The pack of candidates to fill the vacant Bainbridge Island City Council seat swelled to eight by noon Friday.
Six more islanders submitted applications late this week for the Central Ward District 4 council position: Rob Evans, Nathan Daum, Marshall Tappen, Mark Jordan, Leslie Schneider and Mark A. Epstein.
The six hopefuls join Wayne Roth and Robert L. Drury as candidates for the seat.
Evans is a Bainbridge resident since 2013. He has a degree in computer science and is a Princeton University graduate, and has worked as a software engineer and project manager. He also once ran a small food cooperative in New York City, where he grew up, according to his application for the council.
In his cover letter, Evans said he decided to seek an appointment to the council after seeing an article in the Bainbridge Review that noted Roth, a former councilman, was hoping to rejoin the council.
“Mr. Roth was convincingly defeated 58 percent to 42 percent by Rasham Nassar in the 2017 Election for City Council Position 5; the fact that he now seeks appointment to the council struck me as rather presumptuous,” Evans wrote.
“If appointed, I will vote however Ms. Nassar votes for the duration of my term,” Evans added. “At the very least, we know that a majority of the Central Ward has chosen to be represented by her until 2012; doubling her influence on the council seems reasonable considering the alternatives.”
When asked what strength he would bring to the council, Evans answered: “Having pledged to vote in lockstep with Ms. Nassar, I would be able to serve as an independent voice, even (or especially) if I disagreed with her — an ombudsman of sorts.”
Evans also expressed disappointment in the appointment process, calling it “fundamentally undemocratic.”
“I realize that the council is bound by state law, but with more than 18 months remaining in the term, I believe that there should be a special election to fill the seat. Barring that, I think that the vote of Position 5 should be pegged to that of the only other representative of the Central Ward,” he wrote.
Daum is a one-year resident of the island, and has worked as a real property agent for the city of Seattle’s Department of Transportation since June 2017.
Previously, he was founding manager of UW Startup Hall, a coworking community for Seattle tech entrepreneurs.
Daum has a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington, and an undergraduate’s degree in history from Western Washington University.
His previous community involvement includes serving as land-use chairman for the Leschi Community Council (2008-2010) and transportation co-chairman of the Uptown Alliance (2003-2004). He has also been an advocacy and policy coordinator for Futurewise.
Daum said growth, transportation and the environment are the highest priorities for the city, and was eager to put his “passion for the public interest” to work.
“It has always been a dream of mine to hold public office,” Daum wrote in his application. “I’ve worked closely with and campaigned for friends who’ve won political positions. I’ve been encouraged to seek elective office by mentors many times throughout my career who have found my passion and character traits a good match for the job. For the first time in my life, that advice seems undeniably correct.”
Tappen, an island resident since 2013, is a former associate professor at the University of Central Florida, is a principal applied scientist at Amazon.com in Seattle. He has a doctorate’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006, 2002), and his undergraduate degree is also in computer science (Brigham Young University, 2000).
“As growth pressure in Seattle continues to spill into Bainbridge Island, our community needs to adapt our municipal code to preserve the culture and environment that makes BI special. I believe that I can be a strong advocate for both the residents of the Central Ward and the entire island as the council explores policies that will determine how the island will grow over the next decade,” Tappen wrote in his application.
He said the top priorities for the city are choosing a new police station site, planning for the Suzuki property and reforming city housing policies.
Jordan has been a Bainbridge resident for more than three years. He is the president of Taragren, a Bainbridge-based company that designs and makes bamboo flooring, panels and veneers. He was previously director of sales in Seattle for Haworth, an architectural interior firm. He has a bachelor’s in business management from the University of Redlands (1990).
“Bainbridge Island is truly a gem and I have grown to love the island and the community more each day,” Jordan wrote in his application. “I know this is where I want to live for the rest of my years and I want to do my part to contribute to the conservation and beautification of the island and make it a better place than when I arrived here.”
Jordan said the city’s top three priorities are the development moratorium, roadside improvements for bikers and walkers, and to balance growth with the environment.
“There are numerous issues that are important to the city, but the recent six-month moratorium and how the city needs to balance growth versus the vision, guiding principles, goals and policies of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. In addition, finding ways to fund road shoulders to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists is extremely important. Finally, how to balance natural resources and sustainability while still allowing for growth. Not an easy task to get one’s arms around but with the proper brain trust on the council, I feel strongly that appropriate plans can be developed,” he added.
Schneider is the cofounder of OfficeXPats, Kitsap County’s first coworking business center. She was the co-founder of Ignite Bainbridge, a three-year series of speaker workshops on the island that ran from 2012-14.
She was also the cofounder of a 27-unit co-housing community in Seattle that’s now called Jackson Place Cohousing.
Schneider, an island resident since 2009, is currently director of partner marketing for FacilityQuest in Alameda, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of California.
She said her experience in consensus decision-making would be an asset to the council, as well as her skills as a strong communicator.
When asked about the city’s highest priorities, Schneider mentioned code enforcement, climate change and affordable housing.
“Too many people who work on the island can’t afford to live here. With my experience in housing construction combined with my love of creating environments that support thriving communities, I hope to contribute to the solutions and help all islanders get behind this need,” she wrote.
On climate change: “I am motivated to help develop the Bainbridge response to climate change and make it a model that other cities can emulate.”
Mark A. Epstein
Epstein has been a Bainbridge resident since 2007. He has a long history in public policy, having served as a senior consultant for a U.S. State Department contractor in Turkey (2013-15), for USAID projects in Kabul, Afghanistan (2010) and Iraq (2005-07).
He has a doctorate’s degree in economic and social history from the University of Washington (1979), a master’s in Near East languages (UW, 1974) and a bachelor’s in arts and sciences (UW, 1971).
“I have been involved with public service and public policy since my university days and throughout much of my adult life, and have always felt a commitment to the public good,” Epstein wrote in his application.
He said he is interested in “making a contribution to developing a clear, achievable program for the island’s water resources that could be widely accepted within the community … Likewise, helping to set us on a course toward more efficient transportation that is affordable and environmentally sound, while also reducing the ever-increasing level of traffic congestion would also be among my priorities.”
Bainbridge will continue to accept application packets for the Central Ward council seat through 4 p.m. Friday, April 13.
The council will conduct candidate interviews at a special city council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19 and pick a new member that night.
The new council member will take the oath of office at the council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 24.