When new Sumner Mayor Bill Pugh moved into his new office in City Hall, he brought artwork that inspired him.
The pieces, painted by Tacoma artist Dee Molenaar, were of Mount Rainier and Mount Kilimanjaro, both of which Pugh climbed when he was in his 50s.
Pugh said the paintings remind him “You don’t think about what can’t be done, you think about what can be done.”
The message has a dual meaning for two of Pugh’s passions — first for hiking, and now, for his work in public service.
Bill Pugh ran unopposed for the position of Mayor of Sumner and was elected in November. He’ll serve a four-year term.
Pugh ran unopposed for the position of mayor of Sumner and was elected in November. After the unexpected passing of former Mayor Dave Enslow, Pugh was sworn in early last month. He’ll serve a four-year term.
“I cannot imagine anyone else taking on the job of Sumner mayor,” Sumner Deputy Mayor Kathy Hayden said. “As former Public Works director, Bill has had his hand in every huge project we are currently working on. The new bridge, the (state Route) 410/Traffic Ave. overpass, the Sound Transit parking garage, the (Sumner Meadows) Golf Course sale, to name a few! He is progressive, fair and works well with people. I look forward to working with him the next four years.”
Pugh has no public service experience, but worked for the city of Sumner for nine years as Public Works director. Last year, he officially retired — but it wasn’t for long. The decision to run for office was a big one.
“(Public service) is a whole different thing, so I did wrestle with it for a while, but the thing that really got me — one, I really love the community ... and the second thing was the really incredible staff. If I came in, I knew I’d have good staff,” Pugh said.
(Public service) is a whole different thing, so I did wrestle with it for a while, but the thing that really got me—one, I really love the community... and the second thing was the really incredible staff. If I came in, I knew I'd have good staff.
Bill Pugh, Mayor of Sumner
Pugh moved to Sumner in 2010 after two years working for the city and got involved with the community. He is a former president of Sumner Rotary and met his wife, Karen, in Sumner. The two married in 2011. Previously, he worked for 33 years at the city of Tacoma.
Born in Seattle and raised in Edmonds, Pugh has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Seattle University and a master’s degree in engineering from Penn State.
For years, Pugh worked with developing streets, land uses and major capital projects. Now, as mayor, the work has helped him understand the inner workings of the city.
“It helps me understand what’s filtered up to me,” Pugh said.
But now, he’s focusing on specific issues Sumner faces and the projects that “can be done.” Pugh finds public safety an important issue and plans continued support of the Sumner Police Department. Pugh also wants to provide “cross-generational housing,” specifically for seniors and millennials. Millennials will be Sumner’s majority workforce in five years, Pugh said.
Pugh also wants to prevent the flooding of White River, which poses a threat to the city’s industrial center.
“It just has to happen because we cannot afford to flood that area up there,” Pugh said.
Already, the city is working with the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes to determine possible solutions to the flooding while also providing habitat for fish.
Vacant properties within the city are also on Pugh’s list.
“I came here in 2008 and (I) still see the same vacant properties. You look at it and think, why isn’t it being developed?” the mayor said.
I came here in 2008 and (I) still see the same vacant properties...You look at it and think, why isn't it being developed?
Bill Pugh, Mayor of Sumner
One of those properties is the Red Apple Market downtown, which will be demolished this month. Another is a building off of Parker Road, a former QFC. The vacated buildings are potential development opportunities that can benefit the city and residents, Pugh said.
But maintaining Sumner’s “small town” character in the midst of a growing and changing region is another issue the City Council will have to face together.
“That’s really a challenge — maintaining what we love about Sumner and adapting to the (regional) changes,” Pugh said.