School board and city council candidates weigh in on sustainability survey

Sustainable Mercer Island releases updated version of survey.

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As the general election inches closer, Sustainable Mercer Island has released an updated version of its city council and school board candidates sustainability survey results.

The non-partisan group of Mercer Islanders who explore how to support and accelerate city and school district sustainability initiatives sent four questions to school board director candidates and seven questions to city council candidates prior to the Aug. 3 primary. The information included in this story is only from those persons who are running in the general election on Nov. 2.

SCHOOL BOARD

Lacey Aaker and Deborah Lurie, who are competing for position 4, are the only candidates who responded to the survey. Brian Giannini Upton and Dan Glowitz are running for position 2.

When asked what steps should the school district take in the next four years to support Mercer Island’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Aaker said, in part, “Our food choices and the options we give to students while at school play a tremendous part on our greenhouse gas emissions, so an audit on this avenue could be an excellent next step. Overall, continuing to facilitate the energy and water audits as well as tracking the energy use and costs in each facility is paramount to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Lurie noted that, “Protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are always considered when making facility decisions. We regularly conduct a cost/benefit analysis when determining what products or improvements to make. I believe this is best practice and will continue to make decisions with impact on the environment being one of the major considerations.”

CITY COUNCIL

On the city council front, all general election candidates responded to the survey: Daniel Becker and Salim Nice (position 2), Michael Curry and Ted Weinberg (position 4) and Kate Akyuz and Lisa Anderl (position 6).

When asked if they support the development of a Mercer Island Climate Action Plan and to discuss the value of such a planning document, their responses, in part, read:

Akyuz gave her support and said that, “With more than 40% of our greenhouse gases coming from private automobiles, there is clearly a need to address our transportation infrastructure and how it drives a good chunk of our emissions. Last mile commuter solutions are at the heart of this issue, and we need strong motivation to address this issue so more folks can take advantage of public transportation for commuting to work, sporting events, and other off-island venues.”

Anderl’s response was, “The development of a climate action plan is in our Comprehensive Plan. I support working on the goals in the Comprehensive Plan as time and resources allow. I would like to hear citizens’ views on whether a specific climate action plan for Mercer Island is important.”

Becker is supportive and added that without a formal plan for Mercer Island, “We are unlikely to hit the targets that we have already committed to, let alone future targets. We need to determine the most effective actions we can take, and we need clear guidelines for quantitatively tracking the results of those actions as we move forward.”

Curry is in favor of the plan and noted that, “It’s important to capture our thoughts on present planning and our view of what the future may hold. These plans should be reviewed on a regular cadence to ensure their viability.”

Nice gave the plan a nod of approval and discussed his history in supporting the plan: “I lobbied for and received the support of the Sustainability Committee to recommend to the full Council additional consultant support to deliver a draft Climate Action Plan for public engagement beginning in the spring of 2022. The CAP will be the organizing document for sustainability-related initiatives moving forward, which will bring much-needed structure to Mercer Island’s sustainability efforts.”

Weinberg said he supports the plan, adding, “Addressing climate change is a large and complex challenge that will take many years and many programs running in concert to be effective. Having a decades-long Climate Action Plan puts all the puzzle pieces together and then enables us to break it down, piece by piece, into more manageable and implementable programs. We can then prioritize, sequence, fund, staff, and implement those programs within our bi-annual Sustainability Work Plans.”

To view the full surveys, visit the school board link at https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/c0c03ad9-02ec-4edd-461a-0e9f77361cb4, and the city council link at https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/1be11ad5-0de2-4c10-59f6-3a2fd3f6a014.


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