Community council races draw too few candidates for election

Only nine Islanders have chosen to run for the nine seats on the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s executive board, forcing the citizen-run group to cancel this fall’s election.

The council’s executive board had decided earlier this fall to spike the election — and save the money it entails — if there weren’t enough contenders. With nine Islanders agreeing to run by last week’s deadline, the council’s executive board had no choice but to follow through on its commitment and call off the election, those involved in the process said.

“I’m disappointed. I was hoping to get enough for a real race,” said Lee Ockinga, who chairs the council’s nominating committee. “My lofty goal was 12 or 15 people, so we could have debates and candidate forums.”

The decision also means that Islanders won’t get a chance to weigh in on the location of the Vashon Library, an issue the council had decided to place on the ballot.

The King County Library System has signed a letter of intent to move the library to the proposed K2 Commons, should Islanders Dick Sontgerath and Truman O’Brien purchase the site and begin its redevelopment south of town later this year. Some residents, however, say they want the library to remain at Ober Park, where it’s within Vashon’s main commercial district and walking distance to apartment buildings housing elders and families.

Tom Bangasser, a businessman and one of the founders of Vashon College, had sought the ballot measure because of his frustration over the library system’s refusal to meet with Islanders and discuss its decision.

In light of the election’s cancellation, he said, he now plans to ask the community council to hold a town hall meeting on Oct. 23 to discuss the library’s location.

“I’m going to keep going on this thing because almost everybody I’ve talked to has said that moving the library is not in the best interest of the community,” Bangasser said.

Two weeks ago, he met with Bill Ptacek, the library system’s executive director, and attended the organization’s board meeting, where he said he told its five trustees that the community was concerned about a potential move.

“People are upset the KCLS has not really consulted with them,” he said.

The decision to cancel this fall’s election came after months of work by Islanders who tried to recruit potential candidates and craft the most strategic and thoughtful voting method.

“I am totally disappointed,” said Hilary Emmer, who chairs the council’s election committee and reached out to dozens of Islanders about running. “I would like to see a real election.”

Emmer made a particular effort to reach out to Republicans, who sometimes contend the council fails to represent their interests, she said.

“I just didn’t hear back from people,” she said.

Two years ago, during the last community council election, 10 people ran for nine seats.

Jean Bosch, a member of the executive board, said she was disappointed about the election’s cancellation because it’s a good way to inform Islanders about what it is the council does. The council is one of a handful of community-run groups within unincorporated King County — a body that isn’t very political but can provide a forum for the community to address pressing issues and offers an important liaison with the county.

“I think it’s a shame from the point of view of outreach. But I’m glad we’ve got nine people,” she said. “These people are thoughtful, well-connected people who will bring the issues before the council that need to come before us — and that’s the main job of the council.”

Community council candidates

Several current executive board members said they will remain on the board. They are:

Jack Barbash

Jean Bosch

Kyle Cruver

Hilary Emmer

Jolene Lamb

Melodie Woods

Three have agreed to serve for the first time:

Ian Burke

Tom Herring

Bill Tobin

Those who are stepping down are:

Dan Asher

Jim English

Dennis Saunders

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