Fire, park district races take shape for November

Voters will see contested races for two of the junior districts this fall.

Last year, amid the struggle to find the island’s next fire chief, commissioner Dave Coatsworth considered leaving his post.

By the end of this year, he’ll be the only one left from that era of the board, which has since expanded from three to five members and will welcome another new face when commissioner Jim Johnson vacates his seat.

Still, said one potential newcomer, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“There’s a wonderful level of respect for the island’s firefighters,” said Fletcher Bay resident Paul Bang-Knudsen, who along with south-ender Paul Topper is running for Johnson’s soon-to-be empty seat. “And that’s totally justified. But there’s going to be a lot of change over the next several years and it’s going to take some outsiders to help make it happen.”

Bang-Knudsen isn’t a complete outsider. He, like his good friend and opponent Topper, is a member of the Bainbridge Island Ambulance Association. He’s also an island native and a former Marine.

Both men were in the running, but were not selected, for earlier commission openings. Two of those slots went to Maureen Halligan and Scott Isenman, whose abbreviated terms are expiring this year; both are running unopposed to stay on the board.

Halligan joined the board in January following its expansion; Isenman was appointed in March to fill the seat vacated by Earl Johnson, who resigned to pursue a public speaking career.

The seats of Coatsworth and Michael Adams aren’t up for election this year.

The new board will face the first full calendar year under a new fire chief, who is likely to be selected later this month, according to officials. The new chief could begin working as early as late-July.

The board is interviewing candidates this week to replace interim chief Glen Tyrrell, who has filled the role since former chief Jim Walkowski left last year.

Park races

The park board will see some turnover as well, with Tolo Road resident Lee Cross and Meadowmeer resident Nancy Jacques vying for position 1, now held by Sarah Matthews.

Cross moved to the island in 2000, leaving a career in public affairs with the federal government. She serves on several committees and boards, including that of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust. She was a member of the Open Space Commission from its inception in 2002 until April of this year, when she resigned to run for the park board. She said her familiarity with island open space is a plus.

“The public land is where everyone on the island comes together,” Cross said. “It’s the commonwealth we all share and it’s essential that all of us are involved in the decisions about how those properties are going to be developed.”

If elected, she said her goal would be to improve communication between the park board and the community. She also cited coming updates to the park district’s comprehensive plan and the need for improvements, including at the soccer fields at Battle Point Park, as important issues.

“I go there all the time,” she said. “I know those soccer fields need to be fixed.”

As a mother of three who’s served on various park and youth sports boards both in her native Boston and here on the island, Jacques said she too is focused on fields and activities.

“I’ve always been active in the community,” she said. “It’s important for kids to have access to programs and other opportunities that are healthy.”

Jacques said she’s concerned about recent statistics that show drug and alcohol use among Bainbridge youths is disproportionately high compared to other areas in the state. She thinks better recreation could lead to less risky behavior.

She also said she’s looking at a number of other issues, including the coming senior center expansion.

She has worked as a medical technologist and bookkeeper, and now works at both Qwest and Safeco fields.

Incumbent park commissioner Tom Swolgaard is running unopposed.

Though there are no contested races for the school board, there will be new members.

North-end resident Patty Fielding, who before she retired was a master planner in the health care industry, is running for current board president Bruce Weiland’s seat; Winslow resident John Tawresey, chief financial officer at Seattle consulting engineer firm KPFF and husband of former mayor Alice Tawresey, is running for Cheryl Dale’s seat; board member Dave Pollock, first elected in 2003, will retain his seat.

Weiland and Dale had served a combined 20 years on the board before both decided not to run again.

The other non-City Council election filing was by Hilltop Drive resident Art Bartel, who will run unopposed for the District 7 sewer commission, which serves Bainbridge Island.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 28
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates