This editorial will appear in the Monday print edition.
UPlace needs fresh faces, but not quite yet
Three incumbents – Debbie Klosowski, Gerald Gehring and Jean Brooks – deserve re-election to City Council.
It would be hard to find another city whose elected officials have been in office as long as University Place’s.
Six of seven City Council members have served continuously since incorporation in 1995; the seventh, Gerald Gehring, has been on the council for 10 years. Compare that to the City of Lakewood, where only two current council members have served since incorporation in 1996.
Such longevity reflects a general, if not universal, satisfaction with the way University Place has been run. But the lack of council turnover is troubling. Fresh blood is good for governing bodies, and more must be done to encourage the next generation of leadership in University Place. An open seat every now and then would be a welcome first step.
But turnover for its own sake isn’t a good idea when the incumbents are as solid as the three seeking re-election Nov. 6. All three deserve voters’ support.
In Position 2, Debbie Klosowski is an easy call over Carl Mollnow, a retired Air Force pilot who appears to have personal grievances with city staff. Among his priorities are getting rid of the city’s roundabouts and medians and stopping work on the Town Center – neither of which is realistic or desirable.
Klosowski studies issues carefully, listens to all sides and is open-minded. Her goals in a fourth full term would be to focus on economic development outside of the Town Center; more sidewalks and walking and biking paths; a citywide fitness campaign; and, most importantly, sewers for unserved neighborhoods.
In Position 6, Gerald Gehring has an energetic challenger in Rose Ehart, the executive director of a food bank with strong backing from the local Democratic Party. Ehart makes good points about how the council needs to be more respectful of citizens and provide more opportunities for public input.
But Gehring, who have lived in University Place since 1955, makes a strong case for giving him a fourth term. As a contractor who understands construction and budget issues, he’s a valuable resource on the council while the city is building the Town Center.
Position 7 incumbent Jean Brooks is facing the most formidable of the three challengers in her bid for a fourth full term.
Denise McCluskey, a human resources manager and 18-year city resident, served six years on the Parks & Recreation Commission and now is on the Planning Commission. She chaired the city’s Capital Strategy Task Force and is a leader in efforts to improve the Kobayashi Preserve park. She is a strong advocate for greater transparency in government and public involvement.
Of the three races, this was the toughest call. Brooks, a program manager at a state facility for juvenile offenders, has the advantage of experience and a deep knowledge of city affairs. She’s been an integral part of the city’s success since before Day 1. Although she’s been criticized for sometimes having an abrupt manner with the public, she deserves the opportunity to see projects she helped start through to completion.