The incumbent Rasham Nassar is being challenged in the Aug. 3 primary election by two well-known community activists, Clarence Moriwaki and Sal DeRosalia, for the Central Ward Position 5 on the Bainbridge Island City Council.
Voters could receive their mail-in ballots as soon as this weekend.
Professional experience: Age 42; 20 years as a business owner; COO of Manifest Health; co-founder/organizer of Race Equity Network; creator and host of Wake Up Bainbridge; completed People’s Institute; Undoing Racism and Base Building Workshops.
Education: Olympic College, Poulsbo.
Community service: Volunteer firefighter/EMT for Bainbridge Island Fire Department (2003-2010); community organizer since 2004 assisting C.O.B.I., Race Equity Advisory Committee; Kitsap ERACE; Boys & Girls Club; BI Senior Center; BI community vaccine clinic; Kitsap Public Health District Equity Advisory Group; 2020-21 Cultural Funding Cycle Task Force.
Top 3-5 issues:
• Comprehensive Plan: The goals of the Comp Plan are to guide growth and establish the long-range vision for Bainbridge Island. It accomplishes this while identifying the most important characteristics our community wants to retain, promote or foster. Council must prioritize the plan that still need to be updated. By matching the codes and plan, the city can avoid situations like the Winslow Hotel, which cost the city, developers and taxpayers a lot of time and money. This could have been avoided if the past and current council (both which Nassar sat on) would have voted to include the hotel’s zone in the original moratorium or any of the moratorium extensions or revisions that happened after. This has since happened but not before the hotel development moved forward.
• Government transparency: The more our city can provide in the way of transparency, the more it increases trust, honesty and integrity in the leaders it elects, appoints and hires. When I began covering City Hall three years ago, it was to accomplish two goals: bring transparency to what council was doing while at the same time showing folks that the topics inside of City Hall mattered to them. The city also is in need of a major record-keeping overhaul. How they collect, sort, store and make information available to the public needs to be modernized. Specific items the city can do are: Livestream and record all council/committee/task force meetings; use more media outlets to communicate city business and happenings; conduct a weekly press conference update with questions to the city manager; be more forthright about topics discussed in executive sessions, upgrade the city’s website, hire a second staff member to assist with Public Records Act requests and have council members receive a higher level of training regarding open meetings and ethics.
•Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Along with our Race Equity Advisory Committee (that I was a part of helping to create in 2019) our city staff, council, committee and task force members all need to have a baseline in diversity, equity and inclusion training. Welcome signs are not enough. We need to infuse the values of diversity, equity and inclusion into the very fabric of our city. It’s who we are at our core. Let’s celebrate what makes us great. This means: Diversity is where everyone is invited to participate in the legislative process, equity means that everyone gets to contribute their experience and ideas, and inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to see some of their input included in the final result.
•Housing/Affordable Housing: This is the most important issue on Bainbridge Island. Since the release of the Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report in 2017, not much has been done. The report lays out specific, actionable steps the City Council must take in order to meet the needs of housing issues. I will tirelessly champion for affordable housing. I would collaborate with stakeholders to bring forward the recommendations of the task force. We need a standing committee, staff and budgetary support along with a plan of action. Cherry picking an ADU ordinance or only providing incentive-based affordable housing programs will create no significant change that is equitable. We also need to create a housing action plan. The planning process includes a review of housing needs, existing inventory, and unique community and market factors, and is informed by robust public engagement. We need to streamline the permit process and give priority and reduced fees for affordable housing. The current permitting process is in need of a major overhaul with wait times as long as six months that can price folks out who can barely afford to build on their lot to begin with. In addition, the city needs to create new revenue streams to strengthen the Housing Trust Fund. New revenue streams can come in the form of a sales tax, property tax, percentage of funds for workforce affordable housing from BI lodging tax, and we can use our excellent credit rating as a city to secure funds for affordable housing projects.
• Strong Small Business Community: We need to form a standing small business advisory board at the city level to continue to address the urgent needs of the local economy. The board would advise the city on matters that will enhance the capability of small businesses. They would consider items such as the formulation of procedures that may affect the management, operation or financial stability of small businesses. The board would consist of members of the business community, council members and staff, along with representatives from other organizations that want a stable business community. We need to be proactive about this, especially since learning the significant role our small businesses have played in all of our lives during the pandemic.
Why should voters vote for you? I have put the betterment of Bainbridge Island and its inhabitants over that of my self interests for more than 20 years. I’m a proven servant leader who actively works to make Bainbridge better from the inside out. I will hold myself, my peers and city staff accountable while helping to create the positive changes we need in city government. Real talk and real action will net us real results.
Elected experience: Age 65; Tukwila City Councilmember; delegate, multiple state Democratic Party Conventions.
Other professional experience: Senior aide and spokesperson for the Clinton Administration; U.S. Office of Forestry and Economic Development; Office of Gov. Mike Lowry; Office of Congressman Jay Inslee; Washington State Senate; Kitsap County Commissioners’ Office; Sound Transit; Portland Rose Festival Association; Speakers Bureau member, Humanities Washington; campaign manager, ACLU of Washington. CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington.
Education: University of Washington, B.A.
Community service: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association; BI Japanese American Community; BI Health, Housing and Human Services Council; Friends of Pritchard Park; co-chair, King County Human Services Roundtable. For more than 20 years on Bainbridge Island, served on numerous city citizen committees, nonprofit and community groups; state’s first and only 12-year-old Eagle Scout. BI chamber Citizen of Year in 2017.
Top 3-5 issues:
• Protecting our environment: We must ensure that the pressures of growth are carefully balanced against with the preservation of the quality of life that we enjoy. I’ve been an environmentalist since the very first Earth Day, trying to make a difference in my personal choices to leave as small an environmental footprint as possible, and to support and advocate for environmental preservation and protection. I served as chairman of Tukwila Parks and Recreation Commission (1984-87) then elected to the Tukwila City Council (1987-91), where I was a leading advocate for the city’s first-ever Sensitive Areas Ordinance that preserved and protected the environment from intrusive development, years before the state required such protections under the Growth Management Act. I served as the Clinton Administration’s external affairs director for the Northwest Forest Plan, protecting old-growth forest for the endangered northern spotted owl. On BI we are blessed with an abundance of natures. We must ensure that these assets are protected for generations to come.
• Affordable Housing: As a board member of the Bainbridge Island Health, Housing and Human Services Council (2001-03) I wrote columns in the Bainbridge Island Review, one spotlighting the need for affordable housing, saying then that “People who live here can’t afford to work here, and people who work here can’t afford to live here.” That was true 20 years ago, and with the skyrocketing cost of real estate, it’s become more acute than ever. Affordable housing is not just good policy, it’s a necessary public safety concern. With the vast majority of our first responders and health care providers living off island, we are just one major emergency away from not being adequately protected. We should be creative and use every tool possible to encourage, require and create affordable housing opportunities for our seniors on fixed incomes and the first responders, teachers, health care providers, restaurant and hospitality workers, government staff and all others who make our city work. So far, meaningful progress has mainly come from the efforts of Housing Resources Bainbridge, not from the city, which needs to be a better partner. To better achieve our affordable housing goals we should turn to the carefully thought out ideas from the Affordable Housing Task Force.
• Future municipal court and police station: The facilties are in outdated, substandard, seismically unsafe buildings unfit to meet the 21st Century needs of our citizens. I support the vision of combining the court and station, a natural symbiotic relationship between two essential services of justice and citizen protection. A modern facility will enhance safety and functionality for all users. After more than a decade of discussions and study, the city purchased the former Harrison Medical Center and invested $10 million for it. The council is waiting for a report from our new city manager. While I would certainly take into account his report, it is hard for me to understand why changing direction at this late hour would be a responsible decision. Delay through analysis paralysis costs, both in real dollars and in not delivering updated, effective 21st Century administration of justice and public safety.
Why should voters vote for you? I have more than 30 years of civic and government service. These opportunities for public service have come to me because I know how to work with people, I know how government functions, and I know how to get things done. I believe that BI deserves responsive, responsible and predictable government. That requires a City Council that works with total respect, honesty and transparency. That is the only way I know how to work. I believe Bainbridge Islanders need and want that kind of servant. I have lived by and fully understand the norms, rules, responsibilities and ethics that govern elected officials, and as a member of the City Council I would work to elevate the discussion and to provide our community with a renewed reason to trust the judgment of their elected representatives.
38-year-old mother of boys ages 5 and 3. An avid island trail runner who enjoys time with my children at our island’s parks and playgrounds or at home on our small organic farm.
Experience: BI City Councilmember (2017-21); mayor (2021). Committees I have served on include: Environmental Technical Advisory, Race Equity, Tree Preservation, Utility Advisory, Public Farmland, Lodging Tax, and Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council; Also, summer associate, Marten Law (2021); and commercial appraiser assistant (2013-17).
Education: University of California, Berkeley, BA Philosophy; 2nd year law student, Seattle University; Appraisal Institute, Seattle, Certification.
Community service: Legal advocate for low-income clients; directed mentorship program for at-risk youth; animal shelter volunteer, community food recycling program volunteer. Advocate for environmental protection, social justice, sustainability, fiscal responsibility and regulatory reform.
Top 3-5 issues:
• My top priority is growth management, groundwater protection and stopping overdevelopment. We are a small island with limited space. Our Comprehensive Plan calls for retaining our rural character, yet every year Winslow becomes more urbanized. This needs to stop. I am very concerned about groundwater, particularly because of the increasing droughts and heat waves caused by climate change. We have not accounted for climate change effects and don’t know how much growth we can accommodate without depleting our groundwater. Another concern is that our sewer systems seem to overflow with increased regularity, polluting Puget Sound and harming marine life such as orcas and salmon. Even the treated discharge of sewage into Puget Sound has many contaminants. A priority is upgrading our sewer to have “tertiary” treatment. This produces clean, non-polluting outflow.
• Another priority is to curtail overspending, particularly for the proposed new police station. Taxpayers may have to pay $23 million for a station if the current plan stands. Typical costs are around $550-$650 per square foot. The current plan may cost close to $1,300 per square foot. There is still time to develop better alternatives such as rebuilding at the existing station, which could save about $10 million.
• Another priority is to simplify our regulatory framework, especially for affordable housing, shoreline regulations and land-use permitting. It is becoming almost normal for even simple routine permits to take years. Such delays drive up construction costs and housing prices. Shoreline owners face similar problems. Even simple projects, such as reroofing a structure, can take many months to get permitted, if at all. Permits often require expensive studies or analysis, so permits are costly and time-consuming with an uncertain outcome.
• Finally, it is a priority to work on practical solutions to affordable housing. We need to keep residents from being forced off the island because they can no longer afford to live here, such as when they retire. Also important is providing some affordable housing for our retail workforce, many who commute from off-island.
Why should voters vote for you? I have extensive experience working on local issues and understand the intricacies of local land-use issues as well as or better than almost anyone on this island. I stand up for community values and neighborhood concerns. For years I have been working with community groups to manage growth and stop overdevelopment, protect groundwater and maintain our rural character. I have the wealth of knowledge about our city’s rules and regulations, where the problems lie and what needs to be changed.
My local issue successes include working with community to: ban oversized hotels downtown, stop a high-density development at Suzuki, stop plans for high-density housing at Island Center, revise subdivision standards to create more open space and stop McMansion construction, pass an aquifer recharge protection area ordinance, pass a development moratorium, introduce and pass climate change legislation, reduce speed limits on streets, pass a fireworks ban, stop expansion of mini-storage facilities, and stop wasteful spending of tax dollars, including pausing the new police station after discovering millions in unnecessary expenses.
Currently I’m working with community groups to: oppose the installation of PSE’s high voltage transmission lines due to health concerns and impacts to wetlands and forests, remove regulatory barriers to affordable housing, stop groundwater pollution from the “triangle property” mine, put the question of police station costs before voters, and put an end to wasteful spending on litigation by addressing the numerous complexities with our shoreline regulations. People should vote for me because I have a proven track record being a leader on local issues who has shown a willingness to step up time and again to do what needs to be done to protect our neighborhoods, community and rural island character.