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Eisler and Henry talk over issues at voters’ forum | City Council, Position 7
POULSBO — City Council candidates Melody Sky Eisler and Jim Henry tackled the public’s questions Oct. 7, attempting to set themselves apart from each other.
The League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum over the evening, providing the voting public an opportunity to get at the heart of issues with candidates for Poulsbo City Council.
Of particular interest were Eisler, a librarian, and incumbent Henry, who are running for Position 7. Eisler and Henry weren't alone in the forum held in Poulsbo's council chambers, however. Mayor Becky Erickson and Councilman David Musgrove were present, though both are running unopposed.
What made you interested in running for office?
Eisler: I'm a passionate community builder and I want to give back to my city. Leadership Kitsap was a huge impetuous for that because I felt like that it really gave me the knowledge about our county and our city to be able to finally fulfill a life-long dream of giving back to my community as a public servant, and helped me realize the dream of giving back to my community by running as a public servant. I consider this a "public servant" not a "politician," because you will do what is right for the city. And that is what I will do, not what is right for me or my own beliefs, but what the public wants.
Henry: This was not a choice of mine. My colleagues on the planning commission and my fellow citizens are the ones who talked me into running. I had something they wanted in (on the council). Once there, realizing that you are one of seven and nothing you want to do on your own will happen unless you work with other people, you learn how to work with people. You go in there and you become a part of the council as a whole, you learn how to do it, get along, and you get things done.
What vision do you have to encourage Poulsbo youth to be involved in local government?
Eisler: One of the first things I did when I came on to the Silverdale library was create a program for open access to government by inviting Commissioner (Josh) Brown to hold monthly open office hours which had not been done before in Central Kitsap. I'd like to extend that program to children. I've seen so many children and their parents come to meet with Commissioner Brown and talk with him about issues. I'd love to see more programs like that.
Henry: Years ago, North Kitsap High School had a mentor program and several members of the city council, including myself, would go and take over certain classes to encourage them to talk to us with their ideas, give them ideas, and invite them to come down and join us. I think this was successful because I see some of them grown with their own children and we still talk about it. Children won't say anything to you unless you ask them a question and invite their input.
During this time of declining revenues what are the areas that you feel we would be saving money on, increasing revenue with, or how else cold we preserve the money we receive?
Henry: Taxes provide a larger part of our revenue, and you must encourage business. Government doesn't create jobs, businesses do. You go out and find who needs help, keep the onerous taxes off them — you'll notice Poulsbo doesn't have a B&O tax — and encourage them to expand. This will bring in, and has always brought in, more revenue. You can't tax your way into prosperity. It hasn't happened yet and this country has tried.
Eisler: What I would encourage for economic development in this city are things like a nighttime economy…because 60 to 70 percent of business is done after 5 p.m. So how do we attract and retain people to our city after they've been working all the day? Part of that is encouraging businesses to stay open later.
What is your plan to revitalize Viking Avenue?
Eisler: This is my neighborhood so I am very passionate about it. It doesn't take one person, it takes a team working together with community members and business leaders to do meaningful revitalization. I think the mix of businesses is really important; more restaurants, more walkable businesses that attract people to that area. I think a business improvement association is an interesting idea, which is the mayor and city council's vision as well. Bring the business leaders together to work on this.
Henry: Viking Avenue was a problem when it was full. It is different than the rest of the city, but yet there is a potential there that is unbelievable. You have to make an atmosphere so people will want to come. You can't spend public money there, you have to get someone to bring it in and the way you this make the atmosphere conducive to business, because business is what brings in money. Not just grants, you got to have something in there to sustain and grow.