Bainbridge candidates bring business and public service approach to dais | 2013 ELECTION, NORTH WARD BAINBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL

Dick Haugan and Val Tollefson square off at the first candidate forum of the elections, hosted by the American Legion. The two are in the running for the North Ward, Position 7 seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council. currently held by Councilman Bob Scales. - Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review
Dick Haugan and Val Tollefson square off at the first candidate forum of the elections, hosted by the American Legion. The two are in the running for the North Ward, Position 7 seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council. currently held by Councilman Bob Scales.
— image credit: Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review

A single distinction stands between the two in the running for the North Ward seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

On one end, Dick Haugan, 69, says he’s running on issues, not platitudes.

On the other, Val Tollefson, 71, says instead of an agenda he’s doing this because he’s committed to public service.

“I think the city council has been ill-served in recent years by people who had come to the job because they had a mission,” Tollefson said.

Not having an outright stance on particular controversial issues is what makes him the better candidate, he explains. If elected, it will give him a better perspective to serve the community, rather than spending time on issues that have already gone through the process.

“The last time around there were a number of people that were elected on the strength of the uproar over the water utility issue,” Tollefson said.

“Not to say that the water utility wasn’t important, but they spent an inordinate amount of time fighting over that and precious little time attending to long-range planning and things that they acknowledge that they’d like to do, but they’re just distracted,” he said.

Haugan on the other hand, says that in contrast to Tollefson’s “status quo” approach to the council race, he has dug into the issues.

As stated on his candidate website, these are the sewer utility, Winslow Tomorrow, Rockaway Beach Road, the city park bathroom, Wyatt Way and Wing Point Road, fiscal control, stormwater utility funds and the Shoreline Master Program.

Critics of Haugan’s campaign pamphlet say too many of the issues he brings forward are spending problems that no longer exist at city hall, since several of them took place four city managers ago and during the old council-mayor form of government that prompted an overwhelming vote to change governance at city hall.

Despite this, Haugan says that these issues are examples of fiscal irresponsibility.

“I would say wasting money and not getting the people’s work done are kind of the prime drivers of what I’m doing,” Haugan said. “And how I’m different from my opponent, is that I’m a businessman.”

Haugan has many years of experience in marketing, advertising and database.

In the same tone, Haugan likens his potential election to the council to a business marriage.

To solve the city’s business problems, he says, is to be in the company of business-minded council members.

“I think it’s time to get these problems fixed,” he said. “It’s not just being a nice guy.”

After meeting with three of the remaining council members of whom he didn’t know prior to the race — Dave Ward, Sarah Blossom and Steve Bonkowski — he knows that since they all have business backgrounds they will be compatible.

“I think if you got the right group together, you should be fine,” Haugan said. “If I thought we were incompatible, you and I would not be talking right now. I wouldn’t have done it, because that core group of people has to get along. You don’t have to agree with everything, but there has to be give and take.”

When asked what he would do if there is disagreement on the dais, he makes a gesture like he is cocking a gun.

But, he responded, “If you truly get along, you win some, you lose some. You accept the will of the group.”

The nice-guy mentality Haugan considers a handicap in getting the city’s work done is an attribute apparent in Tollefson.

Tollefson comes from a background of decades of public service. And he says, it’s time that he exercise a positive influence in council to help strain out its bad reputation.

“I think that all anybody can do is to try to lead by example,” Tollefson said.

One thing he says he wants to do if he is elected is to have a rotating calendar of one-on-one, informal coffee breaks, so to speak, with each council member. He explained that he would work with the Open Public Meetings Act to make sure it does not constitute a quorum and that it would remain a way to develop relationships between each member.

“And the other thing, and this is maybe really silly, but I’d like to have those people when they come in to sit down at a city council meeting to have to sit down in a different seat every week,” Tollefson said.

“You know I’ve talked to all these people and they all have a good intent for the city,” he continued. “I mean they’re not doing this because there are big bucks. I’d just try to be a positive influence.”

Tollefson is a former trial lawyer and has had extensive experience and involvement with non profit organizations around the island.

He served as president for One Call for All in its earlier days, as the first chair for the Bainbridge Island Harbor Commission, two years as the president of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, and is a founding member and current board member for the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association.

Also as an ex-Navy pilot and small airplane owner, up until the last couple of years he has volunteer piloted for Angel Flight, an air transportation service for people with special medical needs, and for LightHawk, which works to promote environmental protection through the perspective of flight.

Likewise, Haugan is also a certified pilot and has been flying since he was 14 years old.

Still, his involvement ranges from the Helpline House and affordable housing development to regional education with the Academy for Precision Learning and as a former computer science teacher at Seattle University. He also serves as a chairman for the International ECHO Awards under the Direct Marketing Association.

Haugan and Tollefson are running for the North Ward seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

There are no incumbents in the 2014 council elections.

Council members Bob Scales, Kirsten Hytopoulos and Debbi Lester have decided not to seek reelection.

In the running for the remaining two council positions are Dee McComb and Roger Townsend for the South Ward, and Arlene Buetow and Wayne Roth for the Central Ward.

Under Bainbridge Island’s council-manager form of government, the elected candidates will serve on the council in a solely legislative manner. Their duties include enacting ordinances during the year and establishing budgetary policies.

Each elected candidate receives a salary of $12,000 annually before taxes. The elected mayor receives slightly more.

Richard “Dick” Haugan

Age: 69

Occupation: Marketing, advertising and database.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Math ’66 at Bradley University, Master of Business Administration ’76 at Seattle University.

Prior public office: None.

Community involvement: Helpline House; Autism regionally through the Academy for Precision Learning; Trust for Public Land; Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce.

Fun fact: Haugan has been flying airplanes since he was 14, and is a single engine pilot. He is also open water scuba certified, a ski area owner, sailor, plays piano and guitar and is interested in vintage cars.



Val Tollefson

Age: 71

Occupation: Former trial lawyer and mediator.

Education: Bachelor’s of Arts ’64 and Juris Doctor ’73 at the University of Washington.

Prior public office: None.

Community involvement: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Ethical Review Committee; Bainbridge Foundation (now Bainbridge Island One Call For All); Bainbridge Island Juvenile Diversion Board; Bainbridge Island Harbor Management Advisory Committee; Bainbridge Island Harbor Commission; Volunteer Attorney, Northwest Justice Project; Bainbridge Island Wyckoff Acquisition Task Force; Friends of Pritchard Park, Co-Chair; Bainbridge Public Library; Bainbridge Island Land Trust; Co-Chair, Campaign for Hilltop parkland acquisition; founding member, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association; Pro Bono Civil Rights Panel, U.S. District Court, Seattle; Pilot Program Volunteer Attorney, Civil Rights Legal Clinic; Kitsap Sun editorial board, 2012.

Fun fact: As an ex-Navy pilot and long time small airplane owner, Tollefson has volunteered for many years with Angel Flight to provide air transportation for people with special medical needs and for LightHawk to provide volunteer flights in support of their mission, which is to champion environmental protection through the perspective of flight.


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