The Ballot Questions:
Our Recommendations for Voters

The Ballot Questions:
Our Recommendations for Voters

i Oct 29th No Comments by

After checking in with our island’s own Senator Christine Rolfes, and gathering background information from the Progressive Voters Guide  for our state, here’s our Quality Bainbridge Steering Committee consensus on the Bainbridge Island voter ballot questions. Progressive Voters Guide is hosted by about two dozen groups, from Cascade Bicycle Club to the Council of Firefighters, and from the Sierra Club to Planned Parenthood, and more.

thumbsdown-orangeInitiative Measure 517
Vote NO on Tim Eyman’s Latest Self-Serving Initiative.

Bainbridge Island voters have been smart enough to vote against many of Tim Eyman’s initiatives in the past – like the one in 2001 that (because it prevailed statewide) resulted in vastly reducing the annual amount of State funds coming to our City for road maintenance (and therefore contributing to the decline in the condition of island roads). That 2001 Eyman initiative also reduced the funds available  for Washington State Ferries, resulting in fares increasing 80% in ensuing years.

The Progressive Voter Guide says:

“Initiative 517 is Tim Eyman’s most self-serving initiative yet. Eyman, the sponsor of over a dozen misguided and unconstitutional initiatives, wrote I-517 to make signature gathering easier and more profitable. I-517 would prevent business owners from being able to stop aggressive petitioners from blocking or harassing customers, and it would allow out-of-state petitioners to solicit signatures inside public buildings, including libraries and sports stadiums year round.”

“I-517 has broad progressive opposition, but the coalition also includes retailers like Metropolitan Markets and sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC. Many Republicans, including past Secretary of State Sam Reed, have joined progressives in urging a “no” vote.”

thumbsup-blueInitiative Measure 522
Vote YES for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

Our favorite foods are grown locally – on Bainbridge or nearby – and grown naturally (ideally organically) without GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Yes! Magazine, published here on Bainbridge Island, has an excellent article on this GMO labeling measure.

And we’re offended at the big expensive glossy advertising we’ve been receiving here on Bainbridge telling us to vote NO. The greyed-out small print on the last page discloses (as State law requires) that the five biggest contributors to that glossy include Monsanto and the like. Monsanto has a very special interest in this vote because they make billions of dollars on GMO seeds and foods around the world.  It’s reported that Monsanto is spending $4.5 million to stop this GMO labeling measure in our State, and other special interests have added their money.

Here’s what the Progressive Voters Guide says about this measure:

“Initiative 522 would give Washington shoppers more information about what’s in our food and more control over shopping decisions. The initiative would require all genetically engineered foods to include a note on the label. American companies are already required to label genetically engineered food in 64 other countries. If passed, Washington would be ahead of the curve in the U.S. to give consumers the right to know, though we expect other states will be close behind.”

“The No on 522 campaign is funded by big chemical and pesticide corporations, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical. It has also received more than $7 million from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a DC-based lobbying firm representing big junk food companies. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sued the Grocery Manufacturers for concealing campaign donations to No on 522.”

Endorsements and Supporters include: Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Fuse Washington, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Washington State Council of Firefighters, Washington Toxics Coalition, WashPIRG, United Farm Workers, Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets.

thumbsup-blueAdvisory Votes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Vote “MAINTAINED” On All Five

Thanks to a Tim Eyman initiative, the state legislature is required to submit to a non-binding advisory vote any bill it passes that closes tax loopholes or raises revenues. When you read the advisory ballot wording, it seems that heavily biased ballot language is also required.

These votes are about closing special-interest tax loopholes in order to provide more adequate funding for our public schools. We recommend that the Legislature’s actions closing those special-interest tax loopholes be “Maintained” because that creates some revenue to more adequately fund public education.

Our State’s Constitution makes adequate funding of public education a prime mandate. Recently, a state court has found state funding to be inadequate under that Constitutional standards, and has ordered the legislature to take action for public education funding consistent with that mandate.  So, a vote to “maintain” the legislature’s elimination of special interest tax loopholes will show our support for our state’s public schools, and will help to fund our Bainbridge Island public schools.

Why I’m Voting for Val, Wayne and Roger
A Guest Letter from Bruce Weiland

i Oct 29th No Comments by

Bruce WeilandIn the decades since Bainbridge Island voted for an all-island government, we have had some fantastic City Council members, and we owe them our thanks for their service.

But for the last several years, more and more of the conversation at City Hall has been dominated by a number of highly partisan folks — both on and off the Council. This has (sadly) led to some vehement polarization in our once-cohesive community.

This fall’s election offers some clear choices for each of the three Council positions on the ballot. We get to vote for three, and I ask you to join with me and vote for…




Each of them understands that effective leadership in a small town setting requires COLLABORATION, CONSENSUS, COMPROMISE and CIVILITY.

Good city governance is not about winning every issue, or vilifying and beating your opponents. It should be about respectfully working together to solve problems, with everyone giving a little so they can meet in the middle.

Please join me and VOTE for these three smart and collaborative good-government candidates. The last thing we need is more aggressive polarization at City Hall.

If you agree with me, please copy and paste the words of this op-ed into an email and send it to five or ten (20?) of your friends. Let’s blanket the island with an appeal for reason and responsibility (for a change).

Thanks for listening.


Bruce P. Weiland

The Waypoint 400pBruce Weiland is a long-time resident, and a professional with offices in the Winslow business community, who believes in public service. In prior years, he has been elected to the School Board, became its President, and was committed to openness and dialog among board members and with parents and community members. More recently, he devoted many volunteer hours helping coordinate the community project that produced the Waypoint corner park across the street from the new Art Museum – funded by donations and at no cost to taxpayers.  The Waypoint – pictured at right – is a great example of what happens in our community when we collaborate together.  -QB

Did You Know?
Basic Facts About the City’s SSWM Utility

i Oct 25th No Comments by

Trying to Win by Making the City Sound Like a Loser

This year’s City Council election campaigns have been characterized by sharp criticisms of the City and its staff, especially by Gary Tripp — a long-time agitator against our city government — and one of the candidates endorsed by Mr. Tripp’s PAC, Dick Haugan.

There is unprecedented PAC and candidate money in this year’s election. Mr. Haugan now holds the all-time record for the number of dollars in a Bainbridge City Council campaign.  As a result, a lot of advertising text has been devoted to alleging that the City is badly broken, financially unsustainable and riddled with fundamental problems. In the ads, however, the evidence for that point of view blurs facts and often draws on anecdotes from many years ago, prior to our island’s successful ballot measure in which an overwhelming majority of citizens voted to create the new Council / City Manager form of government that now serves us.

In one of his first big ads, Mr. Haugan targeted the set of City services dedicated to managing our island’s stormwater, street run-off, and surface waters (SSWM).

What are the Facts?

In addition to our Winslow water and sewer utilities, our City also operates an island-wide Surface and Storm Water Management utility (SSWM).

Virtually all Washington cities have SSWM utilities.  They perform work that is dictated by demanding federal regulatory requirements that cities are legally required to perform to protect our environment – under the rules of the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which helps to implement the federal Clean Water Act.

In addition to our water and sewer utilities, Bainbridge Island also has a Surface and Storm Water Management utility (SSWM). Virtually all Washington cities have SSWM utilities.  They perform work that is dictated by demanding federal regulatory requirements that cities are legally required to perform to protect our environment – under the rules of the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which helps to implement the federal Clean Water Act.

SSWM is about keeping our water as clean as possible. It involves both capital improvements and day-to-day operational responsibilities.

During the past several years, with the worst recession in decades, spending on SSWM and other capital improvements has been reduced.  This was the result of decisions by the City Council to cut back on capital projects in order to balance budgets and stay frugal.

City staff carries out operational responsibilities for storm water, so it should be no surprise that about 45% of its operating budget is compensation for City staff who perform these services.  They monitor pollutants, investigate discharges of hazardous substances, and conduct clean-up operations.

Clearing the Drainage Ditches:
The Costs of Being a Low-Density and Rural City

Much of staff time is devoted to cleaning out culverts and removing vegetation and obstructions from roadside ditches that drain our 140 miles of public paved roads.

Why?  One major factor is our low density – our island, and its roads, are spread out.  Geographically speaking, our island is one of the least dense Washington cities. We have many more miles of maintainable rural road drainage infrastructure per household than most other Washington cities.  Other cities we like to compare ourselves to — like Mercer Island — have less than half as many miles of maintainable road per person as Bainbridge.

In terms of the cost of this city activity, for most of us, the City performs this important island-wide clean-water function for about $13 per month, which is the SSWM fee for the owner of a single-family dwelling.

In the City’s published 2013 budget for the SSWM fund (see page 101 of the attached pdf file), the total professional services cost (consultants and all other forms of professional services, including stream monitoring, pollution monitoring, lab testing, etc.) is only $248,000 (less than 10% of annual SSWM budgeted expenses for 2013).

In the past years, cost controls achieved by the City have meant that the SSWM fees to each Bainbridge property owner were actually REDUCED by 7.5% from budget year 2010 to 2011, and the SSWM fee rate remained flat in 2012 from 2011.

Critics of the current SSWM offer little insight, vision or direction for stormwater management. They just say we’re spending too much and it’s the fault of staff and having too many staff members devoting some of their time to the work of drainage and managing surface water.

The Winslow Way Reconstruction:
A Preview of a Smart Way to Manage Street Runoff

Some critics of the Shoreline Management Program (SMP) are suggesting we stop the practice of carrying road runoff waters through tight lines to the Sound, and instead conduct those waters to rain gardens or retaining ponds for slow filtration and gradual seepage of filtered water to the sea. The tough question is: where would they propose to get the tens of millions of dollars to revamp the road runoff infrastructure of our 30 square mile island?

Critics fail to note that the City did in fact rebuild Winslow Way in 2010 with rain gardens.  These were smart, timely, significant capital improvements to ensure that polluted water running off our busy main street is filtered and cleansed by rain gardens before it is collected and carried to our harbor. That’s vision….

Furthermore, that was a project completed with zero Bainbridge taxpayer dollars. It was carried out with a combination of federal and state highway grant funds, $1,000,000 of donations by downtown Winslow Way commercial property owners, and lesser amounts from the water and sewer utilities that had the broken mains, and the obsolete asbestos-concrete pipes, that had necessitated the Winslow Way reconstruction in the first place.

Responses to Quality Bainbridge Questions
From Dale Perry

i Oct 18th No Comments by

Dale Perry, Candidate for School Board

Quality Bainbridge sent three questions to each of the candidates for School Board. Dale (and his opponent Mike Spence) promptly responded.

Dale’s responses follow:

Question 1: What is the proper role of the School Board in relation to the schools, the teaching staff, the school administrators and the district administration?  As examples: What criteria should be used in deciding what new programs should be added?  What as a Board member can you do to assist teachers so that there are realistic expectations for their work?

The School Board has one direct hire and that is the Superintendent.  Clear expectations should be set with the Superintendent with regard to expectations for student achievement for the immediate year and for future years.  These expectations should have clear metrics that allow for a productive evaluation process with the Superintendent, up to three times per year.  As an example, Bainbridge Island has one elementary school that is performing significantly below the other two elementary schools and this has been the case year after year.  As a board member, I would ensure that a clear metric with the Superintendent specifically addresses the performance of this school.

The question on criteria for new programs addresses the concept of innovation.  Over the past few years there has been much discussion about where innovation should originate, how it should be fostered and allowed to flourish.  Clearly innovation needs to come from within the classroom, as that is where the true ownership of any program will reside.  The challenge in the past has been that innovation has been allowed to occur randomly and without structure.  Contrary to what some will say, structure does not stifle innovation, it encourages innovation.  There has been confusion between the roles of the teachers, administration, district board and Bainbridge Schools Foundation on how this should be coordinated.  Over the past year, I played a fundamental role in clearing this confusion and, as a result, was asked to join the Bainbridge Schools Foundation board to move this forward.  I have proposed that the Bainbridge Schools Foundation fund an Office of Innovation within the district central office, much as they have done with the STEM coordinator position, whose role it would be to coordinate, communicate, and foster continued innovation.  Having started and developed several companies from the ground up, and several education programs as well, I feel I have a good understanding of how new programs should be developed.

One of the best ways I believe board members can assist teachers is to actively listen to the teachers and the administrators.  Over the past few months I have met with every principal and numerous teachers.  During this time, I have asked them to tell me their challenges, but more importantly, I have asked them to share with me the untapped opportunities they see.  I find this to be encouraging and enlightening.  There is a lot more we could be doing.

The specific tool for assisting teachers with their expectations will be with a successful roll-out of the statewide TPEP tool.

Question 2: What are the biggest operational challenges facing the School District in the coming years?

As we saw this past year with twenty to thirty new hires in our district, some of our best teachers are reaching retirement age.  While new buildings and technology are nice to have, it is our teachers who educate our children.  We need to be sure we are attracting the best teachers from across the country.  We should not be hiring teachers in the last week of August and we need a better method of forecasting student enrollment to minimize such last-minute hires.  I know that other school districts have specific enrollment forecasting systems and we need to borrow from their learnings.

Question 3: What should the School Board do in the next four years with respect to voter-approved operations levies and other strategies for dealing with budgetary challenges?

The district has several ongoing levies that must be passed, including the Technology Levy.  This will require good communication with the taxpayers as to why this is a good use of their precious tax dollars.  I believe this requires a clear explanation to the public of what was asked for, what was received, and what the outcomes were for the 2006 and 2010 tech levies.  A reputation of good use of resources leads to ongoing trust in future requests for resources.  I am hopeful that such a presentation can be made to the public.  The same holds true for future capital bond requests for the reconstruction of Blakely.  We will need to explain to the public what was expected from the Wilkes bond and what did we receive.  There is little disagreement that the state of Washington will not fully fund the education system.  For Bainbridge to continue to develop a strong school district requires continued coordination with the Bainbridge School Foundation.  I know that the Foundation has some very interesting goals and ideas and I hope that the school board can successfully work with them.

A retired teacher’s personal thoughts
About Mike Spence for School Board

i Oct 17th No Comments by

By Kathy Dunn
Steering Committee Member
Quality Bainbridge

Mike Spence is the School Board candidate that I am strongly supporting to be reelected.

Many may ask who is Kathy Dunn and does her endorsement carry any weight?

Well, I am a 4th generation Bainbridge Islander who attended Bainbridge public schools from kindergarten to graduation.   My children also did so, and in the fall of 2014 my granddaughter (a 6th generation Bainbridge Islander!!) will begin kindergarten on Bainbridge.

You may say: “that is all well and good but does Kathy have any hands on experience with the school district”?    I taught kindergarten on Bainbridge for over thirty years. So, I do know something about the District.  And I do know what makes an effective School Board member.

I wanted to form my own opinion about which candidate would best serve our schools so I attended both forums to hear what Mr. Spence and Mr. Perry had to say.

I was struck by many things.   My conclusion after listening to both was my whole-hearted support for Michael Spence.

He has been on the Board for 4 years and during that time he has saved local taxpayers an incredible amount of money — including about $12 million of reduced interest on school construction bonds.

He was on the Board for the building of the new Wilkes Elementary School (my old school), and that construction project came in on budget.

He has been part of a Board that has introduced innovative programs at the elementary and secondary school levels.  This is extremely important because children learn in many different ways; and the District is striving to meet these differences using sound, well-researched educational methods.

Lastly, I found Michael Spence to be very approachable and a good listener.  If I had a concern, I would not hesitate to contact him to express my thoughts.  He is passionate about education and passionate about Bainbridge public schools.

My sense is that he wants to make Bainbridge Island schools the best that they can be.

Our Shoreline Master Program Update:
Some Important Facts

i Oct 15th No Comments by

Guest Op-Ed By Maradel Gale, Elise Wright and Marcia Lagerloef

Here are some important facts about the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update, written by three community members who worked on the update.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE1. Bainbridge Island has recently submitted an updated Shoreline Master Program (SMP) to the Washington Department of Ecology for approval. This SMP was the result of over three years of intensive public input into the requirements of the SMP and review by large numbers of citizens of our community.

2. The SMP is required by Washington State law, having been mandated by a public initiative in 1972, sponsored by the people of the state, that became the Shoreline Management Act (SMA). The SMA is an environmental protection law, and the required SMPs are intended to help restore the viability of our Puget Sound. As such, the SMA addresses many of the causes of decline in the productivity of the Puget Sound. Some of these are discussed in the points that follow. The current update process by cities and counties is also required by law, and the key mandate is that future shoreline development result in “no net loss” of shoreline function.

3. Bainbridge Island sits in the middle of our Sound, containing 53 miles of shoreline. Much of this shoreline has already been developed, mostly with residential uses, and much of it is already armored (it has bulkheads, riprap or other non-natural structures along the shore). Residential use is a preferred use of developed state shoreline properties, and remains so through the update process.

4. Zoning was developed in this country in the 1920s as a means to protect land uses from other land uses. This method of control of land use was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1926 in Euclid v. Ambler Realty. Without zoning, each property owner would be able to do whatever s/he wanted with the land, which means that a residential neighborhood could suddenly find a bowling alley being built on land in the midst of the neighborhood. Zoning was adopted to protect property owners from incompatible uses.

5. When land is zoned under a comprehensive land use plan, some uses and some structures become “non-conforming.” This simply means that under the new law, these uses would not be allowed or some aspect of the structure would not be allowed, with many exceptions. Non-conformity has existed since the beginning of zoning. Once a use exists, or a structure is built, even if subsequent zoning laws make it non-conforming, it is allowed to remain as it is. When it is destroyed or the use is discontinued, the land owner is required to conform to the law in effect at the time of rebuilding. However, in our SMP, non-conforming structures destroyed by calamity – fire, landslide or earthquake, for example – may be rebuilt just as they were. This is an exemption not allowed in non-shoreline areas, where rebuilding for any reason must follow current zoning laws and building codes. Remodeling in any area must follow current building codes, but only for the area of the home actually being remodeled or added on.

6. There are two types of non-conformity: use and structure. As an example, if a pre-existing commercial use such as an auto repair shop is in an area zoned strictly for residential use, the auto repair shop may continue to function in its current form. However, if the property owner decides to change the type of use, and become a fish processing plant, such a change will not be allowed. At the time a change is proposed, the land must be used as designated in the current zoning, so only a residential use would be allowed upon closure of the auto repair shop.

7. In a structural example of non-conformity, a parcel of land may be too small to accommodate the required setbacks for front and side yards. However, the permit will allow a home to be built, since people have the right to have some economic value from their property. In this case, the structure is non-conforming because the home is built within the setback area. It should be noted that non-conformity of structure, since the structure can be rebuilt, does not negatively affect the value of the property. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true, inasmuch as an undeveloped property would not be able to build as close to the shoreline, for example. That gives added value to the existing home which enjoys a grandfathered benefit.  On Bainbridge, 35% of shoreline properties are non-conforming under the current SMP in effect since 1996.

shoreline scene8. Since most of the Bainbridge Island shoreline property is already developed for residential use, the effect of the SMP is largely limited to undeveloped property where future development would be required to meet the new standards of the SMP. Again, there are exceptions where the nature of the land does not allow the full incorporation of the zoning requirements, such as a lot that is encumbered by a wetland, for example.

9. In the case of an owner of an existing property who wishes to remodel, up to 50% of the home may be remodeled within the existing footprint, and the home may be expanded up to 25% landward into the buffer (one time only) with compensatory mitigation (typically this means adding native vegetation).

10. Where a homeowner proposes major changes on the property, such as the tear-down of the existing residence and replacement with a new house, the new SMP will govern such matters as the placement of the home in relation to the shoreline, type and amount of vegetation along the shoreline, and other non-shoreline zoning matters such as set-backs, height, etc.

11. Shoreline armoring (bulkhead, rip-rap, groins) changes significantly the features of the nearshore area, particularly the movement of sediments along the shoreline, and the provision of habitat for our salmonid species and their prey which depend on our nearshore area. For this reason, there are strong requirements related to future armoring of intact natural shoreline. This is a resource that is very valuable to the Puget Sound, and for that reason, any request for new armoring must meet high standards. There is a hierarchy of types of shoreline protection that are to be reviewed for ways to meet the need for armoring, so that the least destructive type is employed. Existing bulkheads may be rebuilt, repaired or replaced, and a geotechnical report may be required to demonstrate potential harm to the primary structure within 5 years. The state guidelines suggest this should be a three-year threshold for potential harm; our SMP is more liberal than the state recommends.

12. Our shorelines are an integral part of the overall Puget Sound environment, and a part of the particular ecosystem in which we live. For that reason, there are requirements for vegetation retention and planting within the first 30 feet of setback from the mean high tide line; these requirements will help keep the shoreline as protective of the wildlife species as possible. Native vegetation, the sorts of plants that occur naturally in our environment, are preferred for the benefits they provide the sea life. Trees along the shoreline provide shading, insects drop off of the trees and shrubs into the water and are an important food source for fish, and vegetation provides shoreline stabilization for the upland owner. The SMP does not require property owners to replant their yards with native vegetation until and unless there are changes made to the property which alter the existing situation. In those instances, a buffer zone of native vegetation can be required to be planted. An example would be to replace part of a lawn with small native plants such as salal and Oregon grape. Some trees may be removed in order to protect views.

13. Overwater structures create a number of issues along our shorelines. An area of bay covered by docks extending out into the water is less navigable for all water-borne users. The shading that occurs in strips covered by the docks is a hazard for juvenile salmonid species, as their eyes do not adjust to the changes in light they encounter passing under an area covered by docks, and they swim into deeper unshaded water where they are more vulnerable to predators. On the outer shores of our island, strong currents, shallow sloping shores and seasonal high winds create conditions that can be hazardous to docks. For that reason, docks are primarily limited to enclosed bays and inlets. Existing docks may be repaired and replaced, using best environmental technology (grating, no creosote pilings, etc.).

14.  If you have questions about the content of the SMP update that was submitted to the Department of Ecology, you can send them to  and here is a link where you can read the SMP update  in its entirety:

Maradel Gale has been working on shoreline management issues since 1969, first in Oregon and most recently on Bainbridge Island where she is a member of the Planning Commission and served as a liaison to the citizen workgroups and task force charged with drafting the SMP update. In December of 2012, she was unanimously re-appointed to the Planning Commission by the Bainbridge City Council.

Elise Wright first became involved in Island shoreline issues in 1975. Since then she has advocated for environmental protection for Blakely Harbor, for Critical Areas, and spent 3 years on the Citizens Workgroup on Buffers and Vegetation Management for the SMP update.

Marcia Lagerloef is an oceanographer and shoreline homeowner. She was a member of the Shoreline Modification Work Group that worked with city staff to develop the first draft of the SMP update. She also helped write the SMP that was adopted in 1996.

Endorsement Process:
School Board Candidates

i Oct 14th No Comments by

Quality Bainbridge decided in early October to consider making an endorsement in the one School Board district election that is contested. Two other district School Board positions have unopposed candidates.

The first step followed by Quality Bainbridge to evaluate the candidates in the District 2 contested race was to circulate questions for the candidates to respond to. The responses will be one factor in the endorsement decision. Other factors included: attending the candidate presentations hosted by the League of Women Voters, and reviewing other news and information about the candidates.

The District races and candidates are as follows:

District 2 (contested, for 4-year term):

Mike Spence (incumbent, and Board President) versus Dale Perry

District 3 (unopposed, 2-year unexpired term):

Mev Hoberg

District 5 (unopposed, 4-year term):

Sheila Jakubik

Quality Bainbridge sent the following questions to the candidates on October 13, and will post responses received from Mr. Spence and Mr. Perry.

Questions for School Board Candidates:

  1. What is the proper role of the School Board in relation to the schools, the teaching staff, the school administrators and the district administration? As examples:  (a) What criteria should be used in deciding what new programs should be added?  (b) What as a Board member can you do to assist teachers so that there are realistic expectations for their work?
  2. What are the biggest operational challenges facing the School District in the coming years?
  3. What should the School Board do in the next four years with respect to voter-approved operations levies and other strategies for dealing with budgetary challenges?

What Makes for a Good Council Member

i Oct 10th No Comments by

This post was originally published in the on 9/21/13 as background for looking at the role of the Council members,their tasks and the qualities that would best serve them in that role and therefore us as residents of the Island.

Quality Bainbridge Endorses
Roth, Tollefson and Townsend

i Oct 9th No Comments by

Press Release – Full Text – October 9, 2013 to Bainbridge Review, Kitsap Sun/Islander, and Bainbridge Notebook.

A new nonprofit is forming on Bainbridge Island this week, and it’s a response to an unprecedented local election. The nonprofit is called Quality Bainbridge, and its immediate goals are to:

  • advocate for good, smart, local government,
  • celebrate widely-shared Bainbridge values, and
  • endorse good candidates and alert the community to a threatening attempt to buy the election.

President John Ellis of Quality Bainbridge said: “Scores of islanders have been liking the island values we celebrated, as a small group of residents, on our Facebook page and website. Now, with our new nonprofit organization this week, we’re independently looking at the field of candidates for City Council this year to find advocates for those shared values. In the past couple of weeks we’ve become alarmed at what appears to be an unprecedented attempt by a PAC to buy the election and control the City Council for years.”

For education purposes, Quality Bainbridge circulated substantive questions to all six candidates for City Council.  Three responded: Wayne Roth, Val Tollefson and Roger Townsend. Their answers show that they stand for the kinds of values, and the kinds of civility and mutual-respect, that islanders want for their City Council.  No response was received from the other three.

Gloria Sayler, Vice President of the new nonprofit, said: “Quality Bainbridge is today enthusiastically endorsing Wayne Roth, Val Tollefson and Roger Townsend for City Council.  We’ve had an independent look at the candidates, and we found that each of those three have great qualifications and embrace the values that so many islanders share. And, frankly, we’re concerned about a big money PAC that is collecting unprecedented amounts of money to push their slate.”

Ellis points out that the Quality Bainbridge endorsement of Wayne Roth, Roger Townsend and Val Tollefson adds to their endorsements from the local chapter of the Sierra Club, the local organizations of Democrats, and scores of respected local residents of various political persuasions.

Reports at the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) show that Gary Tripp, a long-time email blaster with negative views of our City and our home rule island government, formed a PAC last month that, according to his public disclosures, has already raised about $21,000.

Ellis said, “That PAC money is far more than most candidates on our island have historically spent on their entire campaign. And one member of their slate has, in addition, already exceeded the most money ever assembled for a Council election, reporting nearly $23,000 to date on the PDC website. That PAC and its slate are substituting big-money PAC politics – close to $50,000 for the PAC and its 3-person slate — for the small-town person-to-person campaigns we’ve appreciated on Bainbridge Island in the past.”

The PDC reports show, for example, that just one donor to the Gary Tripp PAC has contributed almost as much as the largest amount of total contributions to any candidate in 2011 ($11,456 to then-candidate Steve Bonkowski). According to the PDC, Boyer Towing Inc. of Ketchikan, Alaska recently put $10,000 into the Gary Tripp PAC (formally known as “Common Sense Bainbridge”).

The only other named officer of that PAC on PDC filings is Glenn Avery.  The King County Republican Party website reports that Avery is the chairman of the 36th district Republican Party organization in Seattle.

Ellis said: “A big-money PAC with an off-island officer is a threat to the local values and culture that makes our island so special. On the one hand, we have three extraordinarily well-qualified candidates who embrace island values. On the other side is a PAC that is threatening to make Bainbridge as polarized as the other Washington — where extremists have shut down our government and its services to people and businesses who depend on it.”

This week marks a new step for Quality Bainbridge.  A month ago, Quality Bainbridge created a Facebook page and the website to simply express shared island values and advocate for good government. The community response has been positive. For example, last week, with no paid advertising, there were 400 visits to the Facebook page and dozens of likes. But recent disclosures of big money influence via the Gary Tripp PAC have led Quality Bainbridge this week to decide to start the process of registering as a political committee with the Public Disclosure Commission. That step allows QB to endorse three excellent candidates and alert the community to the disturbing Gary Tripp PAC influence behind the three opposing candidates.

Other members of the Quality Bainbridge Steering Committee, in addition to Ellis and Sayler, are Kathy Dunn, Maradel Gale, Juliet LeDorze, Barry Peters and Randal Samstag. All are local Bainbridge residents who want to preserve our island’s character and its shared values such as: a beautiful and conserved environment, safe neighborhoods and good schools for families, good and smart governance with local control, maintenance of our roads and other infrastructure, and a good quality of life for all residents.