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City Council campaign picks up steam

As summer takes a turn toward fall, the Island’s political campaigns begin to pick up steam. City Council contenders Dan Grausz and Ira Appelman have already earned $5,000 and $10,000 in campaign funds, respectively. These two individuals — the only City Council candidates running a contested race this year — have 60 days to persuade voters to check their names on the Nov. 3 ballot. Their motive is the same, yet their means to the end are individually tailored.

In the last month or so, “Re-elect Dan Grausz” signs have been popping up across the Island. The City Council incumbent, Position No. 2, has also made a presence at several public events, including Summer Celebration, Music in the Park concerts and other Island gatherings.

Many already know his face and are eager to talk to the three-term Council representative. Others accept flyers bulleted with Grausz’s priorities for the coming year.

“At this point, it’s nothing very concentrated. I think people will start paying attention in September,” said Grausz, who lives on First Hill with his wife, Claire Meeker.

Appelman prefers to endorse himself via mail. The Island resident has already spent approximately $2,000 on printing and mailing. He has sent hundreds of letters to Islanders about what he hopes to accomplish as a City Council member, along with a two-page biography of his life, complete with photos from childhood.

A first time candidate for City Council, Appelman said that it is important for voters to connect with him as an Islander. This, he explained, is why he sent out the story of his childhood in Seattle and teenage years as a student at Mercer Island High School.

“You’re trying to connect with them about who you are and where you came from, and then connect with them on a political level,” Appelman said. “People don’t have much time for reading, so you have to squeeze a lot of information into a small space.”

This was especially difficult for Appelman when writing a mail-out summary of his stance on city regulations. Adamant that he can change the city’s sub-par regulatory policies, Appelman distributed a letter in which he summarizes his plan for a citywide “regulatory improvement program.” The plan includes transportation, green space, public hearings and more. Although the reading is dense, Appelman said he did his best to be concise.

“I generally tend to write more than people want to read. I have tendency to write long things because I have a huge amount of information, so I have to cut it back,” he said.

Appelman has already sent out hundreds of letters. Most of his campaign earnings, he said, have gone toward postage. He has also been outside meeting the public, although not as much as Grausz. Most of Appelman’s work is done from home.

Appelman is aware that Grausz has an advantage in the campaign, given that he has been in the City Council spotlight for three terms. This is why Appelman is making an extra effort to contact as many Island residents as he can.

“As a challenger, you have to raise a lot more money so you can raise your issues. Incumbents can say they did this and that in Council, and they have name recognition,” he said.

Asked about his career history, of which little is known to the public, Appelman said that he didn’t think Island residents cared so much about this aspect of his past. This is why, he added, his mail-out biography focused on his youth and his dedication to Island government as a citizen.

“I don’t know that the fact that I’m doing Appelman Research connects with people,” he said, referring to his “one-man research organization” through which he conducts financial research into hedge funds and various other projects.

Although his corporation does not have a Web site, Appelman said that he has “enough” clients from past connections made when he worked as a researcher for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s and as an assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago before that.

“There’s a lot of my history I don’t put in there,” the City Council candidate said. “I’m just trying to connect with the Island.”

In comparison, Grausz’s career history has been posted on his City Council Web page for years. He is currently senior vice president of fleet operations at Holland America Line, a position he has held since July 2004. Prior to that, Grausz served as vice president and general counsel of Holland America Line for 16 years.

Running uncontested this year for City Council are City Mayor Jim Pearman, Position No. 4, and Mike Grady, Position No. 6.

To review our election coverage, go to our Web site at www.mi-reporter.com.

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