Letter to the Editor, April 10, 2019

Not seeking re-election

Not seeking re-election

Thank you to the Mercer Island community for allowing me to serve as your city council member these past 12 years — six as mayor. It has been an honor. Today I’m announcing that I will not seek re-election this fall. It’s time for me to pursue new challenges and for fresh faces to join the ranks of our community leaders.

Looking back to recent Island history, our community has navigated some thorny challenges and emerged stronger. Here are a few challenges we faced and advances we made:

• A seismically designed new fire station ensures our first responders can respond quickly to any disaster.

• After cuts to Metro bus service, we developed the popular 630 route as a replacement for commuters and became a test bed for innovative first/last mile ideas.

• The 2014 drinking water contamination event led to big improvements in our emergency notification system and our water monitoring and treatment systems.

• After a multiyear debate, we finally installed the three lane “road diet” on Island Crest Way, and thereby reduced the frequency of non-injury accidents by 61 percent and injury accidents by 75 percent.

• Athletes old and young gained year round turf surfaces at South Mercer and Island Crest parks.

• New trails along Island Crest, around Island Park Elementary and through the open space on Southeast 53rd Place provide safe, enjoyable walking routes.

• Kids have new and improved safe routes to walk and bike to Lakeridge, Northwoods and Mercer Island High School.

• We defeated efforts to toll Interstate 90 and, although we lost SOV access to the HOV lanes, we arrived at a $10 million dollar settlement with Sound Transit that will fund commuter parking, road improvements and better access to transit.

• We made sustainability a priority with the Carbon Challenge, the Green Power Campaign and the Solarize Campaigns. We also changed street lights to LEDs and switched our city electricity to wind power through the Green Direct program with Puget Sound Energy, saving taxpayer money and reducing our environmental impact.

Community building is a team effort involving our citizens, city council and city staff. Public energy inspires council attention, and council consensus determines staff work plans and budget priorities. The improvements I mention above are a credit to all.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2019, I will continue to press on environmental issues through my work with both our city leaders and regional leaders in the K4C (King County Cities Climate Collaboration).

I’m also asking how we can improve civility in public discourse. If we’re going to continue to attract good people to community service, we’ve got to find ways to reduce the vitriol and nastiness. I’m not sure what shape this effort will take yet, and I welcome your ideas and suggestions.

I look forward to working with you as we continue to make Mercer Island a great place to live and raise our families.

Bruce Bassett

Mercer Island