Mayor says 10 years is enough: Bryan Cairns won’t seek re-election to City Council this November

As the mayor’s last two elections showed, it won’t be a challenger that puts Mayor Bryan Cairns out of office. It will be his own decision not to run for another term.

Mayor Cairns stated last week that he will not be seeking re-election this year, leaving at least one Council seat completely open this Fall. Cairns was first elected in 1997 and ran unopposed in two subsequent elections in 1999 and 2003. He was selected mayor by the Council in 2006.

The mayor said he wouldn’t run again because it was time for him to move on.

“It’s been 10 years and its just that I think it’s time to see some new faces,” Cairns said.

In 1997 Cairns was elected over Island attorney Frank Vulliet when Councilmember Mike Wensman resigned after serving on the Council for one year. Wensman left to serve in the state legislature.

During Cairns’ first two-year term, the original bond for a new community center was defeated by a citizen vote. However, Council later approved a less-expensive plan for the Community Center at Mercer View and Cairns’ name is one on the dedicating plaque.

Cairns was on the Council when a proposed increase of Sea-Tac air traffic over the Island was averted and a controversial initiative to remove invasive ivy plants was defeated. The mayor’s experiences also include a Council decision to stay with the City of Seattle’s water supply and enacting downtown parking regulations. The Council agreed to contributing to the operation of Mary Wayte Pool as well.

Other significant accomplishments during Cairns tenure are the city’s acquisition of Luther Burbank Park and preserving Islander access to I-90.

Those who work with him say he is smart and courteous.

“[The mayor] brings civility, intelligence and respectfulness to the process of government,” said city manager Rich Conrad, who has known and worked with the mayor for over 20 years. “His sort of quiet resolve to get what Islanders needed for access to I-90 has been a benefit to the city. He was never so outspoken that he alienated the partners but he insisted Mercer Island get what it needed and the transportation agencies and state responded to that.”

Cairns was also on the Council when it decided to take over Luther Burbank from the county. At Council’s annual retreat in 2002, the city hadn’t planned for the operating and maintenance costs of the deteriorating 72-acre park. Council initially used funds from the general budget surplus to maintain the park for the first year. Then, the Council proposed and residents approved a levy to help fund the park’s maintenance until the end of 2009. Voters passed the measure in November 2003.

Before joining the Council, Cairns served eight years on the library board. Conrad said he remembers working with him in the late 1980s for an important bond issue that brought a new library to the Island. The mayor has lived on Mercer Island for nearly 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.

Beginning next year Councilmember Dan Grausz will have the most seniority on the Council along with El Jahncke and Sven Goldmanis if they are re-elected. All three have been on the Council since 1999, but Grausz is the only one to be re-elected twice. Grausz won a two-year seat in 1999 after former deputy mayor David Clancy stepped down. Grausz was elected again in 2001 and 2005. Jahncke and Goldmanis are up for their third terms this Fall.

A total of four Council positions are up for election. Councilmembers El Jahncke and Steve Litzow have both stated they will run again. Sven Goldmanis has not stated if he will seek another term.

City Council members serve four year terms, with the even and odd numbered positions alternating for election every two years . There are no term limits. The mayor is selected by the Council in January every two years, after elections take place. The primary for this year will take place on Aug. 21 with the election taking place on Nov. 6.

Council Attendance Record (All absences excused)


Litzow absent once on Jan. 17

Grausz absent once Feb. 21

Goldmanis absent six times: May 15, Sept. 5, Oct. 16 and 23, Nov. 13, Dec. 4

Grady absent once on Feb. 21

Pearman absent once on July 10

Jahncke absent twice, Oct. 16 and Dec. 11

Cairns absent three times, Oct. 16 and 23, Nov. 13


Litzow absent Mar. 19

Grausz, no absences

Goldmanis absent Jan. 19, 20, 21 (Council retreat) and Mar. 5

Grady absent Feb. 20

Pearman absent Jan. 16

Jahncke absent Mar. 5

Cairns, no absences

Council Terms:

Up for re-election in 2007

El Jahncke - elected in 1999, 2003

Sven Goldmanis - elected in 1999, 2003

Steve Litzow - elected in 2003

Bryan Cairns - elected in 1997, 1999, 2003, selected mayor in 2006

Up for re-election in 2009

Mike Grady - elected in 2005

Dan Grausz - elected in 1999, 2001, 2005

Jim Pearman - elected in 2001, 2005

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