As the debate within Gig Harbor intensifies on how the city and City Council should handle an onslaught of development growth, it’s clear Council members need to be armed with facts before voting on decisions that could drastically change the landscape of the region for years to come.
While some in the community have gone back and forth about the legality of the city’s use of development agreements, it’s important that those speaking for residents be able to interpret the language in those contracts and be able to extrapolate what it means for the community.
The candidates running for the open Gig Harbor City Council Position 2 seat, Bob Himes and Scott Gray, must be able to ask the right questions to all the parties involved.
Himes brings more than 30 years working in engineering management and has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and another in business administration. He retired after serving as director of truck product engineering at Ford Motor Co. Himes and his wife moved to Gig Harbor from Michigan six years ago to be closer to his grandchildren.
His affiliation with the 4 Gig Harbor political group aligns him with other candidates who are vowing to protect the “history, maritime character and natural beauty” of the area.
Gray was employed by a federal agency that has law enforcement responsibilities and retired from that agency after 24 years. He holds a bachelor’s in biology. He also earned a law degree, although never practiced law. He has lived in Gig Harbor for less than a year, but has visited family in the area on a yearly basis since 1991.
The Peninsula Gateway Editorial Board endorses Himes as the best candidate for the open Position 2 seat.
Himes has a background that was honed from dissecting details in complex matters and generating questions that might shed light on pertinent information everyday citizens might glance over.
He decided to get involved in local politics after lobbying on behalf of his neighbors after the owner of a former gravel pit petitioned the city to change the land use designation of employment center to residential high transition land designation.
A public hearing on the development agreement revealed widespread concern from nearby and homeowners about property values, traffic increases and the rise in crime near residential areas. Although the land use decision is ongoing and the designation will not be decided on until after the completion of the Harbor Hill Extension project, Himes proved to be adept in expressing the concerns of his fellow Horizon West Homeowners Association members to the City Council and city officials.
Gray’s No. 1 concern as a candidate centers around stopping growth dead in its tracks. He maintains that those approving or promoting multi-unit developments are the modern equivalent of “carpetbaggers and robber barons from latter 19th century America.”
However, he does have good ideas in pushing for removal of vegetation that obstructs visibility at key intersections and pushing for more sidewalks and paths so pedestrians can avoid walking on dangerous road edges.
Although it is admirable to stand for a cause that could preserves a bit of small-town heritage, it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that certain projects might improve the quality of life for some residents in the city, and that’s where a less rigid frame of mind would be beneficial.
Himes is a proponent of growth that fits within standing zoning codes and development standards, and concurrent infrastructure growth. The board also likes his approach that relies on data-driven traffic solutions with “robust” implementation plans.
He maintains that he would have no problem pushing for the city hiring its own traffic engineer versus contracting out the work to a local firm.
Whatever community improvement ideas Himes gets behind, they will likely be backed by a mountain of facts, something any citizen should willingly support.