Longtime Councilmember Dan Grausz announces he will not run for re-election

After 18 years of service on the Mercer Island City Council, including four as deputy mayor, Dan Grausz announced that he will not run for re-election, leaving an open seat up for grabs this fall.

“It is definitely time for me to pursue other interests and for others to get involved,” he told the Reporter.

Some of the city’s greatest accomplishments during his tenure, which began in 1999, have involved parks and capital facilities, he said, noting the acquisition of Luther Burbank Park and the Engstrom Open Space, and building the new Mercer Island Community and Event Center, Boys and Girls Club PEAK facility and Fire Station 92.

Other notable projects have been installing pedestrian and bike shoulders on the Mercers, updating the Town Center development code, adding turf fields at the high school, South Mercer Playfields and Island Crest Park, maintaining city funding for school counselors and working with citizens to initiate the Farmers Market and find a resolution for the library renovation.

Grausz said that he anticipates that work on the Interstate 90 litigation and negotiations will wrap up this year, as well as the residential development standards update. The issue hits close to home for the First Hill resident.

“I want to make sure that what we’re seeing in our neighborhoods is brought under control,” he said.

He is leaving some unfinished business, including working with the Mercer Island Center for the Arts to finalize a lease for a site in Mercerdale Park. Grausz has been a vocal supporter of the project and its main tenant, Youth Theater Northwest, as well as other arts organizations and programming on the Island.

“For the next nine months, I will continue doing my work for Islanders with the same passion and determination that I have brought to this position since being elected in 1999,” he wrote in an email update to Islanders.

Overall, he said that he measures job performance on the council by the ability to simply maintain the Mercer Island community.

“Mercer Island is a gem. For the last 14 years, you have entrusted me to keep it that way,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing his last re-election bid in 2013. “That has been an honor and a privilege. I serve on the City Council because I deeply care about this community and because I believe Islanders are entitled to a government that is effective, transparent and committed.”

Despite ending his public service on the council, Grausz said he will still be around.

“I believe in this community and will stay active in my own way,” he said.

He said that his advice for others planning a council run is to not be afraid to lead.

“We have a political climate in this country and community where leaders are reluctant to lead, and believe their charge is to always try to figure out what everyone wants, and to do that,” he said. “People expect you to lead, not to be a polling firm.”

Grausz holds position 2 on the council. Other positions up for election this fall are 4 (currently held by Jeff Sanderson) and 6 (currently held by Benson Wong).