It was only fitting this time of year that Ron Peltier mentioned, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
He compared how George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) finally learned to appreciate things he had done – the same as outgoing Bainbridge Island Mayor Rasham Nassar should.
Nassar was honored for her service at her final council meeting Tuesday .
Watching an orca whale breach on a recent ferry ride symbolically reminded deputy mayor Michael Pollock about how much Nassar has done for the environment in her four years on the City Council. But it wasn’t just for the environment she fought for. He said she educated herself on all the issues the council faced. “I’m going to miss that on the council,” Pollock said. “That hole is going to be hard to fill in terms of knowledge and firepower.”
Nassar was defeated in the November election by Clarence Moriwaki.
Councilmember Brenda Fantroy-Johnson said Nassar was so important working with the Race Equity Advisory Committee. “You’re very special to me. We bonded as a social justice leader and woman of color, she said.
After she was appointed to take Kol Medina’s place when he left town, “You took me under your wing. You led by example. You are one of the reasons I stayed and ran for election.”
Fantroy-Johnson said she is motivated to model Nassar’s leadership behavior with tenacity, integrity and a willingness to investigate the truth. “You fought for the little guy, even when you, yourself, were the target,” Fantroy-Johnson said.
New Councilmember Jon Quitslund said he admires her energy, fresh ideas and attention to detail. “You set an example I want to emulate – an openness to all sorts of people’s different ideas and different needs.”
Three members she often was at odds with also shared kind words.
“We look up to you for your passion for the community,” Councilmember Joe Deets said. “There was never (any) doubt you care for this community.”
Councilmember Leslie Schneider said they actually shared many goals; they just differed many times on the process. “I appreciate your out-of-the-box thinking.”
And Councilmember Kirsten Hytopolous said even though they disagreed at times she always admired Nassar’s energy and passion. “I appreciate your commitment to the quality of life on Bainbridge Island. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made.”
Nassar said it was an honor serving for four years and accomplishing so much. She thanked city staff for “tolerating council.” She admitted there were “rough patches” in city leadership but they learned to work together and “put their differences aside to work for the common interest of this wonderful commnity.”
She said with the help of new city manager Blair King she trusts the council will steer in the direction the community wants to go.
Nassar also received accolades during public comments.
Lisa Neal appreciated Nassar’s “tireless defense to our way of life.” Neal talked about a list of accomplishments that show Nassar’s desire to oppose development and help the environment. “Were voters paying attention?…I don’t think so. They did not vote like they love the island.”
Peltier had his own list of Nassar accomplishments: a building moratorium, canceling the bridge to nowhere saving taxpayers $2 million, canceling the roundabout at New Brooklyn Road, the Suzuki property, self-storage moratorum and prohibition of Winslow hotels.
James Friday of the REAC said he appreciated working with Nassar because she gave “honest, open answers.” Nassar was an advocate for equity and helped the committee understand better how to work with the council. “You have done great things on this island. You gave me hope,” he said.
Another committee member, Savanna Rovelstad, said Nassar was the first woman of color she ever saw on the council. “It was an incredible thing for this island. A brilliant woman of color leaving the council is very disheartening to see.”
King said Nassar was presented a plaque and also a light-hearted recognition for her service. The gift was wrapped in “brown paper tied up with string so we know it’s one of our favorite things,” he said.
When the mayor unwrapped it amid applause from the council, the gift was a street sign that reads “Rasham Way.”