Opinion

Candidates Grausz, Myerson are best for city, schools

Islanders continue to be concerned about preserving and enhancing the quality of Island life and how our schools prepare our young people for the future. They depend on the City Council and School Board to protect and champion what they deem essential and right. We want our leaders to listen, but also lead. Islanders know that effective leaders must sometimes make unpopular decisions to serve the greater good.

It is unfortunate, however, that despite a good deal of interest and controversy surrounding several issues, only two individuals stepped forward to challenge the status quo. City Council seats now held by Jim Pearman and Mike Grady are uncontested. Adair Dingle is also unopposed for her seat on the School Board. We hope that Islanders will continue their interest in political matters beyond the election season and continue to contribute to the discussions about the city and the schools.

Grausz for City Council

In the race for City Council between incumbent Dan Grausz and longtime city activist Ira Appelman, the choice is clear. The newspaper supports and encourages voters to choose Grausz. Appelman, while highly intelligent and knowledgeable, is not suited for a leadership role.

The primary issues within the City Council concern nothing less than the future shape and feel of the Island. Both Appelman and Grausz know the particulars of the Island and its people. Grausz, the incumbent, has spent 10 years on the Council, while Appelman has rarely missed a Council meeting for over a decade. What they appear to disagree on primarily is how decisions are made and who is involved.

Grausz and other Councilmembers say that they have been responsible stewards of the Island and its amenities. Appelman says the Council does little to involve neighbors in issues that involve them directly.

Appelman clearly relishes digging deep into the particulars of city business through dozens of data requests he makes each year. We applaud his commitment to learning all he can about how city business is conducted and sharing his findings with others. Yet he has run his campaign presenting issues in a sensational and provocative manner. We question whether or not Appelman could be an effective team player and someone we would want to represent Mercer Island within the larger context of King County government. He offers no constructive evidence of how he has managed to work through challenges or has made tough decisions as part of a team that has faced controversy.

Grausz is a thoughtful and experienced business executive. He has championed the city working closely with schools and families. He attends to the business of the city on less visible but hugely important projects. He was key in the effort to save money on the multimillion-dollar sewer lakeline project.

More than choosing a candidate, the election process serves as an effective exercise to remind elected officials of citizens’ expectations. The Council, having weathered more than a few crises, seems to have found a rhythm to working together. Council meetings are finally on television. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Are there still more ways to improve the communications between Islanders and their city government? Yes. We are certain that Grausz will continue in those efforts to be more inclusive. It does appear that the Council needs to move away from reciting the results of consulting studies about the Island Crest Way/Merrimount intersection, and listen yet again to Islanders’ concerns about the intersection. But that is a topic for another day.

Myerson for School Board

For the open position on the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors, the newspaper endorses Dave Myerson.

The race for the School Board position to be vacated by John DeVleming offers a different type of decision than that for the City Council. Both candidates are qualified. The differences between the two are more subtle but no less important. Terri Caditz, an attorney, offers herself as an insider, someone who has worked for years within the schools as a volunteer and advocate, and someone who would fit in well with the present School Board. Myerson, a research scientist who has also been involved in Island schools, has taken the role of the outsider, someone who wishes to challenge the status quo.

Myerson is a parent and professional who continues to needle the board by pointing out that problems with mathematics in the school district are yet to be solved. He also claims that the School Board needs to measure how well the district performs in implementing new programs or methods by quantifying outcomes. Yet, Myerson’s focus on math is a concern to some who say there are issues beyond math on the table.

However, math remains a major point of frustration for many parents in the district. Over the years, this newspaper has documented the growing and astonishing number of students who attend classes for math at private academies. Some question how the district can attend to other matters such as PEAK, student advisory programs and endless ‘visioning’ exercises without first and foremost dealing with math.

Myerson, who has spent time teaching in Mercer Island school classrooms and who has attended most of the School Board meetings and retreats over the past half-dozen years, knows all of the issues facing the board. In selecting Myerson, we trust that he can balance his academic approach to issues with practical good sense while conducting the business of the School Board.

Caditz, while smart and capable, appears to offer much of the same approach that the board now has. Questioned about the quagmire regarding the PEAK financing, she indicated that she would defer to the advice of district legal advisors and board consensus as to how to proceed. Caditz’s long commitment to schools through the PTAs and other volunteer positions is admirable. It requires an incredible amount of work and fine organizational skills, but few tough decisions.

The School Board has sought to calm the schisms that it faced in the past — recognizing that without unity, little can get accomplished. They have dealt admirably with severe challenges regarding wholly inadequate school funding and other complex and vexing issues. Myerson will continue those efforts.

The Reporter consulted with several community members on the issues and candidates for office in this election. We invite our readers to look back on our coverage of city and school issues at www.mi-reporter.com.

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