City council, mayor candidates speak up

POULSBO — Additional chairs were brought into the meeting room at the Valborg Oyen Library Thursday night to accommodate the 30 or so people interested in this city’s Democratic process. But even with nearly every seat filled and candidates seeking election or re-election for council and mayor slots in just three weeks, the mood was surprisingly relaxed.

Some thanks could easily be credited to the laid-back format of the League of Women Voters and some could go to the jovial nature of the incumbents and challengers.

Uncontested incumbent Ed Stern got the forum off on the right foot, chiding the audience’s that their interest had less to do with Democracy and more to do with the fact that they “couldn’t stand to watch the top of the fifth (inning in the Mariners/Yankees game).”

After their opening remarks, each incumbent and their challenger was asked a series of questions before making their closing statements.

Kathryn Quade, who is running for pos. 7, served on the council from 1992-94 and said, “The problems I dealt with then are the problems you’re dealing with today — it’s time to move on.”

Quade said she would be an “independent voice” and would tackle issues such as Highway 305 noise and Olympic College while pushing for more public hearings and maintaining Poulsbo’s unique character.

“I will dedicate myself to you,” pos. 7 incumbent Connie Lord promised, noting that her 15 years in Poulsbo have given her insight as to what the city residents want. Lord said she planned on making much-needed policy changes, and would focus on urban growth and stormwater concerns if re-elected.

In pos. 6 incumbent Dale Rudolph, a resident of the city for 40 years and a councilman for the past eight, talked about Poulsbo’s infrastructure and how misinformation was being spread by his challenger, Larry Craig, councilwoman Lord and mayoral challenger Mike Regis.

“I want to right that wrong information,” Rudolph said, noting that the plans in question regarding streets, sewer and stormwater had gone through an extensive review process over the past few years.

Craig said his 30 years as an architect qualified him for the pos. 6 seat on council.

“I’ve had 30 years (experience) solving complex problems and bringing people together,” he remarked, adding that he represented the segment of Poulsbo that has resided here for less than five years.

In council position 3, Donene Munroe pointed out that she has a vested interest in the community. A graduate of North Kitsap High School, Munroe has owned a Poulsbo business for 27 years.

“I believe in representative government in which the citizens are stockholders,” she said. A balanced view and different perspective were things Munroe promised to bring to the council table.

The pos. 3 incumbent and self-described “rookie” on the council Jim Henry pointed to his nine years of experience on the city planning commission and explained that he was simply “one-seventh of an entity.”

“I don’t know everything it takes to run a city,” said Henry, who said his position has taught him to work as a teammate with his fellow council members. “I do know who to go to when I have a question.”

During the question and answer portion, Lord said an alternative route to State Route 305 via a bypass would be very expensive and that the city would have to work with the state while Quade said she felt Poulsbo may want to consider light-rail options to ease congestion.

Both Craig and Rudolph agreed that traffic through the city was becoming a problem, but the incumbent said it was also important to take commuters out of the pattern via buses while exploring new parking options downtown.

A private ferry system for Poulsbo, Munroe said, could be a problem in terms of parking and cost but Henry (who has advocated a return of the Mosquito Fleet) said he felt it was a “terrific idea.” As far as parking and funding, he said the issues were difficult, but could be solved.

After council candidates made their closing remarks, Mayor Donna Jean Bruce and challenger councilman Mike Regis took the hot seats, answering questions from the audience.

Mayor Bruce said she wanted to continue to make Poulsbo a “great place to live” and thanked her “exceptional staff and council” for helping maintain the city’s small town character.

“I really like being your mayor and want to continue to do that,” Bruce remarked, noting that she has been a resident here for pretty much her entire life. “I always expect the best because Poulsbo deserves the best.”

Regis said his administration would be much more future-minded and goal oriented, looking down the road 10 years to ensure the city’s infrastructure was up to par in terms of growth and progress.

“Poulsbo is my home and I consider Poulsbo my family,” he added.

Both mayoral candidates shared similar visions of what it means to be a full-time mayor, noting that the needs of the community always came first. The two also concurred that water quality in Liberty Bay should be enhanced but while Bruce pointed to efforts to improve stormwater outfalls and efforts of the Lemolo Citizens Club, Regis said the city should return to standards set in the Liberty Bay/Miller Bay watershed report.

The candidates were also at ends over whether or not the city’s water and sewer infrastructure was heading in the right direction, with Mayor Bruce citing a good comprehensive sewer plan and a stormwater plan that “needs another look” and Regis stating that the entire system is deteriorating and the state was ultimately pushing Poulsbo to improve its methods.

While councilman Regis said he supported combining the city planning and engineering departments under one official, Mayor Bruce said she felt the current set up was proven and solid. Bruce also pointed out that a past test to combine public works and planning under one department head didn’t worK.

The two shared a similar stand point on putting First Western developers’ feet to the fire in terms of preparing Olhava for construction of Olympic College, stating that the city had to remain partners with both entities and remain patient with the process.

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