Letters to the Editor, Sept. 11, 2019

Candidate endorsements; thank you

Jacobson for parks

Our city council has a history of trying to use parkland for other than parks. Multiple attempts have been made to use Mercerdale Park for other than parkland, including a firehouse, City Hall, a performing arts center and others. Pioneer park was proposed for a golf course. Kite Hill was proposed for conversion to a parking facility

Mercer Island parks are irreplaceable, invaluable, and serve to maintain the beauty, utility, and sustainability of the Island. Parks provide playgrounds, sports fields, wooded trails, and an uncommon sense of nature. Parks improve air quality, mitigate global warming, and provide habitat for wildlife.

Mercer Island parks contribute to the economic value of Island properties and high quality of life for which many of us moved here. The city’s financial statement puts a historical value of $107 million (market value is considerably more) on our open space and parkland. The annual economic benefits of Mercer Island parks is estimated to be $8.3 million.

Together, Mercer Island parks provide a landmark distinction and pride for residents.

City council candidate Jake Jacobson’s position on parks is that, as an Island, we are not able to create or acquire any additional land. However, we need to ensure that our parks remain parks.

Jake will work to ensure that our parks, trails and beaches remain unique and accessible attributes of our community and believes there should be a conversation with the community regarding putting all parks into a trust.

The transfer of public parkland to private hands deprives Mercer Islanders of their ability to not only enjoy that space in the future, but in certain instances, the city has a contingent financial liability if a development would fail.

Please join me in supporting Jake Jacobson for city council and the preservation of our Parks.

Meg Lippert

Mercer Island

Reynolds support

Craig Reynolds should be the choice of Mercer Islanders in a city council election that is vital to the future of our Island and the next generation.

Craig is an MIT-educated actuary who has both the intelligence and commitment to our community to lead us with responsible growth and prudent fiscal management. His service on our city’s Planning Commission has yielded the correct mix of expansion of our retail tax base and opportunities for new businesses without impacting the character of our Island.

Please do not be confused about candidates who preach a mythical “we will work out a budget” or “I can cut 5 percent off any budget” without any specifics — except silly penny-saving proposals like eliminating color copies and ending city proclamations. Like all other Washington cities, Mercer Island has limited opportunities for new revenues. Constantly cutting services — whether it be the Summer Celebration, school counselors, parks maintenance and police/fire personnel — will have a drastic impact on us and our children. Craig is committed to ensuring a safe Mercer Island with the services we have all come to expect and enjoy.

Having had the opportunity to run a municipality with a budget slightly larger than Mercer Island, I can attest that Craig is uniquely qualified to do the same. I urge you to vote for him.

Stephen A. Smith

Mercer Island

Support for Jacobson

Jake Jacobson has been my neighbor for well over a decade. He has been active in the community, volunteering his time and donating money to support Mercer Island. Jake worked on the school bond campaign to ease overcrowding in our schools. The prior school bond had failed, and Jake didn’t want to see Mercer Island students suffer, so he jumped in, spending countless hours talking to Mercer Island residents, raising awareness of the growing overcrowding issue in the schools. Our school bond passed, and a fourth elementary school was built and Islander Middle School and Mercer Island High School were expanded. Jake’s children were no longer in the school system, but he believes in education and wanted to contribute in a meaningful way. Nearly a decade has gone by and Jake’s commitment is still here. In addition to volunteering his personal time, Jake donates money to the Mercer Island community. He has been a table captain for the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services annual breakfast for years.

In addition to being a dedicated, caring and compassionate individual, Jake is a skilled negotiator with a history of successfully resolving issues with public agencies, including the Washington State Department of Transportation, King County, the city of Seattle, Sound Transit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Air Force. He has experience with employment law and has worked extensively with unions. This background will be particularly important as many of Mercer Island’s employees are represented by unions. Additionally, Jake has deep knowledge of construction and development practices and laws as well as procurement and contracts. This will be particularly important as Mercer Island has many projects underway with no active city attorney.

Change is a fact of life. Our success in navigating change will be in the approach. I’m confident that Jake will help us position Mercer Island for a bright future.

Jane Smith

Mercer Island

Reynolds’ virtues

As a member of Craig Reynold’s campaign team, I have had the pleasure of accompanying him as he meets with Mercer Island residents to hear what their priorities and concerns are for our community. I have been impressed by his responses and his approach. He draws on his career as an actuary for financial forecasting and budgeting expertise and on his volunteer work as a member of both the Community Advisory Group and the Mercer Island Planning Commission for his understanding of public issues and how to reach consensus.

I have found Craig to be consistently honest, candid and transparent, and open minded. He listens and communicates respectfully even when he disagrees. He is a proponent of fact-based decision making. He believes in solutions that are realistic and maximize benefits for the most number of Islanders.

Where others see problems, Craig sees opportunities. He wants to retain the city services that make the Island a safe and wonderful place to live and take advantage of changes that are coming, like it or not, such as light rail. He believes that police, fire, school counselors and our library are essential services to retain. He sees MICA (Mercer Island Center for the Arts) and a vibrant downtown core as opportunities to explore.

Craig has the experience and temperament to be an outstanding city council member and a community leader. Please join me in voting for Craig Reynolds for city council.

Lynda Olson

Mercer Island

Impressed by Jacobson

There are many reasons we should all be voting. Sometimes I fear if we don’t vote we will either the lose direction we want to take our democracy or keep going with the status quo that will not likely be beneficial for us locally or nationally.

Last evening I attended my first local political event ever. I have not been a fan of our legacy council — especially Mayor Bertlin, and councilmembers Bruce Basset and Wendy Weiker.

I am a life-long Islander and recall family discussions about a prior legacy council member and a mayor named Aubrey Davis. He was known for fighting hard for all Islanders. My folks liked him as he stood up early on and said “Don’t mess with our parks or residential neighborhoods (ie zoning).”

My sense is the current council has worked hard to try to destroy our parks (MICA in Mercerdale Park), CFZ (community facilitis zone) zoning to turn the JCC/ FAS (Stroum Jewish Community Center/French American School of Puget Sound) into a mega sized complex in a residential neighborhood and create a bus intercept that is suited to a city 10 times our size. Granted we need to be cognizant of the streams and population near the island, but we do not need to solve all of their issues on the backs of Islanders.

Last night I was able to meet one of the new candidates running for city council, Jake Jacobson. I came away impressed that he was grounded in the needs of Islanders first. He was not afraid to state his position on issues which is not true of every politician. He also seems to have a tremendous enthusiasm for getting involved and helping take us in a new direction than many of our current council members have pushed for.

If you have not met the new candidates I encourage you to reach out and please vote on Nov. 6.

Mark A Hall

Mercer Island

Jacobson’s interest is Mercer Island

Mercer Island has a very important election in November, and it gives us the opportunity to make some much needed changes in who we wish to represent us on our next City Council. Many residents have been expressing their concerns over the direction in which we seem to be heading with far more attention being paid to the larger geographical area of our county than that which might be best for the welfare of Mercer Island. Now is the right time to make that change in our leadership.

I am writing to endorse Jake Jacobson for Position 7 on our city council. Jake, like me, is a longtime resident who considers this small island a most fortunate gift that has been given to us to not only enjoy its beautiful beaches, wooded areas, lovely parks, and outstanding school district, but also as our hometown to be protected and improved with our skills and talents.

Jake has outstanding qualifications and experiences as an attorney and as a skilled negotiator for resolving issues with public agencies such as we are dealing with presently: WSDOT, Sound Transit, city of Seattle and others as we become even more deeply involved with being considered the prime location for the regional transportation hub between Seattle and the far Eastside.

During his 30 years living on Mercer Island, he has been a volunteer for many Mercer Island civic activities such as MIYFS (Youth and Family Services) and Mercer Island School District bonds and levies. Now he would like to devote his time, skills and energy to serving us as a member of the city council, and to help lead us out of the problems that have accumulated over the past several elections when some electeds seemed to think that serving Mercer Island in a leadership position would make a nice stepping stone to higher future political careers. Jake’s interest is Mercer island.

Betty Morgan

Mercer Island

Thank you

Thank you to Mercer Islanders who supported a vision.

Rotarian Beth Baska envisioned placing peace poles on our island. In supporting her dream, members of her Rotary Club engaged with fellow Mercer Islanders who listened, negotiated and worked in partnership.

In the process we learned what it was like to accomplish a task peacefully. Today, 20 poles are in place to remind us it is our choice to respect or to disparage, to look for common ground or make an enemy. We learned that peace-making is in our hands.

We are deeply grateful to the following people who made the placement of the poles possible:

The Mercer Island City Council — Debbie Bertin, Salim Nice, Bruce Bassett, Wendy Weiker, David Wisenteiner, Benson Wong, and Tom Acker.

VFW Hall’s Frank Sorba.

High school and middle school — Donna Colosky, Kendall Taylor and Tony Kuhn.

Boys and Girls Club — Bridget Powers and Tony Kuhn

King County Library — Jacqueline Highfill

Covenant Living at the Shores — Robert Howell and Greg Asimakoupoulos

Wildwood Park — John Bondi

Pioneer Park – Open Space Conservancy Trust, Marie Bender, Carol Lynn Berseth, Thomas Hildebrandt, Craig Olson, Geraldine Poor, Rory Westberg and David Wisenteiner

The Jewish Community Center – Amy Levine

North and south fire stations – Steve Heitman and John Novak

Mercer Island City Hall — Julie Underwood

Mercer Island Parks — Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department, Bruce Fletcher, Paul West, Alaine Sommargren, Sarah Bluvas, Diane Moretenson and the Parks Maintenance Team

The Sculpture Garden — Arts Council, Erin Vivion, Fnu Anumeha, Erik Gordon, Matt Lome, Sam Nice, Damian Schwiethale, Xixi Shakes, Suzanne Skone, Gaylene Vaden and Amy Barnes.

A special thanks to Amy Barnes who gave us a place to stand. Amy expressed what we learned about creating a peaceful, inclusive community. It is a collaborative effort.

Carol Friends

Member of Rotary Club of Mercer Island and Mercer Island Peace Committee

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