What to expect of new council? Goodbye water, for one | Our Opinion | Dec. 9

If one can believe the campaign rhetoric offered by three – Steve Bonkowski, Sarah Blossom and Dave Ward – of the four islanders who will be sworn in early next month as members of the City Council, the city is in for an abrupt change in the way it does business. New councilor Anne Blair may also join the swing away from the current council’s leadership style, but she may be resistant to a fixed agenda to begin  her four-year term.

The four members who have dominated the council during the last two years will be reduced to Bob Scales and Kirsten Hytopoulos, each of whom have served as mayor pro-tem for a year. And there appears to be a good chance that Debbi Lester, the third remaining sitting council member, leans more toward the incoming trio than Scales and Hytopoulos.

So what will happen? For one, let’s hope the new council will quickly put the Civil Service Commission and Ethics Board controversies in the rearview mirror. What a waste of time and energy those have been for the city.

The focus needs to be on regaining the trust and involvement of the community, which was supposed to be the primary thrust with the approval of a council-manager form of government. Unfortunately, Scales has acted for two years like the mayor he has always wanted to be, rather than just one of seven council members working openly to come to a consensus.

Other than the possibility of new leadership changes in the city administration, likely the first move will be to transfer the water utility to the Kitsap Public Utility District. The council has approved the Utility Advisory Committee’s recommendation to keep the utility and decrease the Winslow ratepayers fees by 45 percent. But the UAC can revisit the action next year if necessary.

Prior to the vote, Bonkowski disagreed with the current council by making it clear he favored transferring the utility, and it appears there are at least three others who agree with him. It may be the first of many shots across the bow as the new council takes over.

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