Lester won’t seek reelection to City Council

20091103-222517-pic-898493243_t120Bainbridge City Councilwoman Debbi Lester will not seek reelection, the Central Ward representative announced Wednesday.

Lester’s announcement leaves three positions on the council up for grabs this year. Kirsten Hytopoulos and Bob Scales also have terms expiring at the end of the year and have said they will not seek reelection. Candidate filing week is May 13-17.

Lester joined the council in 2010. She served as mayor last year.

In an email Wednesday, Lester said she decided to step aside to encourage new voices on the council. She said the city has reached “an incredible moment,” with the hiring of Manager Doug Schulze, new police chief Matthew Hamner, and a number of projects and policy revisions coming to fruition.

You can read Lester’s full letter below:

It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that I will not seek re-election. Having taken the time to listen to family, friends, colleagues, and constituents, and although many encouraged me to run again, my family and I agree it would be best to step aside now and encourage new candidates to come forward, add their voice to the community conversation, and offer to serve as new community leaders on City Council.

This and previous City Councils have weathered many challenges and are now on a positive course with the change of our form of government and a solid financial footing.

We are at an incredible moment with 25-year-experienced City Manager Doug Schulze, new Police Chief Hamner, greater financial stability, and the beginnings of substantial organizational improvements. During my term, through the City Council’s diligent efforts, a tremendous amount of work has and will be completed as well as many challenging policy issues are being resolved: Winslow Way Reconstruction Project, City Hall Solar Panels, Waterfront Park Community Center Renovation, The Waypoint, Land Use Code Update, Ericksen Overlay District Design Guidelines, Shoreline Master Program Update, Tree Ordinance, Housing Development Demonstration Project, Water Utility Management, and Comprehensive Plan Updates.

The next City Council has many creative and collaborative opportunities ahead of it—continuing to improve our motorized (roads) and active transportation infrastructure (bike lanes, sidewalks, trails), and returning to making investments for all aspects of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

In my opinion, we must bring back our community broadcasting, improve local business infrastructure (cell and broadband service), make economic investments in the cultural elements, encourage a diversity of housing, continue disaster preparedness efforts, and facilitate a community-driven Waterfront Park design. These and other projects await the next City Council. It is my hope that new candidates will step forward to embrace these opportunities and participate in our uniquely local blend of political leadership and collaboration.

My awesome grandson, fabulous husband and family, and my 21-year-old publication, Art Access, will now be given more of my care and time. I certainly intend though to continue to contribute to our community and look forward to working with you side by side to make this the best city and place to call home in Washington State.

It has been and is an honor and great privilege to work with you and serve on your behalf.

Respectfully yours,
Debbi Lester
Central Ward
City Council Member