This is the eighth and final installment of an ongoing series featuring Gig Harbor candidates running for Peninsula School Board, Gig Harbor City Council, mayor of Gig Harbor and Parks Commissioners for both Peninsula Metropolitan and Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park Districts in the Nov. 7 general election.
All candidates were invited to participate in this question-and-answer series. All were asked the same four questions and to provide a biography.
Kip Clinton — Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District Commissioner 5 candidate
My folks got our beach place near Home 57 years ago, where I’ve lived since 1972. I graduated from University of Washington (B.S. Zoology) and attended University of Puget Sound’s law school for two years. I worked in the Department of Ecology’s SEPA/permit review division where I helped write an early Puyallup Valley lahar report and assisted in defeating the Northern Tier Pipeline. Since then I have been at Clinton’s Music House, an old, family-run piano store.
In the mid-1990s, the county and state proposed several park projects on the Key Peninsula, and that started my involvement with the Key Peninsula park districts. I was appointed to Key Peninsula Park and Recreation District and was one of the initial commissioners elected to its successor, Key Pen Parks, in 2004, re-elected in 2005 and 2011 and hope to be again.
Q: What qualifies you to run for the Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District?
A: My passion for nature and my concern for equity for the citizens of the Key Peninsula regarding recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat preservation and Key Peninsula’s environment. I became a park commissioner because the county had promised parks to the citizens of the Key Peninsula and failed to fulfill that promise.
As a Key Pen Park commissioner I have helped write and promote several successful grant applications which have preserved open space, wildlife habitat and expand public recreational opportunities. I am not afraid to advocate for the Key Peninsula wherever and whenever necessary.
Q: What do you see as some of the biggest issues facing the district?
A: Key Pen Parks has been very conservative when budgeting, which allowed it to continue with its Park System Plan during the recession; this has allowed Key Pen Parks to increase its capital fund and take advantage of grant opportunities. Building Gateway Park will draw down this capital fund making Key Pen Parks more vulnerable to another recession.
I also am concerned about possible mission creep, where park districts substitute for social service agencies; I believe Key Pen Parks should be primarily a facilities provider. I expect the Park District to continue strategic acquisitions for future developed and habitat park sites; finding appropriate parcels will only become more difficult and more expensive with time.
Q: As Gig Harbor and Pierce County grapples with how to handle population growth, what issue most concerns you?
A: I have grave concerns about Pierce County’s planning department’s ability to prevent the human population from exceeding the carrying capacity of the Key Peninsula. The Key Peninsula is essentially an island surrounded by salt water; all of our drinking water and in-stream flow comes from the fall, winter and spring rains. Having lived through one real dry-well drought on the Key Peninsula, I am very concerned about draw down of our aquifers from unrestricted well drilling. I believe that land use agencies have not sufficiently considered ground water availability before issuing building permits in areas not served by municipal water systems; the Washington State Supreme Court’s Hirst Decision has changed that.
Q: If you are elected, what are some of the goals you plan to work on?
A: I want Gateway Park to become the regional facility the old and current Key Peninsula park districts envision. I support the Key Pen Parks’ Park System Comprehensive Plan 2014-2019 and will continue to seek fiscally responsible ways to expand recreational opportunities for all user groups based upon it.
I wish to serve long enough to see Pierce County extend the Cushman Trail to the Key Peninsula (and beyond).
Finally, I hope to see Pierce County work with Key Pen Parks and other stakeholders to create an interconnected trail network from Key Pen Parks’ Gateway Park to Pierce County’s Devils Head Property at the Key Peninsula’s southern tip.
RoxAnne Simon — Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District Commissioner 5 candidate
Candidate did not respond to interview requests.