New council has a chance to toil for all the people | In Our Opinion | Jan. 1

Wow, that was a tortuous one, 2009. Exciting for some, perhaps, but overall it was the year of contentiousness on Bainbridge Island. Debate that was heated and often nasty, filled the air regarding several issues. Is that good or bad? We’ll find out, but there’s no doubt island voters led the way when it came to deciding the face of our city government entering a new decade.

They dismissed the mayor-council form of government that previous voters approved when the island became a city nearly 20 years ago. It was replaced by a council-centric municipality that people hope will communicate more openly and often with the community as a whole. Less division, more consensus and increased citizen involvement is the anticipated result of the change in government.

As expected, very little change occurred in the way the city did its business between the time the new form of government was approved and the nearly six months that elapsed until Interim City Manager Lee Walton took over in early November. Why? All the main players remained and the majority had no interest in changing things while they were still in control.

With three new council members and a new administrative leader, there’s a strong indication that fewer decisions will be made out of the public’s view. The three new councilors all campaigned vociferously about the need for a transparent council dedicated to a government that operates from the outside-in, not one that is all about itself.

It won’t be easy, but the timing couldn’t be better. Because of the city’s financial fiasco, it likely will be necessary for the city to address its most basic needs first. This could allow the city to start over again in some ways, building a foundation that emphasizes financial and political responsibility to the council’s constituents.

We certainly have shed the myth of Bainbridge being the city of plenty. So roll up your sleeves, council members of 2010, and show us you’ve been paying attention to the people.

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