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Mayor Wong: ‘I have decided not to seek a third term’

Dear Mercer Island Community,

Last year was certainly a challenging year for our community and for each of us personally. Unfortunately, I suspect many of you were individually touched negatively by the coronavirus pandemic and for that I am sorry and hope that you are able to surround yourself with support and comfort.

On the city-level, we saw the decline of city services and the layoff of many long-time employees due to lower revenue. With the distribution of vaccines occurring, I know that we all want to see the pandemic in that “rearview mirror.”

Moving ahead in 2021, there are many issues that need to be addressed including (i) working with our legal team in the city’s litigation with Sound Transit, (ii) developing and implementing a restart of the city’s Parks and Recreation Program and the Mercer Island Thrift Shop, (iii) developing stabilized funding for crucial counseling services, (iv) revising the Code of Ethics, and (v) reaching agreement with King County on the revised growth targets for jobs and housing units on Mercer Island.

This year I look forward to hearing from you and to engaging in robust and civil discussions with you, the other Councilmembers and our City Manager and staff on how to best move forward. Working together we will address these issues.

However, after this year I will not be on the City Council. I have decided not to seek a third term. For those who track the attendance of Councilmembers at Council meetings, you may have noticed that I was absent from a budget meeting in October 2020 (I believe it was only the second meeting that I have missed since being elected over 7 years ago). The reason for my absence was because I was discharged from the hospital the day before the meeting after having unexpected open heart bypass surgery. The need for the surgery was a shock.

What started with a fainting spell, quickly led to a stress test and the discovery that I had 100% blockage of the artery that could have led to a “widow-maker” heart attack. Surgery followed within a few weeks.

Bottom line – listen to your body and to those around you that encourage you to see a doctor if something unusual occurs. Fortunately, I am on the road to recovery (which can be from 6 months to 12 months after the surgery). That event certainly put things in perspective. With two small grandchildren on the Island, I want to make sure that I am able to spend as much time with them (and the rest of my family) as I can.

It has been a true honor and privilege to serve you on the City Council and as Mayor. I plan to devote the necessary time and energy through 2021 to make this community a better place to live for all of us. Next year, I will be looking for other ways to continue to serve this community, my home. Take care and stay safe and healthy.

Benson Wong

Mayor of Mercer Island


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