Election season is here and as always, the stakes are high for the citizens. University Place has a majority of the City Council positions up for election this year. As I walk the trails, the neighborhoods and our businesses, what I hear from the people is we must have change in UP. I agree. But not all of the choices running for City Council really offer positive change, and a change of the composition of the current Council, while retaining some of the current members does offer the prospect of POSITIVE change for our City.
Our Council has accomplished many positive things for our City over the last 14 years. But they have been together as a block with only one or two dissenting votes attempting to stop such foolish actions as evicting businesses and destroying the climate of business that supported our City. The action of making the City government one of the largest commercial landowners in the City has led to a huge debt load on the City taxpayers and hindered business activity for over 5 years on the Town Center project and produced no revenue during those five years.
Most of the things that have ultimately gone wrong in our City are a product of the Council placing blind trust in City Staff and failing to insure that all sides of an issue are presented. One voice that always asked that question was Councilmember Lorna Smith. Unfortunately, she was usually overruled by a trusting majority of the council that blindly accepted the words and reports from City staff. That is how we got the debacle that is Town Center (now referred to as Market Square…to deflect attention?). Lorna is a keeper, and is an insider that knows the ins and outs of City government and will hold the staff accountable. Ken Grassi is the other incumbent that deserves re-election. He is the world’s nicest guy and an accomplished businessman that knows our City and brings people together.
The new candidates for office include some people who are and have been participants in the City government process and have a broad and effective record in public process in our City. Two who deserve your trust and vote are Denise McCluskey and Dan Carnrite. Both have been involved on high-level commissions in the City and have been participants in our City government for many years. They understand that government should be a PUBLIC process and input from the PUBLIC is essential to achieving the best possible outcome. They are and have been advocates for open government, strong fiscal responsibility with your tax dollars. They are also advocates for following the law, codes and standards that have been arrived at through an appropriate PUBLIC process. Wouldn’t it be nice if our council made minimum use of Executive session where the public is excluded from the deliberations instead of maximum use as is done now?
We have a great City in UP, and the fine work of a Council that has had a vision for 14 years is a large part of the reason. But keeping the voices of fiscal responsibility and healthy mistrust of one-sided information will maintain that vision while moving our City in a positive direction that will not burden the taxpayers. Lorna Smith, Ken Grassi, Denise McCluskey and Dan Carnrite can take us to that future.