Endorsements: Llewellyn, Tooloee for council

Is Bainbridge Island a refuge, or a dynamic, working community?

This strikes us as the essential fulcrum of decision in the Nov. 4

election. The Review tends toward the latter view, and we look to candidates likewise oriented; we therefore urge voters to support Jim Llewellyn and Nezam Tooloee for Bainbridge Island City Council.

Of the two council contests, the most mercurial is for a vacant seat in the newly created southwest ward. It started with a bid by Llewellyn for a return to the council on which he served from 1998-2001; incumbent Pollock – in a move some see as “opponent shopping” – abandoned his own at-large seat to run against Llewellyn, asserting that it would give

voters a choice between “environmental” and “development” concerns.

The Review has endorsed longtime islander Llewellyn for the council in the past, and we do so again here. Through his previous work in office and his activities since, he offers immediate credibility and rapport in

circles that too often feel crowded away from the civic table – business groups, political moderates, and Mom-and-Pop landowners who feel

vulnerable to increasingly stringent regulations. A demonstrated fiscal conservative, Llewellyn also boasts a solid environmental record. He was a vocal backer of the successful $8 million open space bond; he did early work on programs that have seen fruition since he left office, including bike lanes and other non-motorized transportation planning, Ericksen Avenue sidewalks, and farm preservation. Erstwhile colleagues recall his meticulous preparation for issues facing the council. And over his four years in office, he grew to cultivate good working relationships around City Hall; he sees a need for unity of purpose between council and administration, and is offended by the standoffishness and mistrust that the community has witnessed for much of the last two years.

We should note that in his two years off the council, Llewellyn has plowed his time back into the community with the Housing Resources Board, the Chamber of Commerce, Bainbridge Island Broadcasting and the Bainbridge Economic Council. He transcends facile “development vs. environment” branding, and the community would be well served by Jim Llewellyn’s return to elected office.

As to his opponent, we generally like Michael Pollock, although it’s a

sentiment not universally held. As the Letters columns of late have demonstrated, Pollock attracts both devotees and detractors of

remarkable stridence. Supporters view him as passionate and reliable on “green” issues; others see him, for a variety of reasons, as calculating and iconic of the current council’s recent troubles.

There is no doubt that Pollock is whip-smart and shows an acute grasp of every issue he chooses to tackle. Wrapping himself in the council’s accomplishments, he cites pride in recent work on the Wyckoff property preservation effort, the consolidation of scattered codes into a coherent lighting ordinance, and new rules (albeit controversial ones) for subdivisions. But the record suggests that Pollock has little interest outside the land use sphere. His online campaign platform includes nothing about business development, downtown Winslow vitality, or local jobs, making us question the breadth of his vision and his constituency. And frankly, we’re troubled by his new mantra that the Bainbridge community needs to have a discussion about “how fast we should grow.” We think that question is already being answered – by the dynamic between our excellent Comprehensive Plan and the market. The implication that new,

unspecified controls on growth are desirable or even possible should give affordable housing advocates, among others, pause; our home prices are already insanely high without more strictures.

Lastly, while Pollock has tried to distance himself from the spectacle of the 2002 council – arguably, he was something of a victim of context – it’s hard to overlook the fact that he was the group’s chair during that period, and had his own public flare-ups with the mayor and administrator even in the first two years of his term. Whether that’s worth considering at the ballot box is, in the end, up to individual taste.

For our part, we could live with another four years of Pollock –

articulate and a good listener, he is undeniably effective – but we hope he would broaden his focus considerably.

In the race for the at-large council seat, we repeat our primary

endorsement of Nezam Tooloee and amplify it for the Nov. 4 ballot. A

successful entrepreneur possessed of a penetrating intellect, Tooloee sees the council/administration relationship as a board/manager

business model, a necessarily symbiotic affair. He comes to public life free of encumbrance; we’re impressed by his oft-stated commitment to

synthesizing opposing views into decisions that represent the community as a whole, not just narrow interests or the most diligent lobbyists.

His opponent, former Association of Bainbridge Communities president Arnie Kubiak, is thoughtful and sincere, and obviously deeply committed to this community. But he has offered little in the way of vision; his most intriguing notion is using graduated impact fees as an incentive for the construction of smaller homes. Too, he has failed to distinguish his candidacy in any meaningful way from the ABC organization itself, which many see as trading in the same oversimplifications – environment vs. development – that this community needs to outgrow.

Is Bainbridge a refuge, or a dynamic and working community?

We believe our cherished quality of life is based not just on land

preservation, but on economic opportunity and job availability, on

commerce and trade with a variety of local merchants, on housing choice, and on a sense of respect for divergent viewpoints. We’re looking for moderate leaders who are excited about our community’s many

possibilities, not yoked to anxiety over what change might bring.

In Jim Llewellyn and Nezam Tooloee, we see a positive course for Bainbridge Island, and we urge voters to give them support on Nov. 4.

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