There’s a new mayor in town: Salim Nice.
At the start of the Jan. 4 virtual Mercer Island City Council meeting, the seven-member council voted amongst themselves to fill the mayoral spot that Benson Wong occupied for the last two years.
David Rosenbaum was also selected as deputy mayor by his fellow councilmembers at the meeting. Nice and Rosenbaum will both serve two-year terms for 2022-23.
Both Nice and Rosenbaum were unanimously selected to serve in their positions after receiving nominations by fellow councilmembers Lisa Anderl and Jake Jacobson, respectively. There were no other nominations during the elections.
Anderl said she was pleased to nominate Nice for mayor.
“Having worked with him for three years, I can’t think of a better person to lead the city for the next two years. He understands the issues and the community, he works hard, he is unfailingly prepared, and he can be counted on to encourage public engagement and efficiently manage council meetings,” she said.
Regarding the goals for his term, Nice said the main priority for he and Rosenbaum “will be working with the council and city staff to continue our response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This recovery process offers a unique opportunity to reshape the city’s organization and set our community on a successful path towards the future.”
In a previous Reporter article during the last election season, Nice said that he aims to bring people together, find a balanced perspective and implement sound policies for future generations of Islanders. Nice has served on council since 2017 and was the deputy mayor for 2018-19.
Other current councilmembers are Craig Reynolds, Wendy Weiker (deputy mayor for 2020-21) and Ted Weinberg. The meeting also included swearing-in ceremonies for returning councilmembers Anderl and Nice and newcomer Weinberg, all of whom were elected to council in November.
Nice joins a lengthy list of Mercer Island mayors from 1960-2021: Harold Oliver, Tom Barto, John Day, Cleve Anschell, Peter McTavish, Ben Werner, Aubrey Davis, Beth Bland (Winn), Jim Horn, Fred Jarrett, Elliot Newman, Judy Clibborn, Gordy Edberg, Alan Merkle, Bryan Cairns, Jim Pearman, Bruce Bassett, Debbie Bertlin and Wong.
Wong — who chose not to run for council again — served on council for eight years, first as a councilmember from 2014-2019 and the last two years as mayor during the pandemic.
Economic development sits high on Nice’s priorities list. He cited council and city staff’s tandem effort in recruiting and hiring an economic development coordinator focused on assisting current businesses and those looking to step into the business realm on the Island.
Nice and council took action during the pandemic to support Town Center businesses and ensure public safety by giving eating and drinking establishments the go-ahead to apply for permits to use the city right-of-way for outdoor seating and dining. Those emergency ordinances that council passed were made semi-permanent last month. Nice also made an impact by working with national retailers to establish shopping hours for seniors and at-risk people at local retailers.
He gave some insight into last month’s major announcement that video game developer and publisher Riot Games had purchased the former Farmers Insurance property building.
“We jointly met with Riot Games and Ryan Company ahead of their purchase decision to discuss their vision for locating 400 well-paying jobs in our Town Center and our shared vision for a vibrant and welcoming ‘front door of Mercer Island.’ We discussed our plans for economic development on Mercer Island and opportunities that would benefit local small businesses,” he said.
Jacobson discussed one of the reasons why he nominated Rosenbaum, who began his city council journey in November 2019: “During his tenure on the Mercer Island City Council, he has demonstrated a clear vision of how the best interests of Mercer Island residents are identified and supported by the council. His approach to the issues facing our community has been careful and thoroughly analytical and collaborative.”
Rosenbaum said he is honored to serve as deputy mayor and is deeply humbled to receive support from his colleagues and the community.
“Mercer Island is truly a special place and I am looking forward to continuing to work on behalf of all Islanders to ensure that our city has a bright future. I look forward to working with Mayor Nice, our colleagues on the council, the city staff, and our constituents over the next two years to pave our road into the future,” he said.