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Cairns reminds Council of work left to be done

The 10-year tenure of Mercer Island’s humble yet humorous mayor of the past two years came to an end last week after his final public meeting.

Mayor Bryan Cairns, who has served on the City Council since January 1998 and was selected as the mayor in January 2006, stepped down from elected office by not seeking a fourth term.

About half an hour of the Council meeting last Monday was dedicated to honoring both Cairns and Councilmember Sven Goldmanis, who did not seek re-election either. After the dedication, the mayor thanked city staff, his colleagues on the Council, briefly held back some tears and continued on thanking Island citizens and commissioners.

“Ten years ago I remember running for City Council, and the word I used was trust. I hope that’s been the case,” the mayor said during the meeting last Monday.

“I want to thank the citizens. There are so many more than what is on the committees. Everybody has a voice, and I think we have received several thoughtful, constructive inputs from the citizenry at large,” he said.

The meeting also marked the end of service for two-term Councilmember Sven Goldmanis, who received some inside-joke gifts from his colleagues. Councilmember El Jahncke gave Goldmanis a T-shirt that reads, “It’s all about me.” Deputy Mayor Jim Pearman also awarded Goldmanis with a trophy, calling it Chip Miller 2007 Inspirational Award.

Former Councilmember Susan Blake said last Friday that Mayor Cairns is a man of great intelligence and humor.

“He’s not funny in the jokester kind of way,” Blake said. “In a very succinct way he is funny. He has an urbane wit that plays through virtually every part of his demeanor.”

The new Council will select a new mayor in January, as it does every two years after elections take place.

Cairns was first elected to a two-year term 1997 over Island Attorney Frank Vulliet. Another Councilmember, Mike Wensman, resigned to run for the state legislature. Cairns never had a challenger again, running unopposed in 1999 and 2003. He publicly stated last April that he wasn’t seeking another term because it was time for him to move on.

“It’s been ten years, and it’s just that I think it’s time to see some new faces,” Cairns told the Reporter in April.

Pearman said he thinks Cairns is a “rare renaissance guy in our society.” He said Cairns is a man who leads without shouting over people or imposing his will over people.

“He is a man of deep moral fiber, and integrity drips off him,” Pearman said.

During his speech, Cairns reminded current Councilmembers and the future members in the audience that some significant challenges are ahead of them which they need to resolve by working together.

“There are things we’re working on that are not completed yet,” Cairns said. “We’ve had promising starts, and I urge you to pursue the PEAK project, which has aroused great discussion and some things under consideration to be done to make it more successful.”

“There’s the sewer lake line project, which is an extraordinary expensive project,” he said. “There is also the parks levy.”

Cairns has lived on the Island for 40 years and is a retired manager of the physics department in the Boeing Defense and Space Group. He received a Ph.D from Queen’s University in Northern Ireland.

Cairns served on the library board for eight years before the library joined the county branch and he ran for Council in 1997. Former Councilmember and current state legislator Judy Clibborn commented on the seemless service of Cairns as well. She served on the Council with him in his initial years.

“He wanted a local library but the Council went in the opposite direction and he didn’t win,” Clibborn remembered of the late 1990s. “Voters actually annexed to the county library system. But to his credit, he got on the Council and functioned without ever blinking an eye. He didn’t hold a grudge.”

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