After reviewing the written materials submitted in November and interviewing candidates on Dec. 6, the Mercer Island City Council appointed a new member to fill the vacancy in Position No. 4 this week.
At the end of its Dec. 11 meeting, the council voted in public on each nominee, ultimately selecting a final choice — Lisa Anderl — and nominating her to the seat. The Reporter’s print edition went to press before the meeting.
The candidates did not know ahead of time who the “winner” is. Many of them were likely to attend the meeting in person, but were not required to, according to Ross Freeman, the city’s communication and sustainability manager. The official swearing in is slated for Dec 18.
The vacancy was created when Tom Acker announced his resignation from his council position effective Sept. 29, citing personal health concerns and family commitments. The vacancy drew 12 applicants: Anderl, Elizabeth Buckley, Heather Cartwright, Jonathan Conradt, Darren Gold, Traci Granbois, Thomas Hildebrandt, Leslie Meagley, Matt Murphy, Daniel Odievich, Craig Reynolds and Kwan Wong.
“I personally feel that we are incredibly fortunate to have had both the number and the quality of candidates,” Mayor Debbie Berlin said at the Dec. 11 meeting, adding that it “was by no means an easy decision.”
Cartwright, Conradt and Reynolds also received votes during the first round of the council’s nomination process, with Anderl and Reynolds moving on after the second round. Councilmembers Benson Wong and Bruce Bassett voted for Reynolds in the final round, while Anderl was supported by Mayor Debbie Bertlin, Deputy Mayor Salim Nice and Councilmembers David Wisenteiner and Wendy Weiker.
Many of the residents who threw their hat in the ring for council had served on other city boards or commissions. Buckley served on the Sound Transit Citizen’s Advisory Group. Conradt is a board member of the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation. Hildebrandt serves on the Open Space Conservancy Trust. Reynolds is a member of the Planning Commission. Wong is chair of the city’s Utility Board.
Granbois served as Acker’s campaign coordinator, according to her application. She also was a member of the Town Center stakeholder group in 2015, and also ran for City Council that year.
Several applicants also served on the Community Advisory Group (CAG) convened by city manager Julie Underwood to discuss the city’s financial challenges.
Anderl, Cartwright, Conradt, Meagley, Reynolds and Wong served on the CAG, according to their applications. But they ended up on different sides of the tax debate that consumed Mercer Island this past summer and fall regarding the failed Proposition 1, which was rejected by voters in November’s general election. Anderl and Cartwright were active in the “No on Prop 1” campaign, while Meagley, Reynolds and Wong supported “Islanders Yes.”
Some have not been involved with the city on an elected basis, yet. Murphy is a fourth-generation Islander who worked for the city’s parks and recreation department while in high school and college. Odievich, a refugee from USSR, volunteers in Mercer Island schools.
Nearly all of the applicants cited the city budget, parking and open space as their top priorities if selected for the council position, with others being “transparency and accountability,” infrastructure and planning for light rail and Town Center development, including the Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA).
Once appointed, the new councilmember will go through a comprehensive orientation and training. Position No. 4 will be up for election on the November 2019 ballot. The appointed councilmember will have to file for election in May and campaign to win election to the seat in November. With Position No. 4 now on the ballot, there will be five seats up for election next year.
See www.mercergov.org/CouncilMeetings for more.
Clarification: Prior to the Dec. 6 special meeting, candidates Leslie Meagley and Matt Murphy withdrew their applications.