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Profiles: Poulsbo City Council No. 7 candidates Melody Eisler, Jim Henry
POULSBO — Three seats on Poulsbo’s City Council are on the Nov. 5 ballot, however, only one is contested.
Melody Sky Eisler is running for Position 7, held by Jim Henry, who is running for reelection.
Both candidates bear a fervor for Poulsbo, but come at the city from entirely different angles. The 2012 campaign season in Poulsbo is certain to pit an experienced “known quantity” against a spirited fresh perspective.
Melody Sky Eisler
Eisler emerged onto the local scene in 2011 when she took over as manager of the Silverdale branch of the Kitsap Regional Library.
She has a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington, and a bachelor of fine arts. She previously served as public arts manager for the arts commission of Boise, Idaho, where she was also a librarian.
More recently, she graduated as part of the Leadership Kitsap Class of 2013, a course aimed at “emerging leaders in business, government and the community to expand their skills in and commitment to voluntary civic responsibility,” according to its website. With Leadership Kitsap, she worked on a team tackling a civic project.
“My team worked on the waterfront for the city of Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton to add public art enhancements,” Eisler said. “It includes a reflexology path and a beautiful bench. It’s featured in all their tourist information.”
She was honored as one of Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty in 2012 for her work with community building in her position at the library, involvement with Leadership Kitsap and work on the Kitsap County Arts Board.
Eisler is drawn by Poulsbo’s sense of community, and it is there she wishes to make a difference, particularly on the City Council.
“When I first lived here I had to pinch myself, it’s so beautiful here,” Eisler said.
“When I moved here people told me that Poulsbo was the perfect city for me and they were right,” she said. “And I moved into the Viking Avenue neighborhood.”
The issue of Viking Avenue and its economic recovery dominates conversations with Eisler. She has made it a goal.
“One of my passions is the revitalization of Viking Avenue. It’s a really critical part of our city,” she said. “The downtown is flourishing, but since I’ve lived off of Viking Avenue I’ve seen it struggling.
“It’s so important in leadership positions to listen (to people). Viking Avenue comes up a lot.”
Eisler would seek state and federal grants to help the aesthetics of Viking Avenue, but chiefly, she would listen to the business community.
“Change is only effective if you have people’s buy in and you are working as a team,” Eisler said. “What we really need to do is listen to the business leaders.”
Eisler would also like to strengthen relationships with other local jurisdictions, such as the Port of Poulsbo.
Aside from the issues, Eisler is selling herself — a young, fresh perspective for Poulsbo. She believes those qualities would benefit the City Council’s essential functions such as setting a budget, and planning for a “strategic future that keeps the wonderful charm of the community but also plans for smart growth.”
“It’s so important to get new generations of leaders in local government, especially while we have the leaders we’ve had in place, she said. “It’s succession planning. It’s the same thing with any profession — you don’t want people to retire before they can share their wealth of knowledge.”
“I hope I get the honor of serve the city of Poulsbo. I’ll bring a fresh vision, dedication, passion, optimism and my ability to make things happen.”
Henry has called Poulsbo “home” for more than 31 years, and has spent much of that time working locally and being involved in the local government.
“Poulsbo, in its early years, was a big- hearted place,” Henry said. “We would do things to help people. The desire hasn’t changed, but the ability to do it and pay for it has gone away.”
He retired from the U.S. Navy in Poulsbo in 1985 and has kept busy ever since. He worked locally as an engineer and earned a degree at Olympic College.
Henry spent nine years on the city’s Planning Commission before an appointment to City Council Position 3 in 2000. He won the election to complete the two years remaining in the term in 2001, was elected to a full term in 2003, but was defeated in 2007 by Becky Erickson, who is now mayor. He returned to the council in 2009, defeating Kim Crowder for the Position 7 seat.
Even while on the council, Henry picks up a few hours each week working at Poulsbo’s Walmart, chatting with local customers.
Henry points around the city and speaks to a variety of issues he would like to weigh in on.
“We are woefully behind on neighborhood streets,” he said. “Before the recession we had put money aside, but we ate all that up. The problem is still there. My big thing now is to try to work on that problem. It’s a funding problem and streets are expensive. We have streets that haven’t been touched since they were built. And we can’t go on like that.”
Liberty Bay is another topic he talks about.
“There still is a problem with storm water going into there, and we are going to clean that up,” Henry said. “We got to get that stormwater and route it around to collectors so it can be cleaned. That means sewer capacity. We have to increase that.”
“Eventually we will need a project to increase the capacity of our drainage system,” he added. “Either by (the existing) line or bypass it.”
And then there’s Viking Avenue.
“The thing that makes me ‘me’ is my concern for business,” he said. “I am a pro business guy. This is where your money and jobs come from. When they make money, the city gets money.”
Henry said that he would like to see the west side of Liberty Bay become a reflection of Poulsbo’s downtown. He would like to seek out businesses, such as call centers, to replace the lost businesses on Viking Avenue.
“If you get one in, the others will follow,” he said.
One business he doesn’t want to see on Viking Way are the emerging marijuana retailers, a recent issue at City Council meetings. Henry — while understanding of the separate medicinal uses of the drug — is firm on isolating the retailers at the north end of the city in a light industrial area.
But beyond any issues, Henry said he should earn voters’ approval because he is one of them.
“I’m a known quantity. They know how I think,” he said. “I’ve never changed. I’ve been supported by the businesses in the city. I’ve raised my family here, everything I own is here. I’m going to look out for them just like I’m going to look out for myself. I don’t have any social agendas.”
He added, “If (voters) feel comfortable with how their city is now, or see it improving, then they should vote for me. If not, then vote your conscience.”
Poulsbo City Council members are elected to four-year terms and receive $6,000 a year.
According to the City Council’s legislative mission statement on www.cityofpoulsbo.com:
The City Council “endeavors to balance residents’ concerns and opinions with the law. The Council establishes the priorities of the City along with setting policies and a budget to allow the Mayor and Department Heads to run day-to-day business effectively and efficiently.”