"Mayoral hopefuls woo businessIn their first joint appearance, the candidates cite their concern for Winslow."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 4:03 PM
"Agreeing that a vital downtown core is a critical element of the island's quality of life, two mayoral candidates tried to persuade Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce members that they know what the city must do to enhance local business.The business community has been somewhat neglected, and we need to bring them into more participation, mayoral candidate Chris Llewellyn said in a face-off before chamber members Thursday.Her opponent, Darlene Kordonowy, said that many of the issues facing the business community call for decisions from a source other than the mayor's office.The mayor doesn't make a lot of the decisions (that impact business), Kordonowy said, but the mayor can set priorities, say downtown business is important and we need to pay close attention.The debate, before a standing-room crowd at the monthly chamber luncheon, was the first joint public appearance of the campaign for the two candidates. The two gave opening and closing statements, fielded questions from moderator Kevin Dwyer and the audience, and had a chance to question each other.The differences were at least as much stylistic as substantive. Both put in plugs for the open-space bond issue on the the November ballot, talked about the need for downtown parking, including the proposed Town Center garage complex, and said the city's budget for the next few years appears to be in pretty good shape notwithstanding a likely economic downturn.Llewellyn, who owns and operates Custom Sport, a small ski-clothing maker on Miller Road, several times stressed the need for broader citizen involvement in government, and her own ability to engage people in the process.I've worked in the trenches of this community all my life, she said. It's the same (few) people who are involved in most everything, as we see from the fact that so few people are running for office. I think we need to get kids involved, which gets their parents involved.Kordonowy, who was active in the home rule steering committee and the comprehensive plan advisory group, and who has been a planning commissioner for seven years, stressed her knowledge of the community and her vision growing out of the comprehensive plan.The mayor must be informed, decisive and accountable, she said. The comprehensive plan sets out our goals, but we need to implement it.Kordonowy, a North Dakota native, spent four years as a financial analyst for Standard & Poor, and 12 years as a sales representative and account manager for an office-products company, the last four years in Seattle. She commuted from Bainbridge to Seattle for four years, then took what she envisioned as a short break to get to know this community as a volunteer - a stint that has lasted for 12 years.My husband is really excited about the possibility of my getting a paying job, she said. She said her years volunteering at Helpline House, Bainbridge Arts and Crafts and the Bloedel Reserve, together with her work on the comprehensive plan and planning commission, has given her the background she needs for the job.Llewellyn, an island native, said her experience as a clothing designer and business person has taught me to deal with difficult and diverse groups of people.Saying she believes that when you see a need, you pitch in and get something done, she pointed to her work organizing youth swimming and skiing programs. For the past four years, she has been on the park district board, and currently serves as chair.The debate will be televised on Bainbridge Island Broadcasting several times during the upcoming week.In her closing statement, Llewellyn returned to her theme of encouraging business involvement.Economic vitality is the life-blood of the community, she said. I will draw more business participation into government.Kordonowy went back to the comprehensive plan as the source of community vision, and said the challenge for the community is to translate the general objectives of the plan into case-specific decisions.We need to know about choices and trade-offs, what is at issue in each case she said. "