Golf course, YMCA on Sumner candidates’ minds

Hopefuls for Sumner mayor, City Council share ideas on how to spend $53 million from sale of golf course

kari.plog@thenewstribune.comOctober 2, 2013 

Two major land-use decisions in Sumner are providing candidates with talking points ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

The City Council recently approved a deal to sell Sumner Meadows Golf Links for more than $53 million. And in April, the council agreed on a new site for a long-awaited YMCA after controversial plans to build it on prime farmland south of the city were stalled.

Candidates running for mayor and City Council have strong opinions on how to handle the influx of cash from the golf course sale, as well as what the new Y means for the city.

MAYOR RACE

Incumbent Mayor Dave Enslow said he was instrumental in bringing the YMCA to Sumner, working for five years with community groups and volunteers and eventually helping secure the site near the intersection of 64th Street and 160th Avenue East where the organization plans to break ground next spring.

“I think it’s a benefit to the entire community,” he said. “I was quite shocked when my opponent voted against it.”

First elected mayor in 2006, Enslow is seeking re-election to finish what he started with the YMCA and the golf course sale.

“It’s taken a lot of skill to get us where we are today,” he said.

Outside Sumner, 71-year-old Enslow said he’s built relationships while advocating for regional issues such as completing state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma.

“I think what it takes to represent Sumner is to know representatives around the region,” he said.

As a board member for Sound Transit and Pierce Transit, Enslow also plans to help improve transportation after public transit took severe hits during his tenure.

City Council member Nancy Dumas, Enslow’s challenger, is a longtime small-business owner who’s been active in Sumner schools, including serving as PTA president for Maple Lawn Elementary.

She calls herself an “average Joe” who understands the needs of businesses and supports controlled growth and local farmers. She wants to increase collaboration with the Sumner Downtown Association to revitalize the downtown core.

Dumas, 48, was conflicted when she voted to approve selling the golf course; she didn’t want to lose more open land but knew many residents favored the sale.

Now, she wants to involve the public in the next steps.

“It killed me to vote yes,” she said. “I think we are in a unique position to be good fiscal stewards of that money.”

As for her no vote on the YMCA, Dumas said she was upset with the lack of public process, especially after the city’s financial commitment doubled.

“My vote was not a no against the Y,” she said. “This is $5 million cash of the citizens’ money that they had no input on.”

Dumas said the council is frequently pressured to make decisions without enough information.

“We’re a small community,” she said. “We don’t have the latitude or the resources to not share information.”

Enslow denies the claim, saying he has worked to keep the council well-informed.

“I see this as a partnership, me and the council,” he said. “I think that we’ve been extraordinarily transparent.”

CITY COUNCIL RACES

Two incumbents on the Sumner City Council face challengers in November, while Steve Allsop is running unopposed for Position 3.

Position 1 incumbent Ed Hannus, who’s seeking a third term, hopes to offer residents a downtown market and lower utility rates.

Although he said closing the Red Apple grocery store was a cost-effective decision for the city, he said another downtown grocer would be a great first step to revitalizing downtown.

“That would be beneficial to the businesses and the residents,” he said.

Hannus, 77, also said the golf course sale is an important issue, and he hopes the city will use money from the deal to improve roads and pay off utility fund debt, which could lower rates for residents.

Earle Stuard, a 68-year-old Planning Commission member who’s challenging Hannus, hopes to strengthen fiscal responsibility on the council.

He worked in the finance department at the city of Bellevue for 38 years and said he has experience with municipal budgets.

He’s also concerned with spending the proceeds from the golf course sale; he said it’s important to take a conservative look at what will benefit residents the most.

“Some people on the council have pet projects,” Stuard said. “We need to take a good, hard, long look at where this money should go. Let’s not be a kid in a candy store.”

Randy Hynek, the 53-year-old incumbent seeking re-election to Position 2, said the YMCA is the most important issue in Sumner. He supports the new Y but said its site is a bad location — a wetland that requires costly improvements to build on.

“We didn’t do them any favors,” he said. “We sold a swamp to the YMCA.”

Hynek also expressed concern about how funds from the golf course sale will be spent. “I think, number one, the public should have a say where the money from the sale should go.”

Challenger Kathy Hayden, Planning Commission chairwoman and a longtime small-business owner, decided to run against Hynek after he voted against the new Y. He and Dumas were the only no votes.

“Who votes no for a YMCA?” Hayden said. “It’s going to be a great addition to our city.”

Hayden, 59, said she has attended council meetings for nearly 20 years. She said that, if elected, she looks forward to collaboration rather than confrontation.

“I think that the council itself is not working as a team,” she said.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 kari.plog@thenewstribune.com @KariPlog

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