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King City of Mercer Island Council Position No. 7

The city council sets the general policies of the city, which are implemented by the city manager and staff. One of council's main duties is the adoption of policies and the enactment of the city's annual budget. City council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending , whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for city employees.

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  • Candidate picture

    Debbie Bertlin

  • Candidate picture

    Jake Jacobson

Biographical Information

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

How would you describe your vision for your city?

What are the obstacles in the path of achieving your vision?

What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastructure?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

How would you propose the council communicate with the citizens of your city or town?

Phone 206.245.8003
Town where you live Mercer Island
Experience (300 characters max) I grew up on Mercer Island and am raising my family here. I completed degrees at Stanford University; my career spans 4 continents with Oracle and Microsoft. My service to Islanders includes MIPA, Open Space Conservancy Trust, and PTA. I have served on City Council for 7 years and am now Mayor.
I am fortunate to have grown up on Mercer Island and am now raising my family here including 2 daughters who attend Island schools. This allows for perspective and understanding of history, context and community values.

During my 7+ years on Council I have developed a deep understanding of the City’s finances, municipal finance and its structural challenges. I have an appreciation for the importance of our Youth and Family Services, our Parks, and utilities as a multi-year liaison to the Utility Board.

I have represented Island interests regionally at the Growth Management Planning Council, and Eastside Transportation Partnership developing strong working relationships with other Eastside leaders.

A decades long advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives in public and private industry, I have won awards for my work and moderated public panels. I understand, deeply believe in, and have been effective at including different voices spanning race, religion, gender, and more.
Islanders have the opportunity to lean into the future and determine a path consistent with our historic values of neighborliness, safety, beautiful parks and open spaces, where we see others as friends and partners in sustaining a community that will serve our children as well as ourselves.

Mine is a vision that maintains the size and scale of our quiet, residential community. We are predominantly a single-family town yet have the opportunity and need to bring further amenities and housing to our Town Center consistent with our Comprehensive Plan. The Town Center is where the transit opportunities, shopping, parks and general services exist. Town Center development must balance the needs of Main Street and Wall Street, i.e. be consistent with Island values and scale and simultaneously sustainable and viable. By balancing these values we will be able to serve current and future residents, and engage and contribute Island-based solutions to the region.
Obstacles include a tax structure that provides too few tools at the local level, limited state investment, and growth pressures that come with a rapidly changing region. Our community wants to feel and know it has more local control over its destiny in terms of character and ways to preserve and progress our vision.

This is not unique to Mercer Island and is well documented in the recently released “A Road Map to Washington’s Future” published by the Ruckelshaus Center, funded by the State Legislature.
Sustainability is a shared community value. Our City must lead by example and provide residents and businesses education and opportunity to improve their own sustainability efforts.

The City can lessen its carbon footprint through cleaner municipal buildings, electrifying fleets, pursuing innovative water management practices, smart maintenance of parks and open space, using best-practices in stormwater management, and upgrading utilities. The City should also continue to enable non-SOV mobility opportunities. Safe and direct bike routes by which to commute and/or reach transit are important. More commuter parking needs to be available, as well as shuttle, bus and ride-share options.

The City and solid waste provider should provide incentives to the community to continue to improve on recycle rates, composting, and as possible, help eliminate single-use plastics. There can be more education and partnerships to improve compostables used by our restaurants and coffee shops.
Our City’s infrastructure was generally built out within a 20-ish year time frame. Consequently, it is aging within a common timeframe.

Refreshing our water, stormwater and sewer lines will be costly and take years due to the immense amount of planning, regional, state and federal policies that must be addressed. Planning is currently underway. In total this will take staff and consulting resources and significant budget. Historically Mercer Island has largely had a “pay as you go” approach with the exception of the recent Sewer Lake line. In the future there may be a need to finance larger projects.

In addition, the topography of the Island makes running utilities complicated. We have many ravines and hills. As an Island we have a very real responsibility and commitment to ensuring Lake Washington is healthy and accessible to all – people, fish and animals.
Mercer Island will need to engage in regional conversations and problem solving with other municipalities. The problems are multi-faceted, and do not belong just to Seattle. Each city/town should be having community conversations about how it best contributes to solution-building.

I have been recently appointed to the King County Affordable Housing Committee which is focused on the “middle income” housing requirements. I believe this will help inform me and our community about broader issues of affordability in the region.
I support the City’s current policies and approach.

Our Police Chief has a publicly stated policy, published in the Mercer Island Reporter, March 19, 2019. “Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) policy on immigration recognizes that MIPD officers are not authorized to enforce federal immigration laws, and therefore, they don’t inquire about someone’s federal immigration status.”

The City Council issued a National Immigration Day of Action, March 2017. “America is a nation of immigrants…immigrants seeking a better life ha(ve) built our nation and brought significant social, economic, and cultural benefits to communities nationwide;…Mercer Island is such a community…Mayors…foster welcoming and secure cities for all their residents, regardless of who they are or where they come from…called on the federal government to enact comprehensive immigration reform and enforce the nation’s immigration laws in a humane manner that does not disrupt the lives of city residents…”
Islanders need to be more aware of the issues, sooner and have access to good information. I have suggested the following:

• Adopting more and better digital tools to facilitate dialogues between residents, staff and Council. The City’s website must be updated; it is hard to navigate and search. • Conducting more nuanced research on Islanders’ opinions using methodologies that capture broader audiences and provide a more detailed picture of expectations. • Providing objective, robust, and timely information about Council, Planning, Design and Parks Commissions’ agendas and initiatives, via many formats. • Taking pen in hand when there are big issues before us, just as I did regarding ST negotiations (MI Reporter Dec 13, 2016, Oct 12, 2016). • Continuing to meet people where they are – on the sideline of the soccer field, at band performances, and at the Farmer’s Market where the real conversations take place.
Address Same
Phone (206) 280-5303
Town where you live Mercer Island
Experience (300 characters max) Lawyer admitted to Practice in Washington (1977) and Alaska (2005); Construction Company Executive with extensive experience in public procurement, government contracts and construction law; brioad and diverse volunteer service and experience in both public and private sectors
I am a Princeton and Stanford graduate and commanded a Navy ship. For 20 years I practiced law in Washington and Alaska specializing in public procurement, government contracts and construction law. I received Martindale Hubbell’s’ AV rating, its highest. In the past 25 years, I have been a senior executive of a Washington General Contractor with extensive experience in hard bid and all other contracting methods for public and private projects. I have negotiated with the Washington Departments of Transportation and Ecology, Sound Transit, King County, Metro and numerous other government agencies. I was a member of the Mercer Island Schools Committee for the 2014 and 2017 levies. From 2010 through 2018, I was a Trustee of the Associated Contractors of Washington and its Vice President (2015-2016) and President (2017). I have extensive experience as a volunteer for Stanford University (1977 to present).
A fiscally prudent and sustainable City which serves the public safety and emergency needs and expectations of its residents especially as it relates to children and seniors, which maintains the integrity of residential neighborhoods, which solicits, listens to and respects the opinions of its residents and acts in the best interests of Mercer Island first and foremost. For instance, I don’t think it is in Mercer Island’s interest to continue to accept the GMA’s density “recommendations.” In addition, I am committed to the highest practicable level of collaboration with the Mercer Island School District whenever and wherever possible.
The unwillingness of recent City Councils to perform cost benefit analyses of proposed courses of action having actual or potential fiscal implications and the inability/unwillingness of some of those currently representing Mercer Island to identify and consider the best interests of Mercer Island when negotiating with regional government agencies, i.e. WSDT, Sound Transit, Metro and King County.
The City should continue to be attentive to and foster sustainable practices in its own operations and to provide the leadership and encourage its citizens to adopt and utilize sustainable practices.
I want to really understand Mercer Island’s water system. Just because infrastructure is old doesn’t mean it needs replaced; however, it is imperative that a thorough analysis of that system is undertaken sooner rather than later so as to ensure Island residents have a safe and sufficient drinking water supply. I want to review the priorities by which we re-surface our streets. The Pavement Control Index which rates our streets is a powerful tool. The City needs to ensure that the operations of other government agencies such as WSDOT, King County (Metro) and Sound Transit do not encroach the mobility of residents for ingress to and egress from the Island and that the City is fully compensated for the impacts of such operations. Finally, I would budget and prioritize the needs of the City within our revenue projections. I would be very transparent with our citizens which projects were unfunded and outside of our six year budget projections.
The City should ensure that its parks, trails and beaches do not become refuges for these populations and make the safety of our citizens a paramount priority. I would do a better job overseeing and insisting on better metrics from ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing). I look at the recent ARCH problems as failures on several levels. Additionally, I would review prior “affordability” agreements under which recent CBD construction was permitted.
The city’s public safety forces should continue to enforce applicable laws in this area and cooperate and coordinate with other jurisdictions in this area to ensure public safety for all Mercer Island citizens, especially children and seniors.
The City confuses quality of communication with quantity of communications. The City maintains 16 separate social media accounts. This is a waste of staff time. I would eliminate all but one fb account and I would require the City Manager and perhaps the City Department Heads to make posts on a timely basis. If elected, I will hold monthly (or more frequent) “Office Hours” at convenient places and times to provide Mercer Island residents easy access to be able to I inform me of their opinions and concerns.