On Monday, June 6, 2011, Kingsgate resident Jason Gardiner filed to challenge incumbent Kirkland City Councilmember Bob Sternoff for position #2. Earlier in the day, Sternoff himself had filed with the county for his reelection bid.
We sat down with Gardiner within hours of his filing, to ask him a few questions about his decision to run for Kirkland City Council.
Why are you running for council?
"Now with annexation, I want to give representation to this area, this half of Kirkland. Let's get a voice on the council and get our voice heard. I've been thinking about running for an office for a while now. Being in unincorporated King County, the King County Board I think was really a little out of my depth. When we were annexed by Kirkland, I thought this was an opportunity for me to wet my feet and get into the system."
What experience relevant to City Council do you have that would be helpful for voters to know?
"I've done a lot of things in my life and I have a breadth of experience ranging from being a mechanical engineer in the Navy to being a computer wide-area network architect where I've negotiated multi-million dollar deals with vendors."
Were you in favor or against annexation?
"I was actually against annexation. Kirkland brought a lot of debt into the merger and some of the numbers they were manipulating around to make it look like it would be a good deal. I've seen a lot of number manipulations in budgets and I don't want to see that happen." Gardiner says he has noticed that many of the services such as police force levels proposed for the annexation areas have now been cut from higher levels. "Reading over the budget numbers and watching the police force get chopped even before we were annexed and watching the city cut back on their planned service levels has been of great concern. I want to make sure services are kept on par for all of Kirkland."
Born and raised in Utah, Gardiner joined the Navy at age 18. He moved to Kingsgate in 2005 to raise a family after a time in Silicon Valley. He has been a volunteer with inner city kids taking them on outings such as rafting.
Gardiner first met his opponent, Councilmember Bob Sternoff, when they attended the Kirkland Citizens Police Academy together a few years ago. "We have a really good police department. I respect them a lot."
Gardiner noted that he believes Kirkland should follow the lead of Redmond which recently installed three new red-light cameras safety cameras.
He is in favor of red-light cameras for three reasons: Increased revenue, increased safety and the cameras can free up police officers to patrol other important areas.
Where in Kirkland would you think red-light cameras may be appropriate?
"At the intersection at the top of the hill above Trader Joes, near Evergreen Hospital. It is No Turn on Red in all directions for the safety of the busses but people are blowing through that intersection all the time." Another location for red-light cameras could be the intersection of Market Street and Forbes Creek. "People blow that red light straight because they don't realize it's a red light half the time. If you're in the crosswalk or if you're turning, it is dangerous because people just don't see it."
What do you want to accomplish on the council?
"I want a smooth transition for annexation. This is going to be a volatile time. Some of the other annexations Kirkland's had, they've been small. Kirkland has always been the bigger fish eating the smaller fish. Now we're kind of the same size fish. We're doubling in size.
"I want to make myself available to the public as much as possible. They can email me or call me up. I want to be an open door candidate. I want to bring an everyday guy view onto the council."
You can visit Jason Gardiner's website at http://gardiner4kcc2.com