Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor, Aug. 31

Tie-breaking vote left residents feeling betrayed

I wanted to respond to the editorial written by Gig Harbor’s mayor, Jill Guernsey, relating to the One Harbor Point development project and her view on property rights (Gateway, Aug. 17). There were 38 local folks at the council meeting who got up and expressed their opposition to the project, mostly citing the multitude of variances the project would require to be approved and pleading with city managers to defend the building codes the rest of us must abide by. The only supporters of the project were in some way connected with it, so it was, for the most part, unanimously opposed by the community it will be built in. To those who do not know, this property is situated at the mouth of our beautiful harbor, and the tall fir trees that will be clearcut to build these 29 apartments, provide the most beautiful evergreen frame to the iconic view that welcomes people into our town by water, and graces magazine covers and advertisements inviting people to visit.

Mayor Guernsey cast the tie-breaking vote that moved this project forward, despite the unanimous opposition expressed by Gig Harbor’s townspeople at the meeting considering the proposal. We felt totally betrayed when our unanimous opposition was overlooked and the vote fell in favor of the developer. It is for this reason that we are hoping to install new leadership in our town that hears the voices of its people and recognizes that the identity and character of our town needs thoughtful and mindful leaders to preserve it and protect it.

Karen Bujacich McDonell, Gig Harbor

City needs Guernsey’s leadership, experience during these critical times

The city of Gig Harbor and its 9,000-plus residents deserve a mayor who understands the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) and its mandate that development take place inside the city limits so that rural areas remain rural. With her background in land use, Jill understands the GMA, property owners’ rights and how to manage the state mandated growth. Jill also understands why the earlier city leadership changed the zoning in 2004 to allow smaller lot sizes and how it led to more houses, more people and more traffic in the city. It is now the job of the mayor to enforce what the previous City Council changed in 2004, until it is revised again.

While we have all seen the increased traffic in Gig Harbor, it is nothing compared to other areas in Pierce, Kitsap and King counties. The recent improvements that have been made at the Olympic and Pt Fosdick area have eased traffic on the overpass and are a direct result of Jill’s efforts and her ability to work with state transportation officials. Thanks to Jill, improvements to other areas around town are underway to relieve some of the traffic pressure.

The mayor is the CEO of city government and heads up the executive branch of city and its multimillion dollar budget. Running the city is not something that a person can just step into without any experience and do competently. For that reason, virtually all who have become mayor have previously served on City Council, or at least on city boards and commissions.

Whether you live in incorporated Gig Harbor or not, we need Mayor Jill Guernsey’s leadership and experience during these critical times. Jill is an active member of the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, and an active volunteer for many civic organizations. Jill is present for events that are important for Gig Harbor and honors our maritime heritage just as we all do.

While anyone can say what they would do if they were in charge, Jill shows what she is doing every day with her experience, balanced leadership and volunteer spirit for our community. She is not backed by any one group, nor does she have a hidden agenda. Her entire four years as the current mayor and her goal for the next four years is to do what is in the best interest of Gig Harbor, not just for any one person or group.

Sharon Shaffer, Gig Harbor

Downtown ideas have the potential to unite us

I agree with last week’s editorial comment (From the Helm column, Aug. 24): “These recommendations are spot on.” The UW students spent significant time listening to the community and I think they have captured ideas that could bring the community together.

The sensitivity to appropriate scale and preservation of significant structures and trees is blended with ideas for an active downtown for living, shopping and playing. The added parking would allow further development of a “walking-oriented downtown.” This is a vision we could support and work toward.

I have a stake in downtown as I live there and have had connections for more than 60 years starting when my uncle operated Glein Boat Building at what is now the Gig Harbor Boat Shop at the Eddon Boatyard. I love our historic fishing community heritage and want it preserved but I also want downtown activities and services. I believe they can coexist if we listen to each other and search for common ground. These downtown ideas have the potential to bring us together.

I guess I am more optimistic about our future. In the past few years our downtown has become stronger. Maybe we are near the tipping point where we can be economically viable while protecting our heritage. We need to plan for the longterm.

With visionary city leadership and the open-minded participation of community groups and citizens, we can continue to have the best small town we could imagine. I’m in, how about you?

Gary Glein, Gig Harbor

Balliett understands issues facing Peninsula School District

I recently met Noelle Balliett at the Communities In Schools of Peninsula annual fundraiser and loved how warm and approachable she was. I also appreciated how clearly she articulated her understanding of our district’s and our community’s needs, and explained her very realistic goals.

As an involved mom of three kids, I’ve learned a lot about the issues our district deals with, the impact we’ve experienced from the significant growth in our community, and the ever-changing challenges our students and staff face.

Noelle understands these issues, and wants to help the district work toward better communication, greater transparency, and smart stewardship.

In the past, it’s been difficult for our community and district to find common ground. Noelle has solid ideas on how to strengthen connections and build bridges to achieve shared goals that include everyone’s input.

She also has a pulse on how to help more students succeed. As a psychologist, Noelle has strong working knowledge about the link between student achievement and social-emotional learning — and wants to help the district as it moves in the direction of better serving the whole child.

Improving relationships? Ensuring more kids have brighter futures? Noelle has my vote for PSD school board!

Lisa Anderson, Gig Harbor

Balliett is in the race for the good of students

I’d like to express my wholehearted support for Noelle Balliett, who’s running to serve on the Peninsula School District’s board of directors.

As a former member of the school board myself, I know how important and beneficial it is to have a board of directors committed to working together to achieve common goals, and what a huge difference that can make across the district. I feel confident that Noelle knows how to gather information, weigh options, resolve differences, and make decisions that put our children first.

I’ve met Noelle and talked with her at length about why she wants to serve, and I have no doubt that she’s in it for the good of our students and our community, not for herself.

Although she has a reserved demeanor, Noelle is smart and dedicated and has shown a capacity for building relationships, even with people representing different views, which is absolutely essential to succeed in this role.

I encourage your readers to join me in voting for Noelle this November.

Barb Trotter, Gig Harbor

Guernsey is the right leader for the city

It is a pleasure to endorse Jill Guernsey for reelection as Gig Harbor’s mayor. Jill is exactly the right leader we need to ensure that our Maritime City continues to be a jewel for residents and visitors and thrives as the economic and cultural hub of our entire peninsula region.

I trust her judgment and admire her iron commitment to good government in our democracy.

Larry Seaquist, Gig Harbor