Tooloee makes surprise bid for mayor

The field is now four in the race for the city’s highest office.

Saying he hopes to invigorate public debate over challenges facing the Bainbridge community, City Councilman Nezam Tooloee announced a surprise bid for the mayor’s office Friday.

Toolooe, 18 months into his first term from the council’s north ward, promised an “unusual campaign” that would focus on issues and have nothing at all to say about incumbent Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

“My running is in no way an attack on Darlene or an attack on her performance, or the performance of her management team,” said Tooloee, who described his professional relationship with the mayor as “warm.”

Tooloee said his three campaign themes would be putting the city on a sound financial course, being proactive on growth so it doesn’t have an “adverse impact” on quality of life and making the city an “equal partner” with Washington State Ferries and other outside agencies.

Kordonowy said Friday afternoon that Tooloee’s entrance has changed her view of how the campaign – which had already brought out two other hopefuls in city code enforcement officer Will Peddy and certified public accountant Michael Berry might unfold.

“As I’ve seen, (Tooloee) can capture the debate by force of his personality,” she said. “How I run my campaign and debate with him on those issues is something I’m going to have to think about.”

Filing week contained other surprises and new faces as well.

In Bainbridge Island City Council races, Frank Renna, Jr., and Jeannie McMacken filed to challenge incumbent Debbie Vancil in the north ward.

In the central ward, Kjell Stoknes and Doug Smith will square off for the seat now held by Debbie Vann, who did not file for re-election, county elections officials said.

Businessman John Doerschuk stepped forward to challenge incumbent Bill Knobloch.

Christopher Snow, who had announced his candidacy several weeks ago, was handed the south-end council seat held by Christine Rolfes, who is stepping down after six years. No other hopefuls emerged for that position.

Michael Foley filed unopposed to replace Susan Sivitz on the school board, as Sivitz opted out of a third term. On the one open park board seat, incumbent Kirk Robinson faces the challenge of Mary Fearey.

Finally, David Coatsworth and Michael F. Adams filed for the fire board seat being vacated by Glen Tyrrell.

A number of candidates – including Doerschuk, Smith and Fearey – didn’t step forward until the filing deadline of 4:30 p.m. at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard.

Nor did Tooloee, who announced his intentions to Kordonowy Friday morning.

Of his “unusual campaign,” Tooloee said he will not raise money, run political advertisements, print brochures or seek endorsements; he may launch a website to explain his views.

He will, though, participate in all organized debates and forums, and also intends to meet with community leaders and groups.

“If I’m not elected, at least I’ll make sure that a vigorous debate of the issues has been had,” Tooloee said. “That in itself will enhance our ability to deal with them.”

* * * * *

The field

Candidates running for local office in the fall elections include:

Mayor: Darlene Kordonowy (inc.), William K. “Will” Peddy, Michaels C. “Michael” Berry, Nezam Tooloee

City Council, District 3 (South Ward): Christopher Snow

City Council, District 4 (Central Ward): Bill Knobloch (inc.), John Doerschuk

City Council, District 5 (Central Ward): Kjell Stoknes, Doug Smith

City Council, District 7: Debbie Vancil (inc.), Frank Renna, Jr., Jeannie McMacken

School Board, District 2: Michael Foley

School Board, District 5: Mary Curtis (inc.)

Park Board, Position 5: Kirk Robinson (inc.), Mary K. Fearey

Fire Board, position 3: David Coatsworth, Michael F. Adams

Sewer District No. 7 commission, position 3: Gayle Ashton (inc.)

Contact information for each candidate is at

* * * * *

North ward race

City Council candidate Jeannie Macken, 51, is a 25-year marketing communication veteran who runs her own business out of her home.

She has been involved wherever she has lived, and now has reached a point where she can devote more time to civic affairs, she said.

“I’m concerned about (Bain­bridge) becoming Anyplace, U.S.A,” Mc­Mac­ken said. “We’re slowly becoming a bedroom community, and I think it’s important that we think differently about our future.

“I believe in citizen participation in the town you live in,” she added. “I feel it’s important to give back to the community.”

In her mid-20s, she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board of education in a Connecticut town, and was then elected to the position for a six-year term. She also served two terms as justice of the peace in that community and on various ad hoc committees in every place she has lived.

While living in Edmonds, she was asked by the mayor there to put together marketing programs to stimulate business development and helped in the building of a community cultural center on Edmonds’ waterfront (which has not yet been completed).

Since moving to Bainbridge with her husband in 1999, she has been active on the executive committee and board of the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council and its committee looking at a possible cultural facility on the island. Professionally and privately, she helped the Bainbridge Island Land Trust with the Pritchard Park acquisition and the Japanese American Nikkei Memorial.

In Edmonds, McMacken says, she provided creative and strategic thinking, which she brings to her candidacy along with her past experience tackling issues similar to ones which the island faces today – lifestyle issues, economic development, health and safety and growth management.

As a creative way to attract business, she posits attracting “think tanks” or marine biologists who could develop a station here to study changes in the Puget Sound. She also cites a recent article about a public-private venture on Vashon Island to start a wind farm to provide the island’s power.

“I would hope we could use the environment as a jumping off point for some of these industries we want to attract,” she said. “I think we need to protect what we’ve got. It’s important to keep our eyes on the past to find solutions for the future.”

Asked if she considers herself a “green” candidate, she describes herself as “yellow-green.”

“I think there are shades of green,” McMacken said. “The environment trumps other issues almost every time, but the solution may be one to two degrees from the obvious center.”

Incumbent councilwoman Debbie Vancil had previously declared her candidacy. Challenger Frank Renna Jr. could not be reached for a comment on Friday.

– Tina Lieu

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