Q&A: Poulsbo City Council write-in candidate Abby Garland

POULSBO — Abby Garland is a write-in candidate for a position on the Poulsbo City Council in the Nov. 7 general election. She’s the only candidate; John Bukowsky, whose name is on the ballot, withdrew his candidacy. But because his name is on the ballot, Garland must still get more votes than Bukowky to win.

In this conversation with the North Kitsap Herald, Garland talks about her motivation for running, and says she intends to apply for appointment to the council if she doesn’t get enough votes on Election Day.

Herald: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Garland: My name is Abby Garland. I am a wife and mom to three kids, 2, 3, 6 years old. I have a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and nutrition and a master’s of arts in teaching — post-secondary ed — from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. I am a registered dietitian and have work experience as both a chef and a dietitian in the long-term care facility setting. I have lived all over the country, as well as in Germany for many years growing up. I first visited Poulsbo back in 2007 when my now-husband brought me to Tizley’s Europub for dinner while visiting family in Bremerton. Their German food does not disappoint.

Herald: What motivates you to run?

Garland: I am the mother of a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. I want to set the example for her and other girls, and women, that public office is not out of reach, no dream is too big. Families in Poulsbo need someone on City Council that understands the challenges of raising a family today. I have a young family, so I understand many of those challenges and would be honored to represent them in government. The Poulsbo City Council is mostly older men. Diversity of representation is a good thing and is needed.

Herald: Have you served in public office?”

Garland: No.

Herald: What concerns you most about Poulsbo? What are the issues that you feel need more attention?

Garland: Poulsbo is a wonderful place to live, and our family specifically chose to live here because of its great qualities and its proximity to family who live in Bremerton and the Seattle area. Poulsbo is growing, which is good for many reasons but also creates challenges. Front Street needs more parking to accommodate shoppers and festival goers. There is a lack of available childcare spaces in Poulsbo for working families. And for the many people who commute daily via the Bainbridge Island ferry to Seattle because of the affordability factor, including my husband, the commute continues to get longer and longer. These, as well as others, are issues that I look forward to bringing attention to in City Hall.

Herald: What are your priorities if elected?

Garland: One of my main priorities is to represent the interests of families, and as such I would love to meet regularly with local moms and dads, in a working group of sorts, to gather feedback on the challenges they face, and hear any recommendations they may have on how to better meet the needs of families in our community.

Herald: You’re in a unique position. You must receive more votes than John Bukowsky, who is on the ballot but withdrew his candidacy. If he is the top vote-getter, the position will be considered vacant and the City Council will appoint someone. If you’re not elected in November, will you apply for appointment?

Garland: My desire is to represent all the people of Poulsbo, and especially families, on the City Council. I will definitely consider seeking appointment if I am not elected in November.

Herald: Countywide, 37 candidates for office are running unopposed, and four individuals withdrew their candidacies. Do you think there is a lack of interest in local government, and what would you do to engage residents and boost their involvement?

Garland: I do think there is a lack of interest. It may be the simple fact that some people may not fully understand the role or function of a City Council. My suggestion as a starting point would be to utilize the power of social media to engage the residents of Poulsbo — a Poulsbo City Council Facebook page, for example — where residents and council members could dialogue about concerns, as well as share information, opportunities for participation and involvement, and educational opportunities.