Two newcomers face off for South Ward council seat

As the Nov. 2, general election inches closer and with folks receiving their ballots Oct. 15, two newcomers will face off for the Bainbridge Island City Council South Ward seat.

Former planning commission member Jon Quitslund and longtime island resident Kent Scott are the candidates for the council seat left vacant by Christy Carr, who is not seeking reelection. The position is a four-year term.

Both candidates answered questions from the Bainbridge Island Review.

Jon Quitslund

What is your education, work and political experience that qualifies you for the position?

Bainbridge school system, 1945-57; B.A. Reed College, 1961; Ph. D. Princeton, 1967. Academic training and experience has equipped me for analytical thinking and expository writing. I’ve had no experience in elective office, but since 2000, I have participated in several volunteer task forces with planning staff and other citizens, and I served for nine years as a planning commissioner.

What are your top 3-5 concerns?

1) Complete a broad and deep revision of the Winslow Master Plan, and a Housing Action Plan that includes extensive community engagement.

2) Conduct a thorough review of BIMC Title 18 (Zoning) and complete revisions in several chapters in order to implement the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan — especially the Land Use and Housing elements.

3) Develop an array of policies and strategies to address the dearth of reasonably priced rental housing, homes for the “missing middle” of the age and income spectrum, and affordable housing for households at or below 80% of Area Median Income.

These three concerns form a cluster of related agendas, all having to do with a future in which Bainbridge Island is less exclusive, more equitable, and more supportive of cultural and economic diversity within the community.

4) The City Council, individually and as a group, should be less engaged in protecting and asserting their eminent decision-making powers; they might then make better decisions. Being more effectively connected with other components of COBI and the community would help.

Why vote for you rather than your opponent?

In Italy years ago, I saw a political poster that showed a young couple embracing, and the message was “Kiss with your eyes closed, vote with your eyes open.” Some people may vote for my opponent because they think I’m too ambitious, or not realistic in my expectation of positive change. I see a need to address issues that have been recognized but left unresolved for years; I possess a combination of patience and stubborn resolve, and I enjoy working with others toward well-defined goals.

Kent Scott

What is your education, work and political experience that qualifies you for the position?

My 40 plus year career in planning/design/construction has included urban design for small communities, mixed-use/multi-family projects, affordable housing, public spaces, and large education/interpretive facilities throughout the U.S. and Asia. That included extensive public process, large consultant teams and a bottom line of cost management, timely completion and broad coordination. I have been on the city’s Design Review Board, Open Space Commission and Public Arts Commission, as well as a board member of Squeaky Wheels, consultant and volunteer with BI Land Trust and participation on numerous city task forces — Winslow Tomorrow, Civic Square and now the Sustainable Transportation Plan.

What are your top 3-5 concerns?

1) Aligning the Municipal Code with the Comprehensive Plan. Current codes have allowed development that is in conflict with residents’ vision to protect and ensure the island’s rural character. Growth in rural areas has increased traffic and created safety issues for nonmotorized users. My opponent has discussed upzoning some rural areas.

2) Improving the permit process, ensuring clear policies for shorelines, clearing and land development, and responsiveness of city staff. Delays and confusion with codes, permits and responsiveness are a poor reflection on city operations and critical to residents with both slim and expansive budgets and projects. I have direct and broad experience with these issues while my opponent only has non-applied experience.

3) Provide affordable housing for professional workers/families. With housing prices rising over 90% in the last six years and declining school populations, we have a significant change and challenge to the once economically diverse island community. Affordable housing has been studied and restudied – council needs to act and use all options available that are consistent with the Comp Plan. My opponent supports affordable housing solutions in conflict with the Comp Plan.

4) Update zoning for the broader Winslow area and Neighborhood Centers. Sustainable design principles require development near services and transit – This is Winslow. There are over 100 acres of either undeveloped (brownfield) or low developed areas between the Ferry District and High School areas. We need to work toward climate-appropriate solutions and put residents near shopping to improve services and support local business. Neighborhood Centers in the Comp Plan are envisioned as to walk-to destinations for the neighborhoods. We must work to reduce traffic to the rural areas of the island to protect our homes and neighborhoods. My opponent has supported increasing density in Neighborhood Centers.

5) Protect natural areas. I am thankful for the work by BI Land Trust and BI Parks to protect natural areas but more needs to be done to ensure a safe and robust environment. The city needs to review stormwater management, create a workable system for shoreline protection, and protect the forests that enrich our lives and offer a beautiful setting to our community. There are significant issues and concerns that must be addressed including fire danger and public safety.

Why vote for you rather than your opponent?

I have decades of real-world experience making community projects and initiatives happen and be successful, working with codes and permits, studying and working to enhance natural systems, making large complex problems/projects work with sometimes disparate needs and demands, working collaboratively with large teams, governments and agencies, and have a extensive background in public process being an active listener with an open and curious mind. My opponent does not have that experience.