first two years on council were very productive toward settling the city’s finances and easing into a council-manager form of government. But now the job is finished, he said, and it is time for someone else to have a turn.
“It’s always good to have new blood, new ideas and a fresh perspective,” he said. “I’m finding that when you’ve been around eight years that you see the same issues come up over and over again, you have the same discussions, the same retreats, and it’s hard to get as enthusiastic as you were the first time you heard those issues.”
He isn’t alone in the decision to step down.
“I’m not running. I’ve known that for quite a while,” Hytopoulos said.
Hytopoulos, representing the south ward, joined the council in 2010, along with Scales and Lester.
Her reasons for stepping down are far different from her colleague, though.
“When I was first elected I was married. I didn’t plan on getting divorced and starting a business,” Hytopoulos said. “My life circumstances have changed.”
Hytopoulos said that working on the council is a full-time job and many council members work it around their careers.
Her own life has taken a new direction and she has started a new business as a collaborative divorce attorney.
When it comes time to step down, she’ll divert her energy to other priorities.
“I have to be devoted to my law practice and my kids,” she said.
Lester, the final council member who began her term in 2010, is giving a firm “maybe” on whether she’ll run again for the central ward seat.
“I’m definitely considering it,” Lester said. “It takes about three years to understand the complete dynamics, and the role and how to get things done for your community.”
She is certain that there is more that the council can do.
“I’d like to see us reach out to our Legislature more, and have more of a regional connection,” Lester said.
She agrees with Scales that the council has been successful in getting the new form of government up and running.
Scales, however, also said that the council’s progress has slowed. He hopes new members can revive the council’s pace.
“The last year or so has been relatively rough and tumultuous and now we are not getting as much done as I think we have in the past,” Scales said.
He said that the council has been distracted with other tasks, such as finding a new city manager and dealing with the absence of a police chief and city attorney.
“There’s been so much major personnel change, on top of all the budget cuts and reorganization we did in the prior year, and then getting a new council on board,” he said. “I think we are in a holding pattern right now. I think it would be good to get new council members on board to chart whatever direction they want to take.”