Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 5

Olson’s campaign contributors show lack of transparency

In regards to a prior letter to the editor regarding David Olson, who is running for school board, Olson is partisan as they come and beholden to special interest. Looking online at the reports Olson has reported to the Public Disclosure Commission, the list of those who have donated thousands of dollars to his school board race are partisan themselves. James and Maryln Jensen’s son is Jim Jensen, a major supporter of Trump who had to drop out of a recent political campaign due to his racist outburst on social media. Karen and Jon Monson donated tens of thousands of dollars in the recent past to fight against improving Peninsula schools.

And you can’t get any more partisan than Olson taking a $500 donation from the local Republican club. Again, Olson’s biggest financial supporters are entities that are highly partisan, have supported efforts to stop improvements to our schools and are special interest. I ask that Olson publicly explain these donations in the paper or social media. If he cannot, I ask voters to not support Olson due to his lack of transparency, his ties to those who would let our schools fail and his connection to those who have created a mockery of our democracy.

Gloria Richter, Gig Harbor

Vote Jill Guernsey for mayor

It was six years ago when I walked into the Public Works conference room at the City of Gig Harbor. I had recently achieved my master’s degree and attended a workshop on emergent leadership. I was nervous and excited as I repeated my servant leadership goals in my head and conjured up the image of my mentor rooting for me.

I placed my bag down as I handed the cover letter and resume over the large conference table to the suited woman sitting across from me. She quietly stood up and shook my hand with a smile in her eyes. I remember this day well, because I had gotten the courage to apply for my first city board and it was the first time I met Jill Guernsey.

Over the past six years, I have met with Jill numerous times; discussing community engagement, the wants of community members and organizations, our common Rotarian projects, as well as our own personal growth. Not only do I respect her as our mayor and a person, I also see her as a servant leader and an independent female role model.

I trust her leadership. She supports those who endeavor to serve our city. It is my hope that our community will continue to support Jill in her journey to lead us to a more sustainably connected community.

Brett Marlo DeSantis, Gig Harbor

Kuhn possesses forthrightness, passion

The Republican forum debate between Mayor Jill Guernsey and challenger Kit Kuhn highlighted several issues regarding the future of Gig Harbor. Mayor Guernsey, remaining poised throughout the debate, handled herself well in the face of several onslaughts from Kuhn regarding the management of the city. Lacking the polished oratory of his opponent, Kuhn did surface leadership shortcomings which now, after attending the Gig Harbor City Council meeting on Sept. 25, underscores why Gig Harbor residents should be concerned.

The old Masonic Lodge, with an assessed value of $239,000 and Zillow sale value estimated at $477,000, was purchased by the city for $665,000. Numerous policy and procedural errors were admitted to by the council, yet Guernsey authorized the purchase without first obtaining council ratification, a property appraisal or completing an environmental study.

This attempt at whitewashing procedural indiscretion is why I believe Kit Kuhn is the right choice. We need someone who will hold all city officials to the standard of law. Regardless of Mayor Guernsey’s eloquence, her “I wasn’t there” explanation for council and/or city manager procedural indiscretions, just doesn’t work. Absent leadership at critical times is undermining community confidence. While Kuhn may lack oratorical polish and a legal background, he possess forthrightness and a passion to question the direction being taken by the city.

His proposed way forward, starting first with restructuring the very basis of how decisions are made at City Hall, is worthy of serious consideration.

I endorse Kit Kuhn for mayor.

Richard Jordan, Gig Harbor

Balliett’s background would add interesting dynamic to board

I go to church with Noelle Balliett, a candidate for the Peninsula School Board, and I recently attended one of her campaign events.

As a parent in the district, I have to say I am extremely impressed with her level of knowledge on a whole host of subjects concerning our schools, including the budget, state funding, testing, class sizes, etc. It is clear that she has done her research and spent many hours educating herself on the functions of the board and on parent and student needs. It is difficult to believe that she has not been in the role for years - rather than a first-time candidate. Her compassion and commitment to our schools was evident.

I think that her background in clinical psychology would add an interesting and positive dynamic to the school board. Noelle has an unusual skill set that seems applicable to issues facing students and the district today, such as bullying and teen depression. She has my vote!

Margaret Farber, Gig Harbor

Balliett is a fresh voice moving forward

I have had the opportunity to interact with Noelle and believe she would be an excellent addition to the school board and a fresh new voice moving forward.

She has a clear vision for collaboration and engagement of all stakeholders, which I believe is key after living in Gig Harbor for 20 years and having two children grow up attending schools in the district. It is imperative that we have accessible board members, who are all working toward a common goal.

I believe the community needs someone like Noelle, who has the skillset and balanced approach to be successful in elevating the Peninsula schools to the next level, with transparency and a willingness to listen to all sides. I encourage you to reach out to her and get a further understanding of her background, strengths and thoughts on how she can contribute.

Jessica Sawyer, Gig Harbor

How is One Harbor Point good for the community?

I’ve been following the proposed development of One Harbor Point with much dismay. Besides the fact the project is a bad idea, the website promoting the project is chock full of lies. For example, the title of a page on its website says “Enhancing Views.” Could someone explain how building multiple, multi-level buildings enhances our views of the water?

Their own diagram clearly shows the majority of the water is not viewable as a pedestrian. Instead that same diagram calls them “Regional Views.” That’s marketing speak for no one near the water. If they are dishonest in promoting the project, how are we supposed to believe the other claims of it being good for our community?

Daniel Skiffington, Gig Harbor

David Olson should retain his position on school board

As former president of the Peninsula School Board and a board member for eight years, I know what it takes to be an effective and successful school board member.

That is why I am endorsing and voting for David Olson to retain his position on the school board. I served alongside David for several years. From his first day on the school board, he was a champion for students, teachers, and quality schools. David Olson has campaigned tirelessly on the need, not only for a new school in Harbor North, but for renovations and upgrades to every school in the district.

He has championed expanding Vocational Education classes and Enhanced Programs. He should be commended for reaching out and building bridges with those who often oppose bonds and levies, which directly contributed to the passage of the M&O Levy last year with a record “Yes” vote. I know David Olson — and he cares deeply about this school district.

I am voting yes to re-elect David Olson.

Wendy Wojtanowicz, Gig Harbor

Balliett is exactly what the school district needs

As a father with a child in the Peninsula School District, and as a husband whose wife teaches in the district, I feel driven to share my support for Noelle Balliett for the Peninsula School Board.

I am an Army veteran who served for over 27 years, including three combat tours, and I understand service, commitment and sacrifice. These are values I hold dear.

I have known Noelle and her family personally for about two years. I have witnessed her dedication to helping Army veterans as a clinical psychologist. Noelle shares the values I feel are important in any political candidate — most importantly, integrity.

Noelle is exactly what our school district needs. She is a servant. She has demonstrated high expectations and quality standards. Noelle understands that student learning is the priority and is dedicated to student achievement. In addition, Noelle is a team player. As a veteran, this is very important to me.

What I like most is that Noelle is not a politician. She is a mom, a wife, and a mental health professional dedicated to helping veterans overcome the horrors of war. With a servant’s heart, she desires to make our community better. Noelle has my support.

Joseph Hockmuth, Gig Harbor

Under Guernsey, Gig Harbor has flourished

Even in Gig Harbor, there is fake news.

The verbal trashing and misrepresentation of city management, the city council and Mayor Jill Guernsey is unhealthy and damaging to the positive spirit of our community. Under Mayor Guernsey’s leadership the city of Gig Harbor has flourished. A few examples include the Welcome Plaza at Skansie Brothers Park, the Ancich Waterfront Park for more public water access opportunities, the award-winning Cushman Trail, working with WSDOT to address traffic concerns, the Harbor Element revitalizing downtown and the development of new businesses throughout Gig Harbor.

The mayor has spear headed community partnerships with PenMet Parks, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance and the Chamber. She also established the Leadership Council, a forum for business and community leaders in Gig Harbor who meet to collaborate and inform on community issues.

Know the facts, not “faux” facts, and vote for Mayor Jill Guernsey who has the leadership, experience and vision for Gig Harbor.

Pamela Peterson, Gig Harbor

Do your homework before voting

As a registered voter in and around Gig Harbor for 50 years, I recall that when a political challenger focuses on denouncing the opposition with personal attacks, or with distortions of fact rather than focusing on his/her credentials for the task (example in the race for mayor of our town) there is usually something amiss. There are a number of “myths” out there being circulated by those anxious to replace the mayor — and I suggest all voters take the time to weed out the facts from the fiction.

The current mayor, Jill Guernsey, has the following points in her favor. First, the city is in great financial shape, a balanced budget, and a strong reserve fund. Second, the city development regulations are very difficult — allowing no favoritism to development or anti-development. Also, development agreements have been successfully used about 18 times over the past 20 years; these agreements allow some creative design and development attributes, and undergo a rigorous process for review and approval. The mayor has recently and rightly voted to allow this process go forward on a debated downtown project, without any bias toward approval or denial.

The city parks system has expanded and flourished under the current administration — examples include the Plaza at Jerisich Park, the Ancich park, enhancements to the Jerisich Dock, the new park at Gig harbor North, the recent harbor entrance sandspit acquisition, etc. etc. The city police department is highly respected and a competent protector of us residents. Tree removal in the city is subject to strict regulation and if determined to be legal, there is a mandate to re-plant a multiple of trees for each one removed.

The city has greatly reduced legal fees, resulting from the mayor’s legal knowledge and respect for the rights of the city as well as those seeking permits — and she has used negotiation and professionalism to resolve complex issues.

The mayor has endured with dignity and professionalism the efforts of some opposition leaders who organize lots of attendees for certain City Council meetings, and then uses threats, intimidation, cheering and jeering, and a general lack of respect during public meetings in the City Hall as they try to demand decisions they want on debated topics.

I recall the days of “backroom” meetings in the City hall between favored constituents and previous city leaders – but those days are long gone, and particularly gone under the leadership of Jill Guernsey. While never perfect, her efforts to demonstrate “transparency” between city actions and the public in an everchanging environment of different communication styles is commendable.

The mayor has no direct control over increased traffic and growth issues; and while politically popular to claim that a new mayor can “fix” these issues legally — such claims are simply not true; most of these traffic and growth increases we all notice result from decisions made locally and statewide five, 10 and 20 years ago.

Opposition leadership has distorted facts to discredit the mayor and to stir emotions and portray a negative impression of current city governance. The absence of civility by the opposition is disturbing. Our mayor, Jill Guernsey, is an extremely credible and competent leader for our town — and deserves serious consideration for our votes.

Dave Morris, Gig Harbor