Puyallup: Sumner

As his 20-year service comes to a close, Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow recalls city’s change

Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow celebrates with attendees the opening of the Sumner Link Trail. The trail is part of a larger system of connecting communities bike and walking routes that stretch from the InterUrban Trail and feeds into the Puyallup area. The completion of the trail is just one of the many projects Enslow has overseen during his two decades serving the city of Sumner.
Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow celebrates with attendees the opening of the Sumner Link Trail. The trail is part of a larger system of connecting communities bike and walking routes that stretch from the InterUrban Trail and feeds into the Puyallup area. The completion of the trail is just one of the many projects Enslow has overseen during his two decades serving the city of Sumner. Staff file, 2014

A few weeks ago, Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow took a trip to the Gordon Family YMCA with his granddaughter.

He was reminded how it had opened its doors only two years ago.

“I took my granddaughter up there and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this didn’t use to be here,’” Enslow remembered.

Now, the YMCA is a hub for recreational programs and services for the community of Sumner, and it’s just one of the many projects that came to fruition while Enslow served as both mayor and City Council member.

And he’s served for quite a while — two decades, to be exact.

Enslow, 74, first moved to Sumner in the early 1970s after visiting Sumner about a property and finding he loved the small-town feel of the area. Previously, he’d been a Seattle resident; born in Lake Washington and attended Garfield High School and the University of Washington. In Seattle, he also worked in real estate, developing a background in finance.

When he settled down in Sumner, marrying his wife, Bertie, in 1976, Enslow found himself attending City Council meetings. At that time, Sumner’s population was about half of the 9,000 it is today. There were fewer houses, fewer parks. There was no Sounder Station, which was completed in 2000, and no Sumner Link Trail, which opened in 2014. Enslow would get to witness all of it in the years to come.

Enslow first started his service with the city in 1998, when he was elected to City Council.

“I wanted to make sure that I had my imprint on what was happening down here ... It was a labor of love,” he said.

On Council, he witnessed the completion of the Sound Transit Station, the addition of City Hall and expanded Senior Center. He saw the city’s industrial park continue to grow. The industrial park is now the largest provider of industrial jobs in Pierce County, he said.

In 2006, Enslow took his service to another level, and was elected mayor. A few years later, the recession hit. As other cities struggled to keep the lights on, so to speak, Sumner continued to grow and work on projects, said Carmen Palmer, the city’s communications director, who started her position the same year Enslow was elected mayor.

“We were still getting things done. With (Enslow’s) financial acumen and the tone (he) set, (he) allowed us to do that,” Palmer said.

When Palmer typed up a list of all the main events and projects that Enslow had participated in over the years, it totaled three pages. On it was everything from “Bridge Lighting, Classy Chassis and Come Walk With Me started” to one of the most current city projects — the replacement of Bridge Street bridge.

“To work for someone who was really here for the people — it’s been wonderful to work under that,” Palmer said.

Mayor Cannery 20 year sign2
Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow stands under a sign honoring his service to the city at The Old Cannery. Carmer Palmer Courtesy

“Mayor Enslow is a great mayor,” Sumner Council member Kathy Hayden said. “He has been a pleasure to work with and get to know. Dave has been an amazing advocate to the citizens of Sumner, always making sure they are being heard and taken care of. He will be missed.”

Now, Enslow lives in Sumner with his wife and has three children and nine grandchildren. One of his children lives in Sumner, too.

“It’s a great town to raise a family in,” Enslow said. “I’m pretty privileged to live here.”

When his final term as mayor ends in the new year, Enslow plans to travel. He wants to take a cruise in Alaska and take a train somewhere. But he plans to remain a familiar face in Sumner and will continue to walk its streets like he does many mornings to work.

A lot of traditions started while he was serving, and Enslow said he hopes those traditions continue under the new Council.

“It’s changed a lot, but it’s also stayed charming. (I hope) they will continue to (keep) the character of Sumner the same,” he said.

Bill Pugh was elected as the new mayor of Sumner in November and has worked for the city as public works director for 42 years.

“I’m delighted Bill’s doing it and I think he’ll do a great job,” Enslow said. “He really understands the community.”

At the end of the day, what matters to Enslow is that he’s left Sumner better than he found it.

“It’s been a great privilege to be here and serve the people of the community,” he said.

A reception for Enslow is scheduled for Monday (Dec. 18) at the Gordon Family YMCA in Sumner. For those interested in attending, please RSVP to Lana Hoover at lanah@sumnerwa.gov.

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison

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