First candidates declare for City Council races
November 24, 2008 · Updated 4:18 PM
Although there aren’t any signs in yards or along the Island’s roadways yet, campaigns for four open positions on the Mercer Island City Council have started early this year.
Two candidates on Mercer Island have already announced their intention to run for Position 3, which is currently held by Sven Goldmanis. Councilmember Goldmanis has not stated his intentions to seek a third term on the Council, nor has he filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Goldmanis was elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 while running unopposed.
A total of four Council positions are up for re-election this fall (Pos. 1, 3, 5, 7). However, candidates aren’t allowed to legally file until June. To officially register, candidates must file with the county between June 4 and 8. Filings may be mailed beginning May 18.
The race for Position 3 has Bob Bersos, 55, a retired Mercer Island firefighter, up against Maureen Judge, 43, a single mother and independent business owner. Both have already began campaigning and filed with the PDC. If Goldmanis does decide to run, then there will be a primary to reduce the candidates to two.
Judge is a member of the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and is currently serving on the board for Youth and Family Services Foundation. She also assists another non-profit organization called the Starlight Children’s Foundation. She has a 10-year-old daughter and they live in the East Seattle neighborhood.
Professionally, she runs an independent marketing and editorial consulting business. In the past, she was a manager for Real Networks in Seattle and later moved over to Expedia.com in Bellevue. She is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in political science and English. She has lived on the Island for a year and grew up in the Seattle area. Her aunt and uncle have lived on the Island since the 1950s.
Judge said she wanted to be a councilmember to bring some fresh ideas to the Council.
“I am running because we need a more community focused plan for downtown,” Judge said. “I don’t think what we have currently is family friendly. I’d like to see a place where moms can take their strollers, maybe a promenade or some kind of area for people to gather. We also need improved bike paths. ”
She also wants to continue the Island tradition of leading the nation in environmental conservation.
“The people here want to do right environmentally and I want to see the Island lead in that,” Judge said.
Judge also said she supports creating an Island-wide parking pass to provide residents with parking options because the limited spots available downtown and at the park and ride are often occupied by people from neighboring communities.
The skills gained from managing in the tech industry has given her experience reaching a consensus with a group of people with disparate ideas, Judge said. She also said she would bring some much-needed female representation to the Council.
“I think that women bring to politics a whole set of great strengths,” Judge said. “It’s a planning and organizing sensibility that women bring to political office that is such a strength.”
Bersos is an Island native and recently retired firefighter who now is a part-time school bus driver.
He grew up on the South end and graduated from MIHS in 1973. He married another Islander, Dorian Goucher, in 1979 and they have three children, who are also MIHS graduates. After high school, Bersos received a degree in media technology from Bellevue Community College, eventually becoming a firefighter.
Bersos said he wants to join the Council because he knows the Island’s history and has experience representing people in the firefighters union. Town Center development and public safety are issues that concern him.
He said he is upset the way businesses were run out for the re-development and supports development around city hall as well. Bersos also criticized the lack of consistency in the application of the city codes as well.
“I think the city has good intentions. It just doesn’t follow through,” Bersos said. “But it’s not the City Council’s fault. I’ve always had issues with the planning commission.”
According to documentation with the PDC, Bersos’ filed for fund reporting option 1, called mini-reporting, which states he will spend no more than $3,500 on the campaign, accepting no more than $300 in aggregate from contributors.
The candidate appears to holster some unique ideas. He wants more entertainment options by allowing dance clubs or modifying the no gambling ordinance the city has had since 1991. He said he helped run the Island’s only disco club, Tonight’s the Night, with other firefighters in the 1970s. He also said the city should allow some gambling in 21-and-over establishments, so bars could have pull-tabs or punchcards, he said.
Bersos also wants more restaurants on the Island, recalling those here before the downtown re-development.
“It’s a great dock down there at Luther Burbank,” Bersos said. “I’d like to see some summer restaurant or seasonal cafe, maybe something run by some charity, that can close up in winter but offer something for the swimmers, boaters and park users in the summer.”
As a public safety measure, Bersos stated he’d like to see video cameras installed in some public areas, such as parking lots and along the Island’s roadways, to help curb the car prowls and auto thefts here.
“It’s using technology without invasion,” he said, “to protect property.”
One candidate has already began campaigning for the Position 1, the seat held by outgoing mayor Cairns. Patricia “Patti” Darling, a retired critical care nurse who still keeps her nursing license current, has filed with the PDC and announced her plans to run for the mayor’s position. Darling is a Island Rotarian and has been involved in professional hydroplane boat racing since 1971. She has performed numerous duties surrounding the jet-powered boats, working as a pit boss, medical respondent and is a commissioner with the Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association.
She said she first considered running for Council when fellow Rotarians Rep. Judy Clibborn and Councilmember Steve Litzow approached her two years ago and suggested she run for Council. She decided at that time she was not ready and set her sights on this election.
“I was ready by January and I am in this to win,” Darling said last week. “I have wanted to be a politician all my life. I was born in the South where people grow up thinking maybe they’ll go into politics some day but I have never had the opportunity. This seems to have presented itself in a timely fashion.”
Darling said her experience as a critical care nurse for 35 years would be her biggest contribution to Council. She also said the significant amount time she has devoted as a commissioner with hydro racing has given her experience making tough decisions.
“I know a lot about emergency medicine and emergency preparedness,” she said. “I think that I bring some expertise with my emergency medical background will help [the City] with emergency preparedness. That is where I can bring the most talent.”
Darling has lived on the Island for 10 years and has a son living in Renton. She is married to Bo Darling, who has organized several Mercer Island Half Marathons with the Rotary Club. Darling has also participated in some of those runs.
“My first race was on Mercer Island in 1978 and my last race was on Mercer Island in 1999, when I ran the half marathon,” Darling said. She added that she had run seven marathons in her 21 years of long distance running.