City Council Position 7, Andrew Friedman vs. Jake Jacobson

Andrew Friedman and Jake Jacobson are running for Position 7 on the Mercer Island City Council in the Nov. 7 general election. King County Elections mailed out ballots on Oct. 18.

In Friedman’s candidate statement on the King County Elections site, he said that as his daughter enters fifth grade this year, he’s very optimistic about Mercer Island’s future. He noted that Islanders must look forward, not backward, in order to improve on what so many have worked so hard to create for residents.

During his nearly four years on council, incumbent Jacobson has been heavily involved with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, the Parks and Recreation Commission and council’s Sustainability Subcommittee, along with supporting the parks levy and the city’s efforts to address and enhance the reliability of its utility systems and roads, according to a statement.



* Why are you running for Mercer Island City Council?

Hello, all! Earlier this summer, on a sunny Sunday, I was having a conversation with some of my MI neighbors at the farmers market, and the discussion turned towards two schools of thought on the direction of our Island and in relation to our city council: 1. Those council members that are making decisions by looking into the future, and then 2. Those that want to jealously hold on to the MI of their past. Let’s be honest — not every vote has resulted in actions with a forward view. And, with a daughter in one of our elementary schools, I really want to see our Island look into the future as we make decisions, because — as we all know, making decisions while looking into a rear-view mirror rarely will have us arrive together at a good destination. So, as a person who loves all the great things about this Island that makes us love living here, I will dedicate my efforts for you towards looking into that future in order to make the best decisions for all of us, not just a portion of us.

For instance, my opponent’s criticism of our Park Department’s working plans for re-opening city facilities during the pandemic was unreasonable and did not take into consideration the facts on the ground. That criticism didn’t take into consideration the reality that we had to face, nor did it help our Parks Dept. or our community, in the end. Similarly, in a very complex discussion about the repeal the Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) code, which would effectively remove any incentive for developers to build affordable housing on MI, my opponent’s statements during the city council meetings related to the subject to move forward without a solid plan on how to replace it left MI in a position without any plans headed into our future. Not helpful.

* What do you feel are three of the most critical issues on Mercer Island and how do you hope to address them?

This is the most important question in this election.

1. Safety. Thankfully, Mercer Island has a great police department that enjoys a very high level of trust and support from our neighbors. Even with that said, there’s a loud minority of us that seed many conversations with language that leads to decisions made without taking our reality in consideration. I will work with our police department and ensure that the reality of the state of our safety is how we make decisions in the coming years, not any kind of fear-based response, instead, solution-based decisions.

2. Livability on our Island. We live on an amazingly beautiful Island. Driving down East or West Mercer Way is I’m pretty sure one of the most beautiful drives in Seattle. And, because of the growth and how our infrastructure needs to be able to support the expected growth, the council needs to look at these facts and make decisions based on the credible reality of growth, not make decisions as a form of resistance to the expected growth. Our parks need our attention, our north- and south-side business centers need to serve us better, and our very water services can’t be ignored. Effort must be expended. Not everyone on the council wants to look at these realities. Yet, we have to act, because when my opponent, during council debate called for “fiscal sustainability and cost-effective services for all residents,” the reality is that we can’t make decisions for our united future if “cost-effective services” is our principle measure. Sometimes we have to continue to spend to improve our Island, and by constantly encouraging the cutting of services, this does not serve your, my, or our neighbors’ best interests I think many of us would agree.

3. Our business districts. As a life-long small business owner, I know that we can have more vibrant business districts. How can we encourage our neighbors to keep their business on our Island? How can we encourage more businesses to open? How can we help our favorite businesses expand? This is a future we can achieve, this is how we should make decisions, and positions that my opponent has made in the past during public commentary, such as suggesting of the pandemic, “This is not an emergency.” How to help our Island’s future when this kind of decision-making is reflective of my opponent’s thoughts and policies? We need our council to do better, because when during open commentary my opponent argued to de-fund our Chamber of Commerce, I think we can all agree that this didn’t help out local business or their prosperous future, and stating that the “Chamber of Commerce hasn’t done anything for the brick and mortar businesses.”? Not helpful, and many of our local businesses would beg to differ.

* What’s your life philosophy and how can you apply that to council matters?

This is my favorite question. My life philosophy is genuinely to listen to and work with everyone that I can to make decisions on programs to make life better for all of us. This philosophy will direct my every decision — let’s make our decisions based on fact, reason and logic, and make sure that no ideological belief systems are our defining manner of decision-making. What works best for YOU? Let’s talk about that and work towards it. How can I help you and your family look towards the future and grow as our Island grows? That’s how I’ll make decisions — with you in mind. Not based on a measure or litmus of what my opponent and some on the council presently feel may or may not be “cost-effective.” We need services to work well, not just work as well as what cost-cutting will allow. When I voted for Jake four years ago, I trusted his word that his decision would be for all of us, but I am afraid that a laser-focused view of our future based on what’s “cost-effective” didn’t keep that promise to me or to you. A philosophy based on that failed promise does not suit our neighbors well, and certainly not our Island’s future.

I ask for your vote for Mercer Island’s future. Best to you and yours.



* Why are you running for Mercer Island City Council?

I am seeking re-election to the Mercer Island City Council out of a deep commitment to continuing to strengthen our city’s resilience especially as relates to our ability to address both anticipated and unforeseen challenges. This resilience is illustrated by the city’s recent responses to events such as the Island’s water supply interruption and the closure of city hall.

Over my nearly four years on the council, I’ve championed collaborative decision-making and fiscal prudence, steering clear of the relentless tax increases occurring in many other jurisdictions.

As a proud resident of this unique and vibrant community for 34 years, I am driven by a profound sense of responsibility for as well as the opportunities to enhance Mercer Island as a premier place to live, work, and relish life’s moments.

* What do you feel are three of the most critical issues on Mercer Island and how do you hope to address them?

1. City hall and maintenance facility replacement: Leveraging my extensive background in land use, development, and construction, I am committed to identifying the most economical and cost-effective solutions for our primary governmental facilities infrastructure.

2. Revamping Mercer Island’s Comprehensive Plan: With the state-mandated revision approaching in 2024, it’s paramount that our plan holistically reflects the voices and aspirations of our entire Island community.

3. Preservation and enhancement of parks and open spaces: I fervently advocate for safeguarding our parks and open spaces, ensuring they remain havens free from undue external influences. We must strive for inclusivity and accessibility, with facilities that accommodate everyone — a commitment exemplified by the inclusive and accessible playground in Mercerdale Park.

4. City government responsiveness: Our city services must remain agile and responsive. Streamlining processes, such as residential construction permits, and ingraining a service-first mentality across all levels of government is a priority.

5. Climate Action Plan implementation: Once we’ve established the most impactful measures through rigorous cost/benefit analyses, I will focus on implementing policies that meaningfully reduce our carbon footprint, placing Mercer Island at the helm of environmental leadership.

* What’s your life philosophy and how can you apply that to council matters?

Central to my life philosophy is the deep-seated respect for what each individual is rather than what I would want that individual to be. Our city government should function with the genuine endorsement and consent of its citizens, focusing on their voices, values and needs. This belief is based on the importance of active listening, especially to all Mercer Island residents, ensuring that their perspectives guide and shape our decisions.

Additionally, I value humility, being always receptive to feedback, whether positive or negative, and serving this remarkable community first and foremost.