Letters to the editor, July 31, 2019

Elections; thank-you

Support for Rivera-Dirks

I’m a recent Mercer Island High School graduate who was an elected class representative, an editor of the student newspaper, and active in political causes. For students and young people, it can sometimes be easy to see local governmental entities as detached from our perspectives and experiences. I was thus pleasantly surprised when John Rivera-Dirks was willing to sit down with me for two hours to discuss his candidacy for School Board Position 5.

John listened to my perspective on the issues facing our schools, and he expressed a willingness to hold a forum with Mercer Island students. Here are some additional reasons why he has my vote:

A focus on policy, not partisanship. Following the advice of current and past school board members, John didn’t apply for endorsements from political parties or partisan organizations. His policies are the most detailed, comprehensive, and substantive of any candidate. This is especially relevant given that he is pursuing a nonpartisan position.

An understanding of what our schools need. When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social-emotional learning, John knows what he’s doing. One of his top priorities is securing sustainable funding for dedicated youth mental health counselors in our schools. He’s the only candidate so far to publicly support competitive pay for educators on his website.

An excellent background for the job. John works in the education technology field and actively volunteers in the Mercer Island community. Not only has he reached out to many parent and constituent groups, but his candidacy is driven by student needs. His training in economics and business qualifies him to handle the budgetary issues our district faces.

John is running a positive, issue-centered grassroots campaign. I hope you’ll join me in voting for him by Aug. 6.

Grady Yuthok Short

Mercer Island

Bertlin support

I am writing to urge my fellow islanders to re-elect Debbie Bertlin to Mercer Island City Council.

Debbie is smart, kind, understands the issues, and is deeply committed to Mercer Island. I feel very lucky that she is taking a break from a successful career in the private sector to serve my community.

Our island lies just 2,000 meters from the fastest growing city on the West Coast. It would be impossible, and frankly, undesirable, for us to imagine our town would not have to flex and adapt as we adjust and benefit from this unprecedented growth in wealth and population, and its accompanying struggles. Debbie Bertlin understands the issues, she understands the regulations which dictate where and how we can make demands on the state and regional authorities, and will always advocate for Mercer Island whenever possible.

She understands the state taxation structure, which has capped our city tax revenue increases at just 1 percent a year, despite the fact that costs in our region have risen by 2 percent in just the past year. Debbie understands what matters to Islanders — her family, including her parents and three children, live in this community, and every decision she makes is informed by how she can best serve all Islanders, especially its senior citizens and children.

Please consider casting your vote for Debbie Bertlin.


Robin Li

Mercer Island

Support for Jacobson

Mercer Island has many serious issues to be determined currently. I encourage everyone to vote for city council candidate Jake Jacobson for Position 7. Jake offers valuable knowledge and experience I believe will be beneficial as the council makes decisions for our community’s future.

I have known Jake for many years as an especially kind and helpful neighbor. He has a fun sense of humor, is an incredibly hard worker, and always willing to lend a hand or his expertise when needed. I have observed him provide patient guidance for at least three young people as they learned to be conscientious effective workers. They have gone on to be entrepreneurs with their own successful companies.

I appreciate that Jake has been helpful in our community working on a successful school bond issue to ease overcrowding even without children currently in the schools. Jake has been assisting Mercer Island Youth and Family Services in helping provide volunteers for the thrift store and provided his time and funds as a table captain at the annual fundraising breakfast. He has served on a time-consuming Mercer Island CAG.

Most importantly, in the position on our council Jake has skills that will serve the city well. He is an experienced skilled negotiator successfully resolving issues with several public agencies including the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit, vitally important to Mercer Island.

With his law background and as a primary leader in a construction company dealing with government and construction contracts, Jake is experienced with employment law and extensive work with unions as well as solid knowledge of procurement and contracts and construction and development practices. His experience and demeanor will be especially valuable for Mercer Island.

Please join me in voting for Jake Jacobson on Aug. 6 as a strong addition to our council.

Carolyn Kelso

Mercer Island

Candidate endorsement

I am supporting city council candidate Jake Jacobson for position 7. Jake has a degree from Princeton and a law degree from Stanford. He commanded a navy ship.

He just completed 24 years in the construction industry where he dealt with Washington state departments of transportation and ecology, King County, Sound Transit and several federal agencies.

In his construction career and in his tenure as a trustee and officer of the AGC of Washington Jake has demonstrated a concern for and keen ability to analyze and deal with financial issues conservatively and prudently. He has both short term and long term financial focus, both of which I believe we sorely need on the council.

Some of his local volunteer activities include: Past president of the Associated General Contractors of Washington, Mercer Island Road Diet CAG, Mercer Island Schools Committee for levies, fundraising for MIYFS and MISF. He is a very capable leader who listens to and hears the view of others.

Jake has chosen to be self-funded to make sure that he is not seen as in someone’s or some group’s “pocket.” He will only be there to serve the needs of the Island that we all love.

Terry Deeny

Mercer Island

Eagle Scout project success

I’m writing as a thank you to the community and a follow up to this paper’s coverage of my Eagle Service project, “MIHS Eagle Scout hopeful leads drive to collect eyeglasses for people in need.”

As a result of Scout Troop 647’s distribution of nearly a thousand door-hanger collection bags in Island neighborhoods, and subsequent awareness about our collection efforts via this newspaper and other outlets, we saw an overwhelming outpouring of community support and generosity. I had hoped to collect about a hundred pairs of glasses for people in need, but instead, we were able to collect more than 950 pairs of glasses.

About a third of these came from door hangers, another third came from collection boxes in New Seasons Market, Mercer Island Pediatrics and other locations. The box at south end QFC overflowed more than four times, in part because its manager, Larry Horton, himself a former Eagle Scout, donated dozens of reading glasses the store couldn’t sell.

The final third came from a number of people who read about the project and contacted me to arrange for delivery, including a woman who mailed a box of glasses from Oklahoma.

I delivered these glasses to the Northwest Lions Eyeglasses Recycling Center in Olympia, where they will be processed and then distributed for free to people who can’t afford glasses, including homeless shelters right here in the Northwest as well as developing countries all around the world. I saw a picture of a little girl who was smiling broadly because at the age of 10 she was getting her first pair of glasses.

Because of Mercer Island’s generosity, nearly 1,000 more people will be given the gift of sight. Thank you.

Daniel Hankes

Eagle Scout Candidate

Troop 647, Mercer Island

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