Poulsbo in Focus: Garland’s run shows winds are changing

By Bill Effinger

This recent headline in the Kitsap Daily News caught my attention: “Poulsbo workshop will examine mayor’s salary, executive structure.” This is important for every Poulsbo citizen of voting age because as the article further suggests, major changes are being considered that will dramatically alter Poulsbo’s future.

These issues were addressed in a special council meeting on April 25, so please stay tuned.

However, in light of the meeting, I have some suggestions that could be considered by the council, inasmuch as Mayor Becky Erickson has stated she will not run again when her term ends four years from now.

This begs the question, why raise Erickson’s salary a whopping 28 percent, or $20,000, now? Has the mayor’s role increased that much?

Erickson ran for a third term knowing what her salary would be, so why not hold that increase for the next mayor or — better — for an incoming city manager? If that is what the council decides to do, it would give some negotiating room to the council. In my view, that would be a prudent business decision.

Also, should the council decide to establish a mayor-manager form of government (of which I am more familiar with and wholeheartedly support), rather than waiting for the mayor’s departure? Why not begin the search for a city manager immediately, which will take at least a year and maybe longer, then bring her or him on board with enough time to assimilate into the existing management structure and use the current mayor’s relationship with city staff to make a smooth transition?

In the meantime, every Poulsbo citizen of voting age should begin paying particular attention to the city’s 2019 election, since the potential for five new council members will affect the future of our city for years to come.

Someone wanting to help map out the future of our community should consider making a run for one of those positions. Why not jump in, as has our newest councilwoman Abby Garland?

I interviewed Garland to get a better understanding of why she’s running. She asked to be interviewed by e-mail. What follows is our digital dialogue:

BE: What brought you and your family to Poulsbo and how long have you lived here?

AG: My husband’s family is from the Bremerton area, and going back to 2007, we always made a point of coming to Poulsbo when we were in the area visiting family. In the summer of 2016, my husband received a job offer in the Seattle area and, for a multitude of reasons, we chose to move to Poulsbo and raise our children here.

BE: What prompted you to apply for the vacant council seat?

AG: Quite simply, I ran because there was a need for someone to step up, and I was willing, able and capable of serving my community. I also believed that bringing more diversity as a woman, a mom to young children, and a younger person to the council, would be beneficial. In the general election, I received over 450 votes after a campaign of just about three weeks. As a relative newcomer to Poulsbo, that result indicated to me that voters were interested in my message. Many in the community encouraged me to continue the process and apply for appointment. I am grateful for this opportunity.

BE: What is the most important issue you would like to see resolved or created before your term ends in 2019?

AG: There are many important issues, from pedestrian safety, to affordability concerns, economic growth and sustainability issues, and encouraging involvement in local government, all of which are important and being actively worked on at various levels. As a mom, an important issue is [the] access to childcare. A lack of childcare spaces in Poulsbo was an issue I brought to light and spoke of often during my campaign and is an issue I am continually working on as a councilmember.

My interview with Abby Garland will continue in the Herald’s May 4 issue.

— Bill Effinger can be reached at bill@billeffinger.net and @WREPro on Twitter.