Gateway: News

Candidate Q&A: Gig Harbor City Council Position 7

This is the fifth installment of an ongoing series featuring Gig Harbor candidates running for Peninsula School Board, Gig Harbor City Council and mayor of Gig Harbor in the Nov. 7 general election.

All candidates were invited to participate in this question-and-answer series. All were asked the same four questions and to provide a biography.

Spencer Abersold – Gig Harbor City Council Position 7

A lifelong citizen of Gig Harbor, I graduated Peninsula High School class of 1992, The Evergreen State College in 1994 and Central Washington University in 1995.

I was manager of Tides Tavern 1995 to 2003, worked as a real estate agent for John L Scott from 2000 to 2009, and am currently the station manager of KGHP-FM, a position I have held since 2004.

I also served as volunteer logistics chair for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life from 1998 to 2004, and Kiwanis Key Club Advisor at Peninsula High School from 2014 to present.

Q: What qualifies you to run for Gig Harbor City Council?

A: Gig Harbor is my home. I have been raised to serve my community and have spent the larger portion of my life doing this with pride and joy. I have always desired to eventually work in some capacity in local government, but until this point in my life have felt I could do more to service the populace working outside of city government.

It was during this time that I was working behind the scenes to strengthen my knowledge and understanding to better serve my fellow citizens. I have since familiarized myself with the local civic, business and volunteer leaders who craft and shape the community we call Gig Harbor. My education continues, but I feel the necessary experience can only come from total immersion into our City Council. This is my reason for running in this election.

Q: What do you see as some of the biggest issues facing Gig Harbor?

A: Like all cities large and small, we face a multitude of realities that over time we will be forced to confront. Responsible growth, overcrowding of schools, traffic and protecting our environment are all top-level issues I have observed are the topics of the day.

Personally, I feel the issue that confronts us directly is having a city government that listens to and respects the will and voice of our citizens. I have personally observed City Council meetings where the people have spoken clearly and with reason and those voices were ignored.

Local government must work with and follow the will of the majority and it must install confidence in the populace that our representatives understand and respect the voters’ will.

Q: As the city grapples with how to handle population growth, what issue most concerns you?

A: The character and culture of our community is what concerns me most in regards to growth. We are and have always been a small fishing village with a Croatian heritage. Ever since a small group of explorers seeking shelter during a storm discovered our bay, the harbor has been the guarantor of our community. We have built ourselves up and around it, and it has provided for us.

But now a new storm is on the horizon and like our predecessors we must now plot a course that will protect us and save us from ruin. Overdevelopment has replaced wind, overpopulation has replaced rain and insufficient infrastructure has replaced the tides. We need calm clear leaders who can guide us through the storm and steer us to calmer waters.

Q: If you are elected, what are some of the goals you plan to work on?

A: I have no personal goals or agenda. I affirm here that I will never vote on an issue based on my own personal feelings or desire and will adhere to the will of the majority of the citizens.

I understand the issues I will be faced with concern our downtown scope and scale, and include: improving traffic congestion and seeking ways to affect parking; improving tourism and providing our merchants with viable customers throughout the entire year; addressing issues regarding our schools and seeking ways to lower the burden of overcrowded classrooms. Protection of our environment, maintaining a clean and healthy harbor, preserving our trees and green spaces as well as the wildlife that depends on these areas. And lastly keeping the place we recognize as our home as we remember it and work to ensure what we pass along to the next generation the same gift that we inherited.

Randy Mueller – Gig Harbor City Council Position 7

I grew up in (at the time) the small community of Ballard and attended public schools there. I joined the U.S. Naval Air Reserve while in high school, eventually serving two years of active duty on a small helicopter carrier operating off the beaches of Vietnam.

I graduated from the University of Washington in 1972 with a degree in engineering, spending the next 37 years working in the maritime industry, both private and public. I earned my professional engineering license in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering.

I moved to Gig Harbor at the urging of my late wife, Theresa Malich, in 1984 and found it to be an absolutely charming community, something that my hometown of Ballard was beginning to lose.

I actively support our local museums in preserving the history and maritime heritage, working on events supporting these goals. I am also very active in an area that was a passion in my youth by volunteering with the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent. I am actively involved with the restoration and running of vintage unlimited hydroplanes.

Q: What qualifies you to run for Gig Harbor City Council?

Many of the issues facing the Council are very complex, requiring them to be broken down into manageable and recognizable components and analyzed on a smaller scale. Throughout my engineering career I was constantly challenged by projects requiring this same technique to be applied.

I have an intense desire to preserve the unique character of our town. Having grown up in Ballard in the 1950s and 1960s, I have seen how unchecked growth can seriously affect the livability and character of a small town.

The job of our elected representatives is to represent the wishes of the citizens of Gig Harbor, not dictate what they feel to be in the city’s best interest. I will strive for open communications with those I am elected to represent.

Q: What do you see as some of the biggest issues facing Gig Harbor?

A: The seemingly unrestricted and rapid growth in the outlying areas of Gig Harbor has created problems with our infrastructure (traffic, schools, health care facilities, etc.), with shortcomings arising after the fact. We need to be looking ahead at all impacts of a potential decision.

The very nature of our unique historical downtown business district, our main tourist draw, has the potential of being seriously compromised with large, out-of-scale development due to the application of development agreements. The issues associated with these agreements are threatening the very quality of our most important resource. I feel they do not have a place in historic or sensitive areas in Gig Harbor, as once we lose these areas they will be lost forever. No amount of “trade-offs” are worth this loss.

Q: As the city grapples with how to handle population growth, what issue most concerns you?

A: Sensible traffic planning and anticipating impacts on schools before they begin to overwhelm capacity.

Q: If you are elected, what are some of the goals you plan to work on?

A: My primary goal will be for sensible and well planned growth throughout Gig Harbor. Preservation of our historic downtown business area and neighborhoods does not have to mean stagnation, but well planned and right-sized development must be adhered to.

The wishes of the citizens who make Gig Harbor their home shall remain my utmost priority. In this regard my goal will be to continually seek out public input on issues that affect the livability of our city.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea