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Letter | Deputy Mayor Grausz wants to continue service to Mercer Islanders
For the past 14 years, it has been my honor and privilege to serve you as a member of our City Council and currently as your deputy mayor. I am asking that you extend my service for an additional four years. In exchange, I promise to protect Islanders in the fight on I-90 tolling, work with the education community to find the right answer for our school funding needs, find a new home for Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island, and do my utmost to maintain Mercer Island as the best place to live in the state of Washington.
I first ran for the Council in 1999 with the conviction that I could protect and improve our community. As I looked around two years ago at our phenomenal parks, including Luther Burbank Park that was acquired by the city early in my tenure, our new community center built without any long-term debt, all weather ball fields and new playgrounds, the PEAK project for which I had brokered the agreement that enabled it to be built, the farmers market, our well-maintained roads and trails, our growing but very livable Town Center, and the overall quality of life that is really unique to Mercer Island, I felt that I had accomplished my goal and told Islanders that I did not intend to seek reelection.
Two years later, however, we face a new challenge, the tolling of I-90, which threatens to undermine the very fabric of our community. No one wants to turn their back when a challenge of this magnitude confronts them. I am no different and want to be a part of the effort that protects all that we have accomplished.
I now realize that the same motivations that prompted me to first run for Council and guided me through four contested elections — a commitment to service, a belief that I could make a positive difference and the satisfaction that comes from working out solutions with citizens and Councilmembers that have differing opinions — have only gotten stronger over the past 14 years. With my successful track record solving city problems, my work experience managing over 14,000 women and men and 21 large passenger ships as executive vice president of Fleet Operations at Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruises, and my legal background in private practice, as a General Counsel and as the only lawyer on the City Council, I-90 is a problem as to which I can make a positive difference.
The past two years have shown that my skills and experience continue to get results. My work with fellow Councilmembers helped scale back the size and cost of the new fire station project that was approved by voters this past November. That approval also provides Islanders with the funds to ensure that we can meet all of our fire equipment needs for the next 25 years. Equally important was the city’s ability to market the fire station’s nine-year bonds at a 1.09 percent fixed interest rate. That is a testament to the excellent fiscal condition that our city is now in. Last month, I also gained Council approval for new parking rules that will eventually create two-hour public (walk-off) parking opportunities in most of the new Town Center buildings.
I have spent my working and political life confronting major challenges and delivering successful results. Anyone can say “No Tolls,” but it also takes the ability to work with others and the credibility that only comes with experience and a successful record of producing results.We also need to find a solution to our education funding challenges. While schools are outside the City Council’s portfolio, we must work with the school district and offer whatever resources the city government can to ensure that the education needs of our children are met. Adding a school will also mean finding a new home for Youth Theatre Northwest, one of the greatest institutions in our state for children. I am determined to keep YTN on Mercer Island and find them a venue that will keep this amazing program going for generations to come.
In 2014, we will have a new city manager. We need consistency and experience on our Council at this critical time.
Finally, I truly enjoy serving on the Council, working with a city staff that is professional and dedicated and serving a citizenry that is engaged, articulate and committed to our community. My wife Clare Meeker and I moved to Mercer Island in 1989 and sent both our children through the MI schools. Clare gives back to our community through her teaching, writing and music. I have chosen to do so through service on the City Council.
Those of you who have watched me over the last 14 years know how I approach my work on the Council — with passion and a philosophy that by working together across the political aisle, we can find common ground and solve problems. That may seem naive and even outdated in this era of political polarization, but I have demonstrated that it works. It is also why I have been endorsed by people such as Senator Steve Litzow, former Senator Fred Jarrett, co-president of the Youth Theatre Northwest Martina Dalton, Mayor Bruce Bassett, Councilmember Debbie Bertlin and former Mayor Alan Merkle.
I look forward to the campaign ahead and, with your support, the chance to continue serving our community and working with you to protect and improve it. Thank you.