This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
From its beginnings as a fishing and boat-building village, Gig Harbor has been one of the most distinctive and picturesque communities in Washington.
It’s been struggling for many years to preserve its character in the face of relentless growth. Now it’s also struggling to make ends meet, its budget riddled by recession-driven declines in sales tax collections and other revenue streams.
It says something about the citizens’ confidence in their leadership that only two of the five City Council members up for election this year have drawn challengers. It also says something good about the city that both of those incumbents are high caliber – and both their opponents as well.
When an incumbent is doing a good job, our inclination is to stick with him or her. We’re endorsing the re-election of Tim Payne in Position 1 and Derek Young in Position 3.
Payne is an attorney and the executive vice president of EMA Inc., a technology and management consulting firm. He’s done four years on the City Council, where he’s distinguished himself as a critical thinker with a rare technical understanding of city infrastructure. His successful private sector experience has been an asset on the council.
Payne’s opponent, Mark Hoppen, is a good alternative. He was the city administrator of Gig Harbor for many years before a falling out with Mayor Chuck Hunter prompted him to take a job as Puyallup’s public works director three years ago.
No shortage of qualifications there. Still, we see no reason to oust Payne.
In Position 3, the experience is all on the side of Derek Young, who is seeking his fourth term on the council. Young says the city’s fiscal crisis persuaded him to run again: “I felt this is a bad time to leave.”
Young is a smart, complex thinker who aggressively educates himself on city issues. A resident of the city’s west side, he complements other members who focus heavily on the view basin. He values Gig Harbor’s unique character, yet he also understands that the city must accommodate carefully channeled growth in order to preserve the city’s rural surroundings.
Challenger Ken Asplund, a project estimator for Saxon Painting, is a committed citizen who lives on the harbor and is anxious to protect the look and feel of the city’s historic downtown core. His perspective is already abundantly represented on the City Council, and he acknowledges that he’d face a learning curve on city issues.
Asplund might well become a fine council member if elected, but there’s no reason to turn out the unusually seasoned and knowledgeable Young.