Letters to the editor, Oct. 23, 2019

Letters on the upcoming election.

Choose Mercer Island first

Mercer Island is at a crossroads. November’s election offers voters a choice; Mercer Island or regional agendas? Choose Mercer Island first.

I should have paid closer attention to local politics. I trusted our elected leaders to do the right thing. It took the loss of the onramp to Interstate 90, the proposed Transit Center and a budget crisis to get my attention.

Because Seattle isn’t allowing more buses to enter the city, Metro Transit announced plans to terminate dozens of bus routes here, transforming Mercer Island into one of the largest regional transit hubs. How will the island handle 14,000 commuters per day? Who pays for required infrastructure and extra police? Island leadership must prioritize the island, first, in negotiations with Metro and Sound Transit.

Cancelling the Summer Celebration and lifeguards at our beaches shined a spotlight on the budget crisis. In fact, it turns out there was a budget surplus. Voters rejected Proposition 1, and the city manager and finance director resigned. We need new leaders who will get control of the budget, prioritize transparency and restore confidence in City Hall.

Town center is threatened with more tall buildings, mimicking Seattle’s unsuccessful urban village model. Businesses will be forced out because city leaders prioritized density and taller buildings over a vibrant retail core. A revitalized town center would improve tax revenues, reducing taxes on homeowners. A revitalized town center is a priority expressed by residents. Mercer Island needs leaders that will respect the priorities of residents.

A course correction is needed. I am supporting candidates who will put Mercer Island first. These candidates have the experience and passion that will be invaluable toward restoring confidence in government.

Please support Lisa Anderl, Heather Cartwright, John Hanlon, Jake Jacobsen and Daniel Thompson.

Ray Akers

Mercer Island

Supporting Daniel Thompson

I am supporting Daniel Thompson for council for the following reasons:

1) He is only taking donations from island citizens because he believes the council’s loyalty runs to the citizens.

2) He joined Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks in the fight to preserve Mercerdale Park and find a suitable home for Mercer Island Center for the Arts, helped permanently protect Kite Hill, and has worked tirelessly on the Aubrey Davis Master Plan to get a better master plan.

3) He fought to reform our residential development code to stop out of scale houses, and to enact a tree ordinance that preserves significant trees during development.

4) He was one of the first citizens to read the new garbage contract and identify the undisclosed taxes, and to fight the waivers for drive down service.

5) He has fought a bus intercept on Mercer Island, first in 2014 and now today, because there is no shown benefit to Mercer Island.

6) He opposed Proposition 1 because he felt unpopular council policies had to be changed first before a levy could pass, he believes all efforts should be made to identify efficiencies before raising taxes, and we must focus on our aging infrastructure including our water and sewer lines first.

Matthew Goldbach

Mercer Island

Vote for new leadership

Over the past few years it has been difficult to watch our city council engage in decisions that are not wise and often detrimental for the island.

Our legacy council chose to threaten the community they were to serve with Proposition 1 while not being honest about the budgetary “crisis” they created and actually did not exist. It was a priority and spending issue that has still not been properly addressed. They mis-negotiated with Sound Transit for our longterm access as an island and favored developers over their citizens.

Now our legacy city council members are continuing to harm the island with a large bus depot that we don’t need and shouldn’t have to shoulder for the region as we are an island with limited land mass and access. Simply stated, we deserve better leadership on Mercer Island. Leadership that is honest and transparent with the island’s resources, citizens and our fiscal health. Leadership that properly prioritizes safety, protection of our mobility and access, and listens to its citizens.

Now we as an island have an opportunity with the upcoming election to appoint new leadership on the island, and not simply re-elect the same bad leadership that got us into the place we are currently. We can elect a new slate of city council members that will work to protect the island, our citizens, families, parks, and our mobility and safety.

I strongly advocate voting for Lisa Anderl, Heather Cartwright, John Hanlon, Jake Jacobson and Dan Thompson, and I recommend that everyone who is concerned about preserving and protecting the island do the same.

Vote for new leadership on the Mercer Island City Council this election cycle, and vote for candidates that care about protecting our community and will listen to our citizenry.

Elizabeth Buckley

Mercer Island

Keep Anderl on the city council

I’m voting to keep Lisa Anderl on the city council. She has worked hard this year to understand both the big issues facing Mercer Island as well as how the city operates. She comes to the meetings well-prepared and asks great questions. Most importantly, we know where she stands on tough issues.

As an experienced attorney, I think she brings the necessary skills to some very challenging issues. She’s focused on public safety and on preserving our quality of life. For example, Sound Transit and Metro are currently trying to significantly rewrite the settlement agreement regarding bus traffic, and Lisa has taken a strong stand against any modifications to the agreement, which would negatively impact the island. She has come out and said clearly that if the settlement configuration will not work for Metro, then they should consider a different location for a bus intercept. She is also insisting that Sound Transit and Metro be responsible for any resources necessary to ensure that our island stays as safe as it is now after light rail starts running.

Lisa has shown that she values the character of our single-family residential neighborhoods. She supported the current city manager’s proposal to “hit pause” on the community facilities zone, which was proving to be divisive and unworkable for many groups on the island.

Lisa is already doing the hard work on city council. Let’s let her keep working to benefit our community.

Cathie Hall

Mercer Island

Facts-driven approach? Vote Cartwright

I’ve always been an actively-engaged citizen on key city issues and now, with so many contentious problems, I’ve been even more intensely involved. I have followed both Heather Cartwright and Craig Reynolds and been at planning commission meetings with Craig. It’s interesting they’re running against each other – they both claim to be data (and fact) driven and bring business experience, but when you interact with them, you find their actions behind the talk track are very different.

When talking with Heather, she is immediately engaged and listening. She asks for facts on an issue, and she asks a lot of questions so she can get more insight. She genuinely cares about understanding my perspective. Heather wants to listen and learn so she can respect all sides of the equation. On the other hand, Craig shows limited interest in understanding other perspectives or representing more than one side of the equation.

The difference? Heather’s data-driven approach comes from applying in the real business world. I realize because she works in technology, which changes fast, she always has to be tuned in to customer inputs and new information, so she’s always listening. Heather wants to validate data and facts…. she looks for accountability and how new data might change the way we approach a challenge.

MI citizens want a lot of the same goals – public safety, mobility, improved parks, protection of residential neighborhoods, and fiscal responsibility…. but we have different perspectives on how those things get achieved. Our city council leadership has to reflect all citizen interests, understand all parties, and find positive consensus for everyone.

I consider myself fact-based driven. It’s very important to be able from a business point-of-view to understand the contracts the city is engaged in, and interpret the material with integrity.

This is why I’m voting Cartwright over Reynolds.

Jeff Davis

Mercer Island

Support for John Rivera-Dirks

Despite Mercer Island being a small community, I did not know either candidate for school board position No. 5 before this election. I took the opportunity to talk with both candidates earlier this summer because I have three children in the school district (one in elementary, one in middle and one in high school) and I care deeply about their education.

I’m voting for John Rivera-Dirks because I was impressed with how he connects with stakeholders. Prior to our meeting, he had already conducted research into other districts, learned about various educational models, and talked with school administrators and current and past school board members. He goes beyond a simple, “I’m listening, I hear you.” He researches, he listens actively, he finds innovative solutions.

I’m voting for John because he is absolutely passionate about academic excellence and a well-rounded school experience. Mercer Island is blessed with an intelligent, engaged and supportive community. There is always room for improvement, and we should continually be asking ourselves if the curriculum and programs that are in place are preparing our kids for where they want to go.

I’m voting for John because he is a strong advocate for STEM in our schools. The world is ever-changing and we want our kids to be prepared for the careers of the future. John knows that supporting STEM isn’t just about throwing technology into classrooms.

I’m voting for John because he is dedicated to promoting mindfulness, kindness and resilience in our kids. He is also committed to providing support for our kids as they learn how to manage stress and anxiety in their lives. In today’s world, no student’s education would be complete without the help of these survival skills.

Helen Wu

Mercer Island

Reynolds is connected to community values

During this time when devoted public servants are being “trashed,” we have the opportunity to elect representatives who will move Mercer Island in a positive direction.

If you want a representative on city council who is connected to our community values, who represents our budget priorities and who understands the impact of zoning, development and municipal finance laws on our quality of life, then you will find no one better than Craig Reynolds.

Our island will be the fortunate beneficiary of Craig’s professional experience, energy, thoughtfulness, volunteerism and deep connections to our community. Craig Reynolds has my enthusiastic support and my vote.

John Stewart

Mercer Island

Voting for Thompson

Many regional groups are endorsing candidates to further their agenda without properly vetting them. Daniel Thompson is accepting only island resident donations to assure he isn’t beholden to off island interests. He has worked for years advocating for islanders and will continue to prioritize Island interests over regional interests. Preventing the bus intercept, preserving Kite Hill and developing a tree ordinance are all examples of his good work on our behalf. Please join me in voting for Daniel Thompson for Mercer Island City Council.

Tom Robinson

Mercer Island

Take the time to read about the candidates

For the incumbents, if we paid attention, seeking re-election for positions to the Mercer Island City Council, we know their voting records, for achievements and setbacks. Many important decisions for the future for the city have been made since the last election, which remain controversial.

Therefore, please take the time to carefully read about the candidates seeking seats on the next council. We are fortunate to have some eminently qualified persons to better position us with fresh, sensible positions for the future.

Thomas Frey

Mercer Island

Supporting Debbie Bertlin

I am writing to express my support of Debbie Bertlin for city council.

I’ve known Deb for five years, and I’m lucky to call her my friend. And while some may view my endorsement with skepticism for that very reason, I’m compelled to share my perspective with other voters — particularly in light of an ongoing effort by a small, but very vocal group of islanders to discredit her honesty, decency and good intentions.

Anyone who knows Deb personally will tell you she’s a compassionate, straight-shooting, honest-to-a-fault, pragmatic, hard-working, wicked smart woman who, as cliché as it may sound, wants to leave this world — and this community — in a better place.

Deb grew up on the island, is raising her two daughters here, and her parents continue to reside here. Her passion and concern for the well-being of our community run deep, as does her long-standing knowledge of the regional forces driving many of the challenges we face as islanders.

Given the increasingly contentious tone of our local politics, I was somewhat awestruck that Deb decided to run for council again. But Deb is an optimist of the highest order. She’s also tough, follows her heart, and doesn’t back down from a challenge. Most of all, I believe she feels there’s work left undone.

Like most islanders, I choose to live here because of the excellent schools, safe streets, beautiful parks, and easy access to a major city. We can (and should!) disagree about how to maintain those qualities, how our community should evolve, and ultimately, which candidates best represent our collective interests.

For these reasons, it’s vital that we focus on the real issues facing Mercer Island. As a friend of Deb’s, I can assure you that her integrity, character and commitment to our community are not among them.

Debra Hafermann Brandt

Mercer Island

Reynolds is careful and diligent in his approach

On Oct. 17, I attended the candidate forum for the city council race between Craig Reynolds and Heather Jordan Cartwright.

In her introduction, Cartwright stated she liked to “surround myself with people that don’t agree with me.” It is a good idea to have a variety of perspectives especially on a governing body. But I found her statement perplexing since she is one of Mike Cero’s PAC slate of candidates who apparently are all committed to put “efficiency first” in dealing with the issues and challenges facing the island.

A CFO asked Cartwright about how the “efficiency slate” planned to reduce expenditures and received a vague response. The next questioner, also a CFO, asked Cartwright to be more specific. Again no specifics other than “I never met a budget I couldn’t cut by 5 percent.”

In closing, Cartwright painted herself as a big-ideas person (e.g., instead of the controversial bus-intercept, “let’s lid the freeway and put all the buses down below”), but I wondered about the practicality, timing and cost of her proposals. I would prefer to have someone who is committed to careful analysis and diligent examination of realistic, not fantasy, options.

Reynolds is that person. He has the analytic eye of the actuary he is and is careful and diligent in his approach. He answered all questions put to him in a measured, factual and candid fashion. When Mike Cero tried to pin congestion in the downtown core on the current planning commission (on which Reynolds has sat for just a little over a year), once again I was perplexed. The impacts Cero was referring to would have been a result of decisions made years ago, most likely during Cero’s eight-year tenure on the city council.

Robert Olson

Mercer Island

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More in Letters to the Editor

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Letters on the upcoming election.

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 30, 2019

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