Kenmore Council Position 4 race focuses on transparency and transit

By Lucas Martin

Councilmember Nigel Herbig has been involved in politics ever since signing up with Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign; that apprenticeship in progressivism helped shaped his understanding of what government can do.

Nigel Herbig: Incumbent

“I work in politics because I believe government if done right, should be making all our lives a little bit better,” says Herbig. “We make those collective investments to improve quality of life, and I believe in government’s ability to do that.”

Herbig does double-duty for the state of Washington, serving on Representative Valdez’ team in Olympia and as Deputy Mayor and a councilmember in Kenmore. He believes his day job in the statehouse contributes to effective council decisions back on the Northshore, and that he’s “able to bring some expertise to the city council about what’s happening in Olympia.” That insight into statewide planning contributes to what Herbig considers a reliable record of accomplished promises.

“When I first ran for council, I ran on issues like building more sidewalks, making government more transparent, and I’ve delivered on those,” Herbig says. “We’ve built more than three miles of new sidewalk in the past few years, we have three miles being constructed right now on Juanita and 68th.”

But being a council member isn’t all sidewalks and bike lanes. Herbig is passionate when speaking on transparency, explaining how “I got a camera installed in our council chambers so folks can watch what we’re doing, which might not be the most exciting thing, but I think it’s important. It’s good for us to see that camera in the back of the room and know who could be watching because we need to remember who we work for and who we’re making decisions for.”

Asked about his opponent, the councilmember offers concise praise.

“Bob is someone who’s been very involved in the community, I respect him, and I look forward to hearing what he’s campaigning on,” he says. “I’ve nothing but respect for Bob.”

Considering the work to be done if he’s reelected, Herbig begins speaking in the long term.

“I want to continue our heavy investment in allowing folks to walk around our city. We were only incorporated 23 years ago, and King County frankly ignored us, and we have a lot of ground to make up when it comes to getting the city safe for folks who aren’t in a car, and it’s something we’ll need to work on for frankly decades.”

Bob Black: Challenger

Bob Black has lived in King County for more than 70 years and in Kenmore for more than 30, and he’s concerned the current city council doesn’t have a responsible plan for managing the city’s resources and growth. Rather than an interview, Mr. Black provided written responses to questions from Northshore News.

“I am a retired individual with a great deal of experience in many fields as a worker, manager, supervisor, owner and director,” writes Black, clarifying that these positions “all [come] with their own skillsets.”

Black hopes to apply these various skillsets as a councilmember, and believes his time living on the Northshore provides a certain insight, explaining how he “has kept his eyes open to what’s happening around the area.” From his perspective, “Kenmore has no blueprint for the future [and] the council needs to develop a viable vision for the future to make Kenmore more than a congested bus stop between cities without destroying businesses.”

“It is clear Kenmore citizens want a transparent city council who responds to their concerns and needs of the city, to be proactive, not reactive. A government that prioritizes tax-spending, lives within its means while providing safe infrastructures, reduces traffic [and] congestion and makes Kenmore a safe walkable and drivable city. Kenmore needs leadership that uses the resources that they have wisely and puts a halt to new and increased fees and taxes.”

Transit and transparency have been major concerns for many 2021 council candidates, and Black is no different, but he places particular importance on the city’s fiscal commitments and how they relate to infrastructure.

“The top priority is to make Kenmore a livable and vibrant community, to make the city council more transparent and fiscally responsible,” Black writes, continuing that Kenmore needs to “make roads usable and safe without destroying the much-needed traffic flow. There needs to be a stop to making roads more congested, and less high-density construction in an already congested area.”

Black doesn’t think Councilmember Herbig is the major player behind some of the projects the councilmember claims, writing that “I am concerned when someone takes claim for others’ work,” before continuing, “making Kenmore walkable with the implementation of sidewalks is an item that has been worked on for more than the last eight years [and] claiming one individual is to garner credit for implementing sidewalks is false. It is apparent that the mindset is to make Kenmore a clone of Seattle.”

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