Letters to the Editor, Sept. 18, 2019

Safety issues; politics in general; candidate endorsements

Pedestrian safety concerns

This summer I was struck by a car while crossing the northern crosswalk of Island Crest Way and 68th Avenue, as the car was turning north onto Island Crest Way. This was not the first time my wife and I have had close calls with traffic at this intersection.

In the week before my most recent incident, my wife and I had two close calls in the same crosswalk. In all three cases, the drivers of the cars focused only on the other vehicles, rather than pedestrians, cyclists, dogs or children. I also learned from a Mercer Island assistant engineer — whom I spoke with after filing a police report — that a driver recently hit a child on a bicycle at this same location. I was told, however, that my report was one of the few instances of a documented mishap, and that to obtain any safety improvements the city needs to hear from other pedestrians who have had similar experiences at that intersection.

Possible remedies for this intersection include pedestrian-activated lights or a traffic light. I urge you to share with the Mercer Island department of public works any dangerous experiences you have had in the same location, so that the city can make the intersection a safe place to cross the street.

Robert Klein

Mercer Island

Tempest in a teapot politics

Whatever your politics, we all get frustrated and discouraged watching national politics play out. It’s all about gotchas and misinformation and finding some perceived dirt and then blowing it into a big storm. There is little discussion of actual policies and the ability for the regular citizens to make good, informed decisions is fractured at best.

One of the good things about local politics is you are close enough to real people and issues that we can get past the misinformation and talk about what really matters.

Recently, Debbie Bertlin made a mistake which she owned up to – “I requested a summary of the City’s NextDoor policy in writing so as to respond fully and accurately to a candidate questionnaire. I sent the email request to City staff from my mercergov email, rather than my campaign email which would have been the appropriate source. I understand this and acknowledge it. I take responsibility.”

I’m not telling you who to vote for. I’m just suggesting every Islander use five minutes of common sense. It was an email sent from the wrong account, end of story. Let’s focus on Bertlin’s and Jacobson’s plans and ideas for Mercer Island and make a decision based on real issues and positions.

Paul Shoemaker

Mercer Island

Say yes to Cartwright

Making Mercer Island better means finding new ways to say “Yes” — “Yes” to opportunity, “Yes” to positive change, and “Yes” to preservation of that which makes our community great.” No person embodies this statement better than Heather Cartwright, Mercer Island City Council candidate for Position #5. Heather has made a career out of innovation. Innovation means finding better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs and existing market needs. Heather has demonstrated her abilities, and the power of “yes” in her professional life. She’s currently delivering cloud innovation technology for health care as a partner and general manager in Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and research team. Prior to that she drove the launch of the Amazon Fresh business and developed and launched the automotive and motorcycle store and the Amazon Part Finder.

People like Heather who innovate and run P&L’s at a company like Amazon for 10 years are successful because they focus on improving customer services while maintaining a profitable budget. I want someone who thinks that way to be running our city government, someone like Heather who has managed and been held accountable to budgets in her professional life, and cares about improving services in our community.

What’s more reassuring is that we’ve seen this kind of work from her already helping our city. Heather was on the Mercer Island Citizen Advisory Group (CAG) in 2017 and 2018. She actively participated in the process and was able to dive deep in the budget numbers, forecasting and budgeting, and she focused on taxpayers. She had a willingness to look for efficiencies, new ways to deliver improved services and cost-savings instead of just asking taxpayers to contribute more money and get the status quo.

Let’s bring innovation and accountability to our city services, and vote for Heather Jordan Cartwright on Nov. 5.

Chris Rupp

Mercer Island

Support Craig Reynolds

I strongly support Craig Reynolds for city council. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed getting to know and working with Craig on a variety of local issues. We served together on the city of Mercer Island’s Community Advisory Group (CAG), formed to evaluate and make recommendations to the city on impending financial challenges. Throughout the CAG process, Craig showed a clear and consistent commitment to digging into the data, was detail-oriented without losing sight of the big picture, and worked very hard to understand all viewpoints.

As a city councilmember, Craig will listen to the community. He understands that every islander is a stakeholder and all voices must be heard. Craig believes in finding solutions to issues that maximize benefits for the greatest number of islanders.

He supports the proposed privately-funded MICA (Mercer Island Center for the Arts) development at the former Tully’s site as a reasonable solution for children and arts in our community (and as a valuable site for islander-only commuter parking). Craig also supports funding for school mental health counselors to assist students, parents and teachers and to promote public safety.

With more than 34 years of experience in the business world, Craig has the finance and problem-solving expertise necessary to help the city address looming financial challenges. His experience will support the development and stability of small businesses, and he understands that a vibrant downtown builds community and convenience for islanders.

I firmly believe that Mercer Island needs leaders who can rise above some of the turbulent and hyper-active public discourse endemic to social media platforms. Mercer Island needs leaders that can separate the facts from rhetoric and engage in thoughtful, deliberate and effective problem solving on behalf of all islanders. Craig is the right candidate at the right time to serve on the Mercer Island City Council.

Brian Thomas

Mercer Island

Bertlin support

I am a long-time resident of Mercer Island writing to show my support for re-electing Debbie Bertlin to the city council. During her tenure on the council, Debbie has repeatedly demonstrated care and understanding for resolving Mercer Island matters, balancing competing interests and views of island residents, and making informed decisions on complex issues. And she does so with professionalism and respect for her colleagues and others.

Debbie has the demeanor and right approach to addressing island issues that I’m sure we all want from leaders in government (local, state and federal). She tackles problems with calmness and civility, and is open to understanding all sides of an issue. Her background and tenure allow her to focus on the crucial matters facing Mercer Island.

In contrast to Debbie’s candidacy, I am concerned that many of the other candidates in the city council race, including her opponent, are inward-looking and solely focused on island concerns from an isolationist standpoint. I believe that is wrong. While I share the concerns of many islanders over the fiscal, traffic, development and environmental issues facing the city, I think solutions to these challenges can and should be resolved by working with our partners in the region, and not solely from an island centric standpoint.

I believe that Debbie has an open ear to the island’s concerns and constituents. She is well suited to develop and implement creative solutions that work with Mercer Island as a focus while fitting into our regional environment. Accordingly, after much consideration, I believe that we should support and re-elect Debbie Bertlin. She remains the type of councilmember that Mercer Island needs right now.

Seth Davis

Mercer Island

Reynolds has the skills

Craig Reynolds has my support for Mercer Island City Council because of his values, his financial skills and his demonstrated leadership. I know Craig personally as a former colleague and actuary.

Craig’s values are grounded in data-driven decision-making, listening to opposing views and finding solutions that best benefit the community. Craig is honest, forthright, forward looking and optimistic. He values civility and neighborliness.

As a consulting actuary, Craig has financial expertise advising insurance industry clients on strategies to protect their policyholders while meeting financial goals. He works with complex models of an uncertain future. His analytic skill is necessary on the council. As a member of the Citizens Advisory Group, he probed the details of the city’s modeling and agreed with the majority that the city had the big issues right. In his consulting practice, he manages a staff and has bottom line accountability for results. He understands how business works, and the role of government in supporting a healthy business environment.

Craig is routinely recognized as a leader in groups where he serves. This arises from his personal commitment to the shared work, his intelligence and his ability to bring people together around shared solutions. He listens deeply and with respect. He speaks honestly and puts in the time. For example, Craig was recently named vice chair of the city’s Planning Commission. In his profession, he was elected president of the Society of Actuaries in a competitive election for the 2015-2016 year. This is a half-time volunteer position leading a 25,000-member organization with a diverse range of issues and challenges. Craig’s leadership was highly effective.

Craig will be a welcome presence on the council, and his service will support a healthy future for our city. Please join me in voting for Craig.

Brad Fowler

Mercer Island

Unequivocally for Bertlin

I unequivocally support Debbie Bertlin who is running for Position 7 on our city council. She has been an inspirational, inclusive, and pragmatic leader for our community

A 40-plus year resident of Mercer Island, she knows well our values and seeks out fellow islanders to join in problem solving. She helped find new homes for our preschools when the district rebuilt on the current site of Northwood. She serves as liaison to our new Parks and Recreation Commission and has shown her substantial commitment to our schools with her ongoing PTA advocacy. Her kids attend the high school and Islander.

Debbie also leans in on matters of growing our inclusivity and encouraging broader participation in local politics. She has led our Island’s celebrations of Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26, eagerly joined the first recognition of Juneteenth, and participated in the American Jewish Committee in April.

Just as important as what she’s done, it is her willingness to surface issues to the community, be it the matter of the bus intercept, city finances, or the need to accelerate our ADA compliance. These can be tough conversations, yet she doesn’t hide behind platitudes or promise unrealistic solutions.

Debbie is smart, engaged and deeply committed to this community. Let’s return her to city council.

Anne McTavish

Mercer Island

Support for Reynolds

We are writing to share some of our reasons for supporting Craig Reynolds for Mercer Island City Council.

Craig has more than 35 years of experience in business and consulting and has served as president of the Society of Actuaries. He understands the “business” side of running a large organization. Craig also understands the “human” side and respects that the city government exists to serve the needs of its residents.

Craig’s calm and thoughtful approach to problem solving is a valuable asset that will help him to make the best possible decisions on the issues that face Mercer Island.

In terms of specific platforms, we are grateful that Craig recognizes the benefit of the parks and green spaces, arts education and enrichment, and the strength that comes with inclusivity. He has modeled his values as a committed volunteer and welcoming neighbor.

Craig has the temperament and skills to serve all members of our city and to ensure that the city council’s decisions are fiscally responsible and forward thinking. He is a natural listener and will consider all sides of an issue while balancing budgetary constraints in consideration of the greater good.

We would all be fortunate to have Craig serve on the city council.

Kate and Tom Lamperti

Mercer Island

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