After 18 years of service on the Mercer Island City Council, including four as deputy mayor, Dan Grausz is retiring and leaving a legacy of care for the arts, public safety, open space and the city’s character.
“It is definitely time for me to pursue other interests and for others to get involved,” he told the Reporter when he announced he would not run for re-election this year.
The city honored his service on Dec. 5, with a council proclamation noting that he will be remembered for the “impressive political skills he brought to bear in his tireless advocacy for maintaining and advancing Mercer Island’s quality of life.”
“His eloquence, his persuasiveness, his unmatched ability to quickly synthesize and capture thoughts in writing — these skills have set Dan apart,” according to the proclamation. “And in coupling these skills with a willingness to dive deeply into the issues, to question assumptions, to seek creative solutions, to willingly devote long hours to the task, Dan has served Mercer Island well and truly. With his new‐found freedom, Dan is sure to enjoy more time at his vacation home in the San Juan Islands, working to preserve regional land with Forterra, traveling with his wife, and visiting his children and grandson, although we have a strong suspicion we will continue to hear from him on a regular basis.”
Grausz served as a council liaison for every city board and commission but one (the Utility Board), spending four years each on the Design Commission and Open Space Conservancy Trust. He was a member and/or chair of the parks and recreation subcommittee for 10 of his 18 years on the council.
During Grausz’s four-and-a-half terms in office, the council met 494 times, adopted 325 ordinances and 292 resolutions, and reviewed over 2,000 agenda bills, the proclamation stated, noting that “on many issues, he was not just influential, but instrumental, in reaching the final result.”
More recently, Grausz has focused his attention regionally, serving on the Sound Cities Association Public Issues Committee, the King County Regional Policy Committee, the King County Consortium Joint Recommendations Committee and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Advisory Committee.
Some of the city’s greatest accomplishments during his tenure, which began in 1999, have involved parks and capital facilities, Grausz said, noting the acquisition of Luther Burbank Park and the Engstrom Open Space, and building the new Mercer Island Community and Event Center, Boys and Girls Club PEAK facility and Fire Station 92.
But one facility is left unbuilt: the Mercer Island Center for the Arts. Grausz has been a vocal supporter of the organization, the building and its main tenant, Youth Theatre Northwest.
“As I leave office, I truly feel that YTN’s future on Mercer Island is at risk,” he wrote in an email update to Islanders.
But the other items he hoped to wrap up before the end of his council tenure are done, including the Interstate 90 litigation and negotiations, as well as the residential development standards update.
Grausz will also be remembered for his fiscal responsibility. He assisted in reducing the scope of the sewer lake line project, changing the Southeast 40th Street and 86th Avenue Southeast intersection to save money, eliminating the criminal justice fund to free up resources and saving the cost of transporting fill from the events center by creating Grausz Mountain (aka Kite Hill).
Other notable projects have been installing pedestrian and bike shoulders on the Mercers, updating the Town Center development code, adding turf fields at the high school, South Mercer Playfields and Island Crest Park, maintaining city funding for school counselors and working with citizens to initiate the Farmers Market and find a resolution for the library renovation.