The race for Position 7 on the Gig Harbor City Council pits two candidates — both longtime residents — who have viewpoints on Gig Harbor crafted from different generations.
Randy Mueller grew up in Ballard and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve while in high school, eventually serving two years of active duty on a small helicopter carrier off the beaches of Vietnam. A 1972 graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in engineering, he spent 37 years working in the maritime industry, both private and public. He moved to Gig Harbor at the urging of his late wife, Theresa Malich, in 1984 and found it to be a charming community. Mueller’s brother in law, Ken Malich, is currently a Council member, and Theresa spent time as a member of the city’s Planning Commission.
Spencer Abersold, 44, graduated from Peninsula High School in 1992, The Evergreen State College in 1994 and Central Washington University in 1995. He had a stint as manager of Tides Tavern for eight years before a working as a real estate agent, then becoming station manager at KGHP-FM, a position he has held since 2004.
The Peninsula Gateway Editorial Board endorses Abersold as the better candidate for Position 7.
Mueller has great respect for his hometown of Ballard, and sees some similarities in Gig Harbor. It bothers him that some of Ballard’s charm has been damaged from new growth, and he sees Gig Harbor going down that road as well. He feels some past Council decisions on zoning changes and sight variances in the downtown corridor have not benefited the downtown, and that developers are getting to write whatever deals they can negotiate while some Council members are not listening to what the citizens want.
Putting the breaks on development would help the city get a handle on things and give it time to address infrastructure issues, the retired engineer says.
Abersold understands first and foremost that everyone is sharing the community. He has seen a wide variety of viewpoints throughout his time working at the Tides, where folks have been know to give their true feelings on what is going on around town. He also has experience working at a community radio station, which exposes him to a wide variety of people in town with a wide array of backgrounds who enjoy talking about what is going on at the ground level.
What Abersold lacks in his experience with city government, besides attending City Council meetings, he makes up for with a desire to serve others in his community. He has served as the Kiwanis Key Club advisor at Peninsula High School, and is also Masonic Lodge member who took great pride in working the grill and serving food at various Sunday pancake breakfasts over the years. Abersold understands that every citizen isn’t going to agree on how things should look or what projects fit where, but he has the capability to see different sides and give each citizen a chance to have their voice heard.
While the board likes Mueller’s views on allowing the project at Ancich Park to move forward so the community can utilize the area, there is some trepidation that a do-not-touch approach to other potential projects and development agreements in the downtown corridor is not the way to build a prosperous and up-and-coming downtown.
Abersold would give the Council the perspective of a demographic that is not always well represented on a weekly basis at meetings. His outgoing and gregarious personality also gives him an aura of being someone who could be engaged to talk about the city no matter the place or time, bringing an extra bit of an outreach element to a Council that could use any bit of encouragement while it attempts to tackle some difficult issues in the coming years.