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Bainbridge mayor eyeing reelection run

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy is proud of bolstering social services and the arts. She has until June to decide whether to make a historic attempt at a third term as mayor of Bainbridge. - Brad Camp/ Staff Photo
Mayor Darlene Kordonowy is proud of bolstering social services and the arts. She has until June to decide whether to make a historic attempt at a third term as mayor of Bainbridge.
— image credit: Brad Camp/ Staff Photo

Kordonowy talks about her legacy, upcoming form-of-government vote.

After almost eight years in office, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy is proud of her accomplishments and still has a strong vision for the city.

But implementing that vision may require a third term as mayor of Bainbridge Island.

“I am not willing to make the decision publicly yet and I haven’t made my mind up 100 percent,” Kordonowy said. “My desire to run again is very strong.”

Kordonowy, 61, has been grappling with the question and is expected to make a formal announcement on the decision soon.

“I will say it’s a very difficult one,” she said. “I would like to continue this work. There are some things I haven’t achieved yet that are now under way.”

Major projects such as the Winslow Way reconstruction and redefining the city’s work priorities top the list of goals she would like to see through during a potential third term.

With a city council she feels she can collaborate with and a leaner government structure, Kordonowy believes accomplishing those projects are realistic.

“The financial crisis has really brought the city back into a more manageable set of priorities,” she said. “Now we should be planning what we can accomplish in the near future, within our means. I’d like to be part of that.”

During her time as the island’s executive, she is most proud of long-range planning, a broader implementation of the city’s comprehensive plan and her representation on numerous regional boards and committees.

She also praises the taxpayer support for community service organizations, which was bolstered during her tenure.

“I am very proud of my record with Health, Housing and Human Services and the Arts and Humanities Council... those are strong values of the community,” she said. “We’ve established a structure and a system that worked and recognized those community values.”

But her tenure doesn’t come without some missteps she is willing to admit.

“My biggest mistake was allowing Winslow Tomorrow to really grow.”

Kordonowy cites the integration of a downtown parking garage and Washington State Ferries’ plans for a terminal upgrade, as components that ballooned the cost and were beyond the scope of the original project.

“I tried to prevent the tail wagging the dog, but integrating their planning with our planning really distracted us and pushed (the project) farther out,” she said.

Any potential run for office would be contingent upon voters rejecting a form-of-government switch to the council-manager system in May. That switch would remove the office of mayor from Bainbridge Island government.

Kordonowy sees the vote, partially, as a referendum on her tenure.

“Oh, definitely, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind,” she said. “People have differences of opinion about both my style, what I have accomplished and what I haven’t been successful with.

“I don’t mind the criticism, but some of the nastiness and what it has done to divide this community is really ugly. I don’t want to go through another four years of that, or contribute to that divisiveness.”

During the first form-of-government vote in 1993, Kordonowy said she supported the council-manager form of government. She now feels with a city administrator position a switch to the council-manager system would be redundant. She also questions how well a divided city council would function with a manager.

“If I choose not to run, I will be out there leading the campaign to keep the form of government the same,” she said.

If Kordonowy announces her intention to run, she will be the second candidate to throw their hat into the race. In February, former city council member Bob Scales announced his candidacy.

The vote for a new mayor would occur during the Nov. 3 general election if the form-of-government vote fails to turn the city into a council-manager structure. If the form-of-government vote passes, Kordonowy would become the eighth member on the city council until the end of the year.

All office candidates must file with the Kitsap County Auditor during the first week of June to appear on the November ballot.

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