Grausz to run for City Council re-election

By Ruth Longoria

Island voters will have the option of retaining one of the City Council's greenest proponents in the November elections.

After 51/2 years in city government, councilman Dan Grausz said he's made some progress and he's ready to stick with the challenges connected with parks, open space, youth programs and limiting development. Grausz announced Tuesday he will run to retain his council seat, position No. 2.

``I've accomplished things these past years and I can continue being effective in the next four years,'' Grausz said.

Grausz, a vice president of Holland America Line-Westours, Inc., was elected to fill an open spot on the council in 1999 and was re-elected to the council in 2001.

Grausz's record on the council shows he has led many successful efforts to retain the Island's greenery and protect the environment. He sponsored increased funding for maintenance at Pioneer Park, pushed for city purchase of open space, and led opposition to cell towers in Clise Park. He also opposed widening Island Crest way south of 53rd Street, and commercial development in Luther Burbank Park.

He has supported improvement to pedestrian and bicycle paths along East, West and North Mercer Ways, and supported what he considers responsible development in the Town Center and restrictions on non-single family development outside the downtown area.

Grausz also argued in favor of plans for the new community center and funding to reduce additional expenses for day care providers returning to the center. And, since 2002, he has been a major voice on the council in support of negotiations with, and funding for, the Boys & Girls Club.

Despite progress already made, there's more work to be done and potential direction changes ahead for the council, Grausz said.

``One thing is, we already have some significant rules on the books -- basic rules for Town Center development -- that were set up 10 years ago and modified by this council three years ago. But, now we're seeing facts on the ground; now we're seeing bricks and mortar, and we can say, `Is this what we thought it would be? Is this where we want to continue going?' It behooves us to at least catch our breath,'' he said. ``I want to re-look at Town Center development to see if it needs to be changed in some way.''

If re-elected, Grausz plans to push for additional city purchases of open space.

``There are still some significant undeveloped tracts that should remain undeveloped,'' he said.

And , he will continue to advocate city involvement in plans for the Boys & Girls Club facility. ``I think we need to put more focus on youth programming,'' Grausz said. ``The city has, in large part, left youth programs in the hands of the School District and Boys & Girls Club. I think we need to be more involved. The Boys & Girls Club does a phenomenal job on the Island and there's hardly a family on the Island that hasn't been positively impacted by their programs. It's very important to all the Island.''

Grausz and his family moved to the Island from Seattle in 1989. He and his wife, Clare Meeker have two children, Sarah, 21, a senior at Occidental College, in Los Angeles, and Sam, 18, a senior at Mercer Island High School.

Born in Utica, N.Y., in 1952, Dan Grausz was the youngest of three children born to Otto and Ilse Grausz, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s to escape the Holocaust. While he was growing up, his father worked for a trucking company and his mother was a world language teacher. Grausz graduated from Utica Free Academy in 1970 and earned a bachelor of science degree, with an emphasis on industrial labor relations, from Cornell University in 1974. In 1978, he earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master in Business Administration degree from the Wharton School.

In 1977, Grausz met Claire Meeker, whom he later married. She worked as a lawyer prior to becoming a children's book author. Grausz practiced law on Wall Street in New York until the couple moved to Seattle in December 1979. Grausz said he was glad to move out of New York.

Grausz has been involved in politics since he was 18 years old when he was elected to represent the sixth ward of the third district on the Democratic Committee for Oneida County, N.Y. Though he took time off from politics while his children were young, he happily took Mayor Alan Merkle's suggestion to serve on the council. Grausz said he knew Merkle because the two men's daughters played volleyball together at MIHS.

Though Merkle and Grausz don't always agree on issues, that is the beauty of the Island's non-partisan City Council, Grausz said.

``We aren't divided into rigid blocks on any given issue,'' he said. ``I've always found if you reach out to people and are willing to understand their opinions, and compromise, you can come up with a solution and maintain a good working relationship. At the end of the day, not one of us on the council has a problem working with each other.''

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