Thomas ‘humbled’ by appointment to Poulsbo City Council

After three hours of interviews, the Poulsbo City Council voted unanimously to select Kenneth Thomas to complete the term vacated by Linda Berry-Maraist, Jan. 28.

POULSBO — After three hours of interviews, the Poulsbo City Council voted unanimously to select Kenneth Thomas to complete the term vacated by Linda Berry-Maraist, Jan. 28.

“I feel humbled,” Thomas said shortly after the council chose him from a field of four candidates. “I feel that the council is willing put their trust in me to work alongside them.”

Thomas will be sworn in at the Feb. 4 council meeting. Council members are elected to four-year terms; approve city laws, policies, and the annual budget; and represent the city on local and regional committees. Council members receive $6,000 a year.

Thomas retired from the Navy in the 1990s, before serving in the reserves, worked in private industry for government functions, and finished his career as a school teacher. He moved to the Poulsbo area to live full-time in 2012. He lives in the Deer Run neighborhood. Thomas’ application notes his experience with land use; he served as a city council member in Goodyear, Arizona, in the 1970s.

The council was charged with the task of selecting a Position 1 council member after Berry-Maraist stepped down in January to devote more time to her family and community involvements. The term ends this year. Thomas said he will run in November for a full four-year term.

For now, Thomas said that he will concentrate on getting acquainted with City Hall.

“I don’t have any particular project or issue to jump in on,” he said. “Right now, I want to work on integrating myself into the council and getting familiar with the information flow that is part of the decision process.”

Thomas noted he will begin on all that after addressing some more critical business — watching the Seahawks play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.

Thomas was frank, but polite, in his interview. When asked about his biggest mistake on a job, he recalled an incident with a subordinate who had a substance abuse problem. In hindsight, he said, he should have addressed the problem more quickly and watched for the signs. It’s a lesson in dealing with problems on the job, he said.

“I would definitely listen to people in an organization,” Thomas said. “When there are problems, people are hesitant to come out and tell you what it is. I would want to probe further and find out what the problem is. Sometimes you have to take the next step.”

Thomas also recalled his experience as a council member in Arizona. He said building consensus is important on a council, and that you can’t hold grudges over differences of opinion.

“There are times when you have to take a stand with your view,” he said. “But once that is done, you move on.”

Many of the council’s questions involved the growth Poulsbo is facing. Thomas responded by saying that controlled growth with a focus on Poulsbo’s environment is key to maintaining its personality.

“I think that the preservation of the natural environment of our city is important,” Thomas said. “We sit in a pristine area. Anything the city can do to maintain that is important.

“It’s important because I bring experience of world travel. I have lived all over the world. I’ve seen port cities, along the waterfront. Some of them are beautiful jewels that have been ruined because not enough attention was paid to the environment, especially the health of the water.

“I think Poulsbo will maintain its personality by maintaining a fairly compact-size community.”

Another theme of the council’s questions centered on how to manage the city’s budget in light of declining revenues and rising demand for services.

“A lot of organization will do an across-the-board cut, which seems fair,” Thomas said, noting that it is not fair in the end. He prefers knowing what is essential before budgeting, then cutting the least essential.

In closing, Thomas said he has a passion for the city.

“I’m a person that has chosen Poulsbo. I wasn’t born here. I wasn’t raised here,” he said. “I chose this town out of every place in the world to live the rest of my life … When you have lived other places, you see what a jewel this place is.”

The other applicants interviewed Jan. 28: Boone Eidsmoe, 18, an employee at Dahlquist Fine Jewelry and the youngest member of the Poulsbo Lions Club; Hunter McIntosh, managing director of The Boat Company, which does environmental education tours of Alaska; and Shane Skelley, owner of Skelley Works and a Poulsbo planning commissioner.