LETTER | Who will be the STRONGEST weak mayor?

Dear Editor:

The other day I was informed that the Kirkland City Council does not historically accept, desire or appreciate outside influence or input in their deliberations regarding who will be the next mayor.

With that admonishment firmly in mind, here are my thoughts on who should be our next mayor.

Kirkland’s form of government is a council/manager or ‘weak mayor’ style. The newly elected council appoints the mayor from among its ranks for a two year term as its first order of business of the new year – January 3rd.

As Joan McBride winds down her largely uneventful term as Kirkland’s mayor – and since she would never be so self-centered, egotistical or selfish as to hog another term for herself rather than pass the ceremonial baton - let’s look at the six options to fill her sensible shoes.

Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet

Pros: Proven, engaged, involved. Moving her vision into a regional focus rather than solely Kirkland-centric, Sweet would be a solid choice as mayor.  In the coming 24 months we’ll need to replace the small and large businesses that have fallen during the recession.  We’ll need a cheerleader for Kirkland and a businessperson with a solid foundation.

Cons: As a businessperson, Sweet must keep a large number of plates spinning – can she do it all in a 24 hour day?

Councilman Robert Sternoff

Pros: The one member of the council with solid regional government ties.  Sternoff weathered attacks by a small number of loud people with class. Speaks fluent development, after two decades of stagnation. Strong education and deep business experience. Would be taken seriously by regional, county and state officials.

Cons: The yipping little dogs will never stop nipping at his heels.

Councilwoman Doreen Marchione

Pros: Unquestionably the current grande dame of Kirkland politics, Marchione brings decades of experience to the council.  A good ear as well as a solid voice, Marchione’s bearing earns the respect that is her due.

Cons: Ours is a broad geographic city with calls for the mayor to do many things and be many places.  In short, Marchione might tire of the schedule before she tires of the office.

Councilman David Asher

Pros: Asher was able to build a solid and effective ‘Group of Four’ around his leadership to accomplish many things in his first two terms. Agree or disagree with his efforts, Asher got things done. He understands the down and dirty nuances of politics.

Cons: He is the last of The Group. Without a consensus, everything else is moot.

Councilwoman Amy Walen

Pros: Educated, charming, articulate.  Capable of seeing the big picture and trained in linear thinking.  During her first two years on the council, Walen quietly educated herself in the ways of city government and the means by which objectives are accomplished.

Cons: Her position in one of Kirkland’s largest employers begs the question “How many hours a day can one person work?”

Councilman Toby Nixon

Pros: Has climbed the learning curve of government but still has the humility to ask “How do I do this, where do I go for that?” Respected by colleagues and opponents, Nixon can use his experience to further Kirkland’s agenda in state government. Can recite chapter and verse of many RCW’s

Cons: Freshman councilman. Come see us in two years.

What do you think?


John Michael Gilday