Kate Akyuz is ready to fit local politics into her schedule, which is already brimming with a challenging full-time job as an environmental scientist and as the mother of three children in a blended family.
“The job of government is too important to leave to others, and I know that I have the experience and skill set to do good things for the city,” said Akyuz, 45, who has lived on Mercer Island for eight years and works in the King County Water and Land Resources Division.
When someone asked her to run for council in the November 2021 general election, Akyuz didn’t know if she had the time to delve into city agendas and more, but her friend said that busy people get things done. Akyuz agreed and will run for the Position 6 seat that will soon be vacant with Mayor Benson Wong’s retirement.
Akyuz thinks the council is missing the science aspect that she’ll bring to the table if elected. The candidate said she has government experience and knows the State Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act and more. She earned a bachelor’s degree in urban forestry from the University of Washington and a master’s in forest and ecosystem sciences from State University of New York.
“I have a pretty good sense of whether a topic is ripe to bring to the public or not,” said Akyuz, noting that two topics she’s passionate about on the Island are securing long-term stable funding for Youth and Family Services and parks conservancy.
Part of the reason that this is the ideal time for Akyuz to run for council is that decision makers need to understand the breadth and magnitude of what needs to be done to restore salmon, she said. “That starts at the local level, that starts with our zoning, that starts with how we incentivize people to treat shorelines,” she added.
Public engagement is also vital, she said, noting that she will strive to have all community members’ voices be heard at council meetings.
Akyuz’s robust schedule also includes being a Girl Scout troop leader and a volunteer and donor to Youth and Family Services and the Parent Teacher Associations. Her three children — including one with special needs — attend Island public schools.
“Kate will bring energy and perspective to issues facing the city council,” said Girl Scout mentor Jody Kris. “She is a good listener and genuinely interested in hearing all perspectives on issues and bridging gaps to find consensus wherever possible.”