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UPDATE | Off to the races: Candidates file to run for Bainbridge council seats
The city of Bainbridge Island has seen its fair share of turnaround over the past year.
There’s been the departure of City Manager Brenda Bauer, the resignations of Police Chief Jon Fehlman and Public Works Director Lance Newkirk.
And at year’s end, city hall will say farewell to three councilors: Kirsten Hytopoulos, Debbi Lester and Bob Scales, who have said they will not seek re-election when their four-year terms expire in November.
This week, islanders Robert Bosserman, Arlene Buetow, John Green, Val Tollefson and Roger Townsend have filed as candidates for the city council.
So far, two races are contested: Buetow, 56, and Green, 62, both seek Lester’s Central Ward, District 5 seat.
And on Wednesday, Townsend, 45, registered his candidacy for the District 3 South Ward against Bosserman.
Bosserman, 70, filed as a candidate for Hytopoulos’ South Ward this week after announcing last month that he would run. And Tollefson, 61, registered this week in the race for Scales’s North Ward seat, also following through on his promise to run.
While each of the four would be council newcomers if elected, none are complete strangers to city politics.
Buetow is the former president of the North Bainbridge Water Company, a water utility that was sold to the Poulsbo-based Kitsap Public Utility District in 2002. She also ran unsuccessfully for the District 1 position on the Kitsap Public Utility District board in 2010.
Buetow, who has lived on Bainbridge for more than 20 years, is currently chairwoman of the city’s Utility Advisory Committee.
“I’ve been actively involved in city government for the last four years, so I have a lot of ideas,” Buetow said. “I care a great deal about keeping Bainbridge affordable and I care a great deal about economic development and I would like to see a candidate for city council that demonstrates some fiscal responsibility.”
Buetow has made headlines in recent years as a proponent of outsourcing the city’s water system to the Kitsap Public Utility District, and her service on the city’s Utility Advisory Committee has been controversial at times.
Her most recent reappointment to the UAC in June 2012 was opposed by two city council members, who said Buetow was too political to serve in the advisory position, and her reappointment prompted fellow UAC committee member Bob Bosserman to resign in protest.
In March, John Green announced he would run for the city council. He officially filed as a candidate with the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office on Monday.
Green has been a real estate developer on Bainbridge Island since 1994. He too is no stranger to the island’s government, he noted.
“I’ve been active at city hall since 1995, as a volunteer, at various levels,” Green said when he announced his candidacy.
“My policies are very, very simple,” he said. “My whole message is focused on the basics. I’m all for reducing the size of government and devoting government time to the needs of community.”
Green said he helped with the most recent update to the city’s municipal code and has also contributed to developing the Housing Design Development Program.
Green also spent 6 1/2 years on the city’s Design Review Board, but stepped down from the board when he ran for the Central Ward council seat in 2010 against David Ward. Ward ultimately won and now sits on the council.
Bosserman seeks to take over the south ward seat on the council, a position his niece, Hytopoulos, currently holds.
While Bosserman served on the UAC from 2010-2011, his entry into the council race will be his first shot at elected office.
Bosserman is a former financial services executive and has previously served the city as a volunteer. He was on the city’s Utility Advisory Committee for a year after moving to Bainbridge Island in 2010.
The candidate said he hopes Bainbridge voters will stay engaged with city hall after the election hubbub fades.
“Of course, in this filing week, the attention of citizens is naturally on the growing list of candidates for election to city council, school district, fire department and parks district. My hope for the Island is that this interest can grow and be sustained throughout not only the election season but beyond,” Bosserman said.
“Imagine what great ideas and other useful citizen input could result if we all took just 15 minutes a week to think about what we, individually and collectively, could do to improve life on the Island. And then became advocates of these ideas to our family, friends and elected officials,” he said. “We could do amazing good for the community.”
Townsend is a relative newcomer to Bainbridge. A resident since 2005, Townsend says the island’s generous spirit has made him want to give back to the community.
“I am running for city council because I want to contribute to the community that has given my family so much,” he said.
“I think our community is ready to move forward on issues of concern, including the electric utility grid, disaster preparedness, water usage, development density, and implementation of the non-motorized transportation plan. I look forward to participating in positive, reasonable dialogue, and developing solutions that make sense,” he said.
Townsend is a founding member of the Seattle-based law firm Breskin, Johnson & Townsend, which specializes in disputes among employees, consumers and businesses. He also serves as associate director of the Federal Bar Association’s Civil Rights Clinic.
Townsend’s said he would be “dedicated to making the city fiscally responsible with a smaller, more efficient government while preserving the essential features that make this island community our home: maintaining good schools, protecting our natural environment, supporting island businesses, and fostering our small town atmosphere.”
Val Tollefson, who announced his candidacy in April, has lived on the island since 1977, and is eager to contribute to city politics.
“Our current council and city manager have made great progress, I believe, toward restoring the credibility and functionality of our local government. I would like to be part of that continuing process, and am ready to get to work,” Tollefson said in April.
A former trial lawyer, Tollefson was the managing partner of his own law firm for more than a decade.
He became involved with the Bainbridge nonprofit “One Call For All” in 1988, and more recently, served on the board for the Bainbridge Public Library and the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.
Review writer Henri Gendreau contributed to this report.