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Vashon-Maury Island Park and Recreation District Commissioner Position No. 4

4-year term; No salary A Parks & Recreation District is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the public parks and recreation facilities within their jurisdiction, as well as the acquisition of other parks space as funds provide and is appropriate. The commission sets the general policies and workplan of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional parks and recreation staff. One of commission's main duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any parks levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget, whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
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  • Nick Keenan (NP)

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    Douglas Ostrom (NP) economist

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Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major issues facing your park and recreation district?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What experiences have you had that prepares you for this position?

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Phone (206) 408-7442
Email bei_tomo@yahoo.com
Town where you live Vashon, Washington
Experience (300 characters max) Four years of experience as park district commissioner on Vashon Island; more than seven decades of family history on Vashon Island, graduate of Vashon Island High School; PhD in Economics; experience in public policy at State and national level, published author; experience living abroad
Four years ago, I started attending Vashon Park District meetings and was surprised at the disarray. The budget was out of control and a key project was very troubled.I felt that with my background in economics, especially in public sector economics, I could do better. As a semi-retired professor I had the time to do the job and as someone who grew up on the island I felt I had a good perspective. I ran for the position in 2013 and was elected in a contested election. I feel comfortable with my fellow commissioners and feel we have made considerable progress in addressing the problems I identified in 2013, but I am eager to finish the job, particularly with respect to putting VPD on a a firm financial foundation. I am also eager to be able to implement new ideas after four years in which we had to tightly rein in costs to the detriment of being able to do anything new. Of course, fiscal rectitude will continue to be my priority.
1.Eliminating deficit finance and repaying debt accumulated years ago.In particular eliminating reliance on tax anticipation notes that amount to payday lending to the District. 2.Rethinking the role of the Vashon Park District, bearing in mind the importance of both passive and active recreation and beginning new programs where finances allow. 3.Attacking the long list of deferred maintenance projects, keeping in mind that maintenance projects have priority over facilities upgrades with which they are sometimes confused.
Until we pay off our debts completely, our most urgent task is to keep expenditures in check. We don’t really have any realistic options to increase our revenues significantly. We don’t want to get back in the situation where we were four years ago when the State Auditor conducted an extraordinary audit and warned us how precarious our situation was. The most recent audit conducted during my first term was much more favorable.
My experience over the past four years in this position is the most important. The Vashon Park District is a surprisingly complex organization that operates high maintenance athletic facilities, an aging swimming pool that requires seemingly endless fixes, pristine parks that harbor invasive weeds, and much more. We have agreements with the School District, the Land Trust and others to jointly operate facilities. These agreements have to be renegotiated from time to time. I have learned about all these things; as such I am better able than I was four years ago and better equipped to ask informed questions of the Executive Director than a newcomer would be. In my second term, I would be the second most senior of the five park district commissioners. I feel that I would bring important experience to the Board without having a feeling that somehow I “own” the operation through long tenure.

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