Opinion

Kordonowy for mayor

What is a mayor?

Sage of city hall, and shepherd of the city council; island emissary to regional boards like Kitsap Transit and the health district; seeker of consensus, and court of last resort; a listener; a leader. The people’s official.

In Darlene Kordonowy, the Review sees the qualities necessary for each of those roles, and we give her our endorsement for mayor of Bainbridge Island.

With a decade of dedicated public service behind her, in both political and community spheres, Kordonowy has more than earned the chance to assume the mantle of island leader.

* As chair of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, she was a prime architect of the city’s blueprint for its future;

* As a longtime member and chair of the planning commission, she has worked with planners, developers and citizens to see that blueprint fairly applied;

* As past president of the Helpline House board and a volunteer at that important agency, she knows the challenges faced by all segments of the Bainbridge community.

She also brings a professional background in finance, and is well regarded by those with whom she has worked and served. The mayor’s office is an appropriate next step.

To be sure, the race for the office has been hard fought. Kordonowy’s opponent, Chris Llewellyn, is affable and boasts deep island roots; she has much to offer the the community. But her candidacy poses personal and political entanglements that cannot be ignored.

Her husband, Jim Llewellyn – whom we have endorsed for a second term on the city council, and who would likely be the next council chair – has a record of deriding those who disagree with his wife. He has used the letters column of this newspaper to blast critics of Chris’ early votes on the park board as “ignorant,” and more recently has taken it upon himself to make an issue of her mayoral opponent’s health.

To those who suggest the community would be ill-served by having a married couple as its top executive and senior legislator, the Llewellyns have responded blithely, in essence saying, “Anyone who knows us, knows we’re two different people.”

But the issue is not the Llewellyns; the issue is our local government and citizens’ confidence in its fairness and effectiveness. With a married couple holding the two most influential elected posts in city government, even the appearance of collusion or conflict between executive and council would damage the credibility of both offices for the next four years. Voters are wise to steer clear of such arrangements, regardless of the personalities involved.

This is not to endorse Kordonowy by default; we believe recent candidate forums have demonstrated that she is far more knowledgeable on growth and other issues. As to her health – she suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disorder – it is a non-issue, and would not be an impediment to her service as mayor. We dare say Kordonowy has done more for the community in the past 10 years than those who would try to disqualify her for a personal health challenge of which most have been oblivious during that time.

Earlier in the campaign, we chided Kordonowy for relying too much on her specific knowledge of the Comprehensive Plan, to the exclusion of other tangibles that make a well-rounded candidate. While we still believe she will have much to learn in office – applying her management skills to a challenging leadership role within city hall – her policy expertise will provide a needed critical framework to guide staff and council alike through the decision-making process.

And it is perhaps that mandate – improving citizens’ faith in the fairness and rationality of our public process – that will be the next mayor’s greatest challenge. Having devoted the past decade to shaping our all-island city, Kordonowy looks up to the task. She has earned the right to lead, and we believe she is the best choice for mayor of Bainbridge Island.

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