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Questions for the Candidates: Central & South Wards

CENTRAL WARD, DISTRICT 4

Clarence MoriwakiClarence Moriwaki

Bio

I was a Tukwila City Council Member (1987-1991) and have held responsible positions in the Clinton Administration, Office of the Governor, Office of Congressman Jay Inslee, Washington State Senate, Kitsap County Commissioners Office, Sound Transit and the ACLU of Washington. I’ve also served as CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington. For more than 20 years on Bainbridge Island, I’ve served on numerous City of Bainbridge Island citizen committees, non-profit and community groups, currently serving as President of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and as a Founding Member and Vice President of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association.  I’ve been in public service since my early youth, becoming our state’s first and only 12 year-old Eagle Scout. For my years of volunteer service, the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce named me the 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Website: www.clarenceforbainbridge.us

1. Why are you running for City Council?

I believe that Bainbridge Island deserves responsive, responsible and predictable government.

I believe that the people should expect and deserve a City Council that works with total respect, honesty and transparency.

I have more than 30 years of civic and government service. These opportunities for public service have come to me because I know how to work with people, I know how government functions and I know how to get things done.

That is the way I work. It is the only way I know how to work. I believe that Bainbridge Islanders need and want that kind of servant.

I have lived by and fully understand the norms, rules, responsibilities and ethics that govern elected officials, and as a member of the Bainbridge Island City Council, I will work to elevate the discussion and to provide our community with a renewed reason to trust the judgement of their elected representatives.

2. What is the single biggest issue facing Bainbridge Island right now, and how do you propose we solve it?

Affordable Housing

As a board member of the Bainbridge Island Health, Housing and Human Services Council (2001-2003),  I was a vocal advocate for our neighbors in need of help and support, affordable housing and access to basic health and human services. Under the council’s umbrella, the city created the Community Housing Coalition to research and create policies for affordable and public housing.

I wrote a series of guest columns in the Bainbridge Island Review spotlighting these pressing concerns, saying back then that “People who live here can’t afford to work here, and people who work here can’t afford to live here.” That was true 20 years ago, and with the recent, skyrocketing cost of real estate, it has become more acute than ever.

Affordable housing is not just good public policy, it’s a necessary public safety concern.

With the vast majority of our first responders and health care providers living off island, we are just one major emergency away from not being adequately protected.

Imagine if an earthquake caused widespread damage, fires and injuries, and the majority of our first responders are not able to perform their duties and save lives because the Agate Pass Bridge and ferry terminals are either damaged or destroyed.

We must be creative and use every tool possible to encourage, require and create affordable housing opportunities for our seniors on fixed incomes and the first responders, teachers, health care providers, restaurant and hospitality workers, government staff and all others who make our city work. So far, meaningful progress has mainly come from the efforts of Housing Resources Bainbridge, not from the City. The City needs to be a better partner in creating affordable housing.

One way to better achieve our affordable housing goals is to be more proactive in implementing the carefully thought out ideas and proposals from the Affordable Housing Task Force. Their 2017 report’s analysis and recommendations should be the foundation of which the city should use to move forward and help create affordable housing.

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Rasham NassarRasham Nassar

Bio

I was elected to the Bainbridge Island City Council in 2017 and am currently serving as the Council’s Mayor, having been elected to the position by my peers; my contributions include service on the Race Equity Advisory, Utility Advisory, Kitsap Coordinating Regional Council, Tree, and Public Farmland Committees. I have a B.A in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and am a 2nd-year law student at Seattle University, a mother to two boys, ages 5 and 3, and an avid trail runner that enjoys time with my children at our Island’s parks and playgrounds or at home on our small organic farm.

Website: www.reelectrasham.com

1 Why are you running for City Council?

I am running for reelection because I have extensive experience working on local issues and understand the intricacies of local land use issues as well as or better than almost anyone on this Island. I stand up for community values and neighborhood concerns and am highly engaged with our community. For years I have been working with local community groups to manage growth, protect groundwater and maintain our rural island character. I have a wealth of experience and knowledge about our city’s rules and regulations, where the problems lie and what needs to be changed. I am focused on local issues, not state or national issues. I enjoying solving problems over just talking about them. Many on our council talk and grandstand and express concern about an issue, but ultimately do nothing of substance. Rather than talk, I prefer to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I am a work horse, not a show horse, with a record of accomplishments to show for my efforts.

People should vote for me because I have a proven community leader with a proven track record on local issues who has shown a willingness to step up time and again to do what needs to be done to protect the “hometown” feel of Winslow, our neighborhoods, our community and our rural island character.

2. What is the single biggest issue facing Bainbridge Island right now, and how do you propose we solve it?

All the major issues facing Bainbridge Island are interconnected and together form a collective issue that we can think of as sustainability, which is a major goal or guiding principle of our Comprehensive Plan. I think of sustainability in a fiscal sense as well, meaning, we should slow the ever expanding cost of governance to a level that is sustainable. In that context, below are my top priorities.

One priority is to revise the Winslow Master Plan to focus growth near transportation hubs and retail services. While this will reduce parking demand, I also support “smart” parking solutions and support for nonmotorized and public transit connectivity to Winslow to make it more accessible to rural islanders, townies and tourists alike. I have opposed restrictions to temporary vacation rental restrictions because these “air bnbs” provides economic sustenance to our Island and brings tourists to shop in our local stores. I support creating a vibrant downtown which includes working to maintain Winslow’s small town feel and charm which is what makes it an attractive destination for urban tourists from Seattle.

Another priority is to curtail government overspending, particularly for the proposed new police station/courthouse, which is on track to be one of the most expensive police stations ever built for its size. Taxpayers may have to pay $23 million for a new station if the current plan stands. Typical costs are around $550-$650/sf. The current plan may cost close to $1300/sf. There is still time to develop better alternatives such as rebuilding the existing station, which could save about $10 million and would place the police and courthouse near downtown shops and a major transportation hub and help to revitalize the east side of Winslow Way. I have advocated for killing the proposed police/courthouse plan as a gross waste of taxpayer dollars, or putting the question to the voters. Our community has previously rejected a $15 million police station proposal by a 3-1 margin, so I am confident a public vote would terminate the project, but my preference is for the council to step up and do its job as responsible fiduciaries and stop throwing good money after bad.

It is also a priority to work on practical solutions to affordable housing. In particular, we need to keep residents from being forced off the island because they can no longer afford to live here, such as when they retire. Also important is providing some affordable housing for our retail workforce, many who commute from off-island. I support the Wintergreen affordable housing project on High School Road and am actively seeking to eliminate the regulatory hurdles that are threatening the success of that project.

Another priority is to simplify our regulatory framework, especially for affordable housing, shoreline regulations, and land use permitting. It is becoming almost normal for even routine permits to take many months to years. Such delays drive up construction costs and housing prices. Shoreline owners face similar problems. Even simple projects, such as reroofing a structure, can take many, many months to get permitted, if at all. Permits now often require expensive studies or analysis, so permits are both costly and time-consuming with an uncertain outcome.

Another concern is that our sewer systems seem to overflow with increased regularity, polluting Puget Sound and harming marine life such as orcas and salmon. Even the treated discharge of sewage into Puget Sound has many contaminants. A priority is upgrading our sewer to have “tertiary” treatment. This produces clean, non-polluting outflow and helps to maintain our high standard of living and quality of life.

I am also concerned about groundwater, particularly because of the increasing droughts and heat waves caused by climate change. We have not accounted for climate change effects and don’t know how much growth we can accommodate without depleting our groundwater.

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Sal DeRosaliaSal DeRosalia

Bio

Hello everyone, my name is Sal DeRosalia and I am running as the only pro business candidate on the ballot to become the next elected City Council member for Bainbridge Island, Central Ward, District 5. A bit about me: I was born in NYC in 1979 to Ana and John DeRoalia. I moved upstate to Kingston, NY at the age of 12 and lived there until I helped a friend move to beautiful Bainbridge Island in March of 2000. I have been here ever since. Since becoming a resident 21 years ago, I have done things such as serving my community for 7 years, free of charge, as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. I was honored to have sat on boards and contributed to wonderful organizations like Bainbridge Youth Services, Lets Make Some Noise Kids Against Cancer and most recently Living Arts Cultural Heritage, a 501c3 I helped found with local volunteer and activist Karen Akeaya Vargas. Along with being a resident and volunteer, I have owned and operated several small businesses on Bainbridge for 20 years. First was a computer consulting firm called Bainbridge Computer Center on the corner of Winslow and 305. Next up was my gym of 10 years, Outcome Athletics. My latest venture is the popular local news show, Wake Up Bainbridge which has over 500 episodes and 100,000 views. I am proud to say that these companies all hired local staff, provided wonderful services and gave back to the community through fundraisers, free memberships, products and food drives with the likes of Helpline House. When elected, my job will be to serve the entire community by listening and representing you when it comes time to make the right decisions. I believe my blend of unique experiences and skill set prepare me to represent the Central Ward and serve the entire island. When elected, my top 5 concerns and priorities will be: Strong Stable Small Business Community, Fulfilling the Comprehensive Plan, Transparency in City Government Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Housing/Affordable Housing.

Website: www.sal4council.com

1. Why are you running for City Council?

Over the last 3 years, few Island residents have paid more attention or been more involved with the City of Bainbridge Island, City Council, or committees and task forces than myself. I made it my career to create a news show dedicated to covering the issues most important to our community. In doing this I have engaged with hundreds of Island residents, business owners & staff, stakeholders, organization leaders, department chiefs, parents, board members, politicians, city staff, and more. I believe I am the most well rounded, pragmatic, and prepared candidate on the ballot to do the job of representing the diverse citizenry of Bainbridge Island. Especially the business community.

2. What is the single biggest issue facing Bainbridge Island right now, and how do you propose we solve it?

I believe that housing, especially affordable housing, is the single most important issue on Bainbridge Island. Since the release of the Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report in 2017, not much has been done to address the needs of housing and/or affordable housing on the island. The Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report lays out very specific and actionable steps the City Council must take in order to begin to meet the needs of the housing issues on Bainbridge Island.

When we address housing issues, we will address the other major issues that surround it like “density”, traffic, sidewalks and trails, etc… This will have a direct impact on local businesses and their employees. Can the people who work on Bainbridge afford to live here or will they have to continue to come from off island?

If I am elected to Bainbridge Island City Council Central Ward District 5, I would use my position and platform to tirelessly champion for affordable housing of all kinds on the island. To do so I would coordinate and collaborate with stakeholders, experts and organizations (such as HRB) in the community to bring the following actions to council for immediate review and adoption:

  • Re-commission an employee part time to work on Affordable Housing as had been designated in the past (Jennifer Sutton or other designee).
  • Create a standing affordable housing committee.
  • Use the data from our Affordable Housing Task Force Final Report combined with the newly released Status of Bainbridge Island Housing report to assist in creating the badly needed Bainbridge Island Housing Action Plan.
  • Implement the Bainbridge Island Housing Action Plan which would include immediate and long term solutions for affordable housing. (see below)

I believe we need a committed team in the form of a standing committee, staff and budgetary support along with a real plan of action. Cherry picking an ADU ordinance or only providing incentive based affordable housing programs will create no significant change that is equitable for all. These are things we should be doing at the same time as we create a housing action plan full of well thought out steps from professionals and stakeholders in our community.

The majority of the public and council agree that housing is a major issue on the island; this is an easy win for our community.

A housing action plan will help provide the city with a strategic framework and identify actions designed to achieve Bainbridge Island’s affordable housing objectives. The planning process includes a review of housing needs, existing housing inventory, and unique community and market factors, and is informed by a robust public engagement component.

Other items I would introduce include streamlining of the permit process and giving priority and reduced fees for affordable housing. The current permitting process at the City is in need of a major overhaul with wait times as long as 6 months for some single family residences. Those wait times can price folks out who can barely afford to build on their lot to begin with. Time is money and with the current price of building materials being triple what they were just a few years ago, it’s almost impossible for most. Fixing the building permit process and applying incentives for affordable housing helps everyone.

In addition, C.O.B.I. needs to create new revenue streams to strengthen the Housing Trust Fund. With more funds, they can be given out regularly and in larger sums to those programs and projects that qualify. New revenue streams can come in the form of a sales tax, property tax, percentage of funds for workforce affordable housing from Bainbridge Island lodging tax and we can use our excellent credit rating as a city to secure funds for affordable housing projects. This is why we have good credit, let’s put it to use.

There are many more wins that we can collect if the will of the Council is to work together to provide affordable housing for those in need. Items include but are not limited to:

  • Creating a City Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program that would encourage developers to build multifamily and affordable housing in exchange for a partial property tax relief for a partial property tax relief for 12 or 20 years. This is estimated to be voted on sometime in Q3 2021.
  • Begin the work on adopting the Cottage Housing Ordinance that we already have a draft of on file.
  • Adopt more inclusionary zoning.
  • Identify sites and suitable projects for scattered site housing development.
  • Advertise that C.O.B.I. is looking for partners in the affordable housing space.

This is in no way a complete list of what can be done at the City level but I believe it is a reasonable list based on where we are and where we need to go. In closing, I want a housing action plan with a team to carry it out and a Council that supports the work.

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SOUTH WARD, DISTRICT 3

Jon Quitslund

While I wasn’t born on Bainbridge, I owe my education from 1st grade through high school to the Bainbridge Island school system, beginning in 1945.  My father, Ford Quitslund, was born here, went east after graduating from college, and returned after the end of WW II, so that his wife and growing family would love Bainbridge as much as he did.  His wishes eventually came true, but as I grew up, like my father I knew how small this island really is, and I needed to get away.  I began my preparation for an academic career at Reed College, earned a Ph. D. in English Literature from Princeton University, and spent my teaching career (1964-2000) in Washington, D C.  After two sons were born in 1970 and ’73, my wife and I spent most of our summers on Bainbridge, so I never lost touch with Island life.  I retired as early as I could in order to rejoin my extended family here.  I have been active in local affairs for the last twenty years, getting acquainted with people, places, and Island institutions more broadly and deeply than ever before.  I started paying attention to local politics and some aspects of City business when I wrote a bi-weekly column for the Kitsap Sun newspaper, and for several more years, my occasional essays and commentaries appeared on the Sustainable Bainbridge website.  I’ve been especially interested in the parts of the Comprehensive Plan and the Municipal Code that pertain to environmental protections and the regulation of development.  I have worked closely with City staff in Planning and Community Development as a volunteer and an appointee.  Beginning in 2006 I was on Mayor Kordonowy’s 2025 Growth Advisory Committee: that experience served as my introduction to long range planning.  I liked that work very much, but I learned from the experience how even the best-laid plans can amount to nothing if the City Council is unwilling to implement them.  In the mid-2000’s I was also engaged, and again ultimately frustrated, among advocates for equitable and forward-looking policies in support of affordable housing. My most sustained and satisfying experience in these twenty years on Bainbridge Island has been nine years, just recently concluded, as a member of the Planning Commission.  Unlike the City Council, the Planning Commission is almost always a congenial and consensus-oriented team, bound together by fidelity to the aspirational goals of the Comprehensive Plan.  I have worked closely with Planning staff, and I’ve also played a decisive role in a few decisions that put the Planning Commission in conflict with the City administration.  I was deeply involved in the most recent update of the Comprehensive Plan and in much-needed revisions of the Municipal Code to implement Comp Plan goals and policies – work that remains incomplete.  I find that I can think like a long range planner, and that I’m attracted to what, in the lingo of Planning professionals, are called “wicked problems.”

At this time, I don’t have a campaign website; I use my personal Facebook page and a campaign email: [email protected] .

1. Why are you running for City Council?

 First of all, I’m in the race because Christy Carr isn’t running for a full term.  I want to carry forward, to the best of my ability, the initiatives that she has undertaken, especially the Housing Needs Assessment and the Housing Action Plan.  I worked collaboratively with Christy Carr when she was a Long Range Planner with COBI, especially on the Critical Areas Ordinance, portions of the Shoreline Management Program, and BIMC 17.12 (Subdivision Standards).

Second, I have my own life experience, analytical abilities, and a patient temperament that may contribute to success in working with others on the City Council, with other components of COBI, and among citizens interested in the betterment of our community.  It troubles me deeply that Bainbridge Islanders’ trust in their local government, and especially in their elected representatives on the City Council, is at a low point.  As a member of the Planning Commission, I was positively engaged with citizens and their concerns, and I tried to improve communication and collaboration with the Council.  I’m eager to continue that work.

2. What is the single biggest issue facing Bainbridge Island right now, and how do you propose we solve it?

 Housing can be understood as a single issue, and it is very big indeed.  It can be broken down into separable issues, each of which remains huge and complicated.  The most obvious part of the picture is the Housing Market, in which many members of the Chamber of Commerce have a stake.  You all know the outstanding facts about today’s market better than I do: sky-high prices and year after year price appreciation, with no end in sight; strong demand on the part of people with money to spend, and a very limited supply of both new and existing houses and apartments.  I know about this market from the sidelines, and I’ve read alarming statistics.  I have only begun talking with realtors; I need their perspectives.  I don’t know what to do or say about this market, except that it would be a mistake to regard the market itself as a problem to be solved, any more than our vibrant local culture and our situation in the middle of Puget Sound is a problem to be solved.

The biggest issue, as I see it, is that the housing market doesn’t meet the needs or serve the interests of our whole community.  We shouldn’t expect it to.  But over the years, market forces have driven changes in our community that are alarming.  COBI’s responses to all the workings of the housing market have been inept at best, and even counter-productive.  It’s understandable that in the general public and on the City Council, “development” in all its forms has been controversial, and the Growth Management Act’s requirement that we must plan for population growth has been resented and resisted.  But what’s understandable can also be deeply unfortunate.  The consequence of our inaction and lack of foresight is, I believe, that what I’ve called “our whole community” is less coherent, less dynamic, less generous, less inclusive and equitable than we think we are.

The demographic facts of life on Bainbridge Island are not good, and not getting better.  Almost all members of the Chamber of Commerce are younger than I am, but we’re all getting older.  In a breakdown of the Island’s population by age, the cadre over 65 is the only one increasing its share.  The median household income for Bainbridge residents has been increasing for years, so the structural problems that trouble our nation today – income inequality, and inequality of opportunities – are obvious in who lives here, who struggles to make ends meet, and who can’t find a place to live.

The personalities and perspectives of individuals who identify as minorities may be more evident and influential here on Bainbridge than they were a few years ago, but how much difference will that make?  In all of the municipalities around us on both sides of Puget Sound, minority populations are increasing, but here?  Not so much.  Bainbridge Island has been and remains overwhelmingly a white community – tolerant for the most part, but still nervously alert to racial, ethnic, and cultural differences.  Our public policies and pervasive cultural values have not been exclusionary, but somehow, de facto, they have created an exclusive community.  If we’re not careful – and if we’re not pro-active – we will only become more exclusive, and culturally more isolated from life in the world around us, while at the same time increasing amounts of work here will be done by people who must live somewhere else.

“Equity” is a linchpin concept in the Planning profession today, and it is being emphasized regionally, by the Puget Sound Regional Council, and at the county level in the Kitsap County Coordinating Council, specifically in planning for transportation and housing.  Somewhat awkwardly, the City Council has embraced “race equity,” but the concept hasn’t yet come into play in policy making on either housing or transportation.  In housing, “equitable” and “affordable” are linked terms; connecting them calls for thoughtful discussion.  At this point, there’s no consensus around what “affordable housing” is, and why we need more of it.  Housing policy, like several other issues we face here today, is a “wicked problem” that can’t be solved, but I’m confident that it can be addressed with some measure of success.  Let’s begin talking about what can be done.

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Kent Scott

Bio  

Kent is a Western Washington native and an island resident who for over three decades has shepherded a small farm on Old Mill Road, raised a family, and ran to the boat for the daily commute. He has been involved in Island issues including public art, open space, design guidelines, non-motorized safety, affordable housing, and natural system stewardship. His background in planning and design throughout the US and Asia has focussed on public process and participation, urban design, housing as well as environmental protection and education. Kent is committed to preserving and enhancing the quality of life on Bainbridge.

Email: [email protected]

1. Why are you running for office?

Kent believes in ‘A Better Bainbridge’ – a community that maintains the qualities that express why we have all chosen to live with the ferry, with needing to travel off island for many goods (although we should shop exclusively on Island), and the many tourists. We accept these travails but revel in the rural character, the schools, and the smaller and open community.

In my 33 years on THE Island a lot has changed. Safeway was not here – there was an IGA. Bainbridge Gardens was along 305/High School Road, PSE had an office on Winslow Way and while Mora has been around for awhile – there was another ice cream shop where BIMA now stands.

The population has also changed – there are more developments and more shopping for non-residents. With the exception of one summer when WSF ran three ferries with no schedule – the ferry has not changed although we did get new boats twenty years ago.

The refrain ‘don’t change the Island’ is often heard. Well, there has been nothing but change in my years on the Island.  A question is whether change has supported the vision for the Island set out in the City of Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan – or not. A second question is whether the trajectory of change, which cannot be stopped, can be aligned with the Comp Plan and the community’s vision.

The most pressing issues on the Island are broad, linked, and complex. The challenges we face to make the Island better require wise and deliberate acknowledgements and discussions. Groundwater protection, environmental stewardship, equity including affordable housing, public safety, climate change, fiscal responsibility, and wise policing must be considered in concert.    Land use policies and infrastructure choices will affect fire danger, growth patterns, traffic, and the natural environment.

So, Kent is running on all cylinders – knowing and acknowledging that there is a community vision and there are issues that need to be addressed as part of a whoe, wisely, for the benefit of those who live here now and future residents.

Kent supports and will work to ensure a stronger and safer quality of life, of a healthy environment, of equity for all citizens – the young, the old, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged, that our choices on climate change and development are sensible and will make a difference, and finally I will ensure that Bainbridge is welcoming and was the right choice as a community to live, to raise a family, to grow old.

2. What is the single biggest issue facing Bainbridge Island right now, and how do you propose we solve it?

The most significant issue is policy involving future development to maintain and ensure the quality of life and rural character Islanders desire.

The Safeway complex and Virginia Mason (Visconi) are no different than most shopping malls and do not express a unique Island character. Many housing developments are similar – undifferentiated from other suburban communities. Winslow is now anchored only by the Town and Country. Lynnwood Center, envisioned as a ‘neighborhood center’ to provide services for the surrounding community is now an all Island and off Island destination. The specter of appropriate change to Island Center and Rolling Bay is in the balance.

In the mix are property rights, sustainable design, climate change, groundwater, and the cost of housing, along with protecting quality of life. This is a fine needle to thread and requires the broadest perspective and public input for success.

Would Islanders consider more development in Winslow – perhaps in the Ferry District or around Safeway, to support sustainable transit oriented development rather than larger developments at Island Center and Rolling Bay.

How does the Island ensure public safety on the roads for walkers, runners, and cyclists. How important is cost and likely use.  Should vehicle speeds be lowered and/or more diligently enforced.

How important is groundwater protection now and in the future. With a 40% projected reduction is surface water infiltration by 2050 – trees and all natural systems will be at risk for loss and fire.

How does the City fulfill its promise to provide for citizens when too often policies, proposals, projects, etc. reach for exceptional outcomes rather than common sense, financially sound outcomes.

These questions and the issue of growth and change lead to the pressing need of wise development policies that support the Comprehensive Plan and that must be enshrined in our land use codes. The proposed hotel in Winslow – six times larger than code was allowed by inconsistencies in land use codes and the Comp Plan.

The one issue is development. We must ensure the quality of life through wise development, wise stewardship, and wise governing.