Filing week yields two more South Whidbey races: parks and city council

The close of filing week has revealed two additional races, one for Langley City Council and another on the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District board.

Bill Nesbeitt, 77, filed for position 2 on the council Friday afternoon. He is challenging incumbent Dominique Emerson, 66, for the seat. Similarly, Bigi Giese filed Friday afternoon against parks district incumbent Matt Simms. Both are seeking position 5 on the board of commissioners.

For the Langley race, Nesbeitt has a professional background as a civil engineer and moved to the city from Bellevue about two and one-half years ago. He serves on Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ board of directors, and fundraises for the South Whidbey Mardi Unit of Ryther Child Center.

Nesbeitt says he’s “very” fond of the community and feels compelled to serve.

“I feel it’s my responsibility,” he said.

Nesbeitt says he isn’t running on any single issue and that he won’t be a “red ant or hornet” on the council. The position is nonpartisan, and council members should strive to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money and to provide the service they deserve, he said.

Emerson, who was appointed to the seat in January, 2015, is retired but was in the computer business and had a consulting firm. Before her appointment, she volunteered on the Langley Planning and Advisory Board, including as chairwoman. She said it was good experience, especially for those seeking a council seat.

“I think it’s essential to spend some time there, to learn about the city and the different issues that come up,” Emerson said.

If elected, she wants to create a set of action items associated with goals outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan. Such a list would better ensure goals like walkability are incorporated into future road projects.

She also hopes to get all homes in Langley hooked into the sewer system, saying it will create operational efficiencies, bring down the cost of service overall and raise property values by increasing zoning densities. Also, the financial burden should be born by the entire city rather than just the individual neighborhoods or homes that want connect, she said.

Finally, Emerson is interested in making Langley more affordable, and partnering with the Port of South Whidbey to make the marina a destination and the fairgrounds a success.

Langley has two other races as well. Burt Beusch and Christy Korrow, both planning advisory board members, are seeking position 1; and Peter Morton is challenging incumbent Thomas Gill for position 5.

City council positions are nonpartisan and carry four-year terms.

Another new race to come out of filing week, May 15-19, is between Giese and Simms at the parks district.

Giese, 47, lives in Freeland and moved to Whidbey about one year ago from Jacksonville, Florida. Her professional background is in running gymnastic, springboard diving and swim clubs, a role she’s performed in several states. A former gymnast and diver herself, she was also an assistant to the director of artistic gymnastics programs and as assistant director to the director of rhythmic gymnastics in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She was also an even staff member for USA Gymnastics from 1999-2005, and owner of Sportastiks Gymnastics in Indiana from 2008-2012.

Giese currently volunteers with her homeowners association in Holmes Harbor as vice president.

Giese said she’s highly interested in the public pool discussion, and wants to be a part of it. She said South Whidbey needs a public pool that everyone can afford.

Giese said she hopes to be able to serve as an elected official, but if not she’d still be happy to volunteer.

“I’m just hoping to make a difference, whether I’m elected or not,” she said.

Simms, 48, was appointed to the seat in 2005 and has served as the position 5 commissioner ever since but for one year; he’s a reservist and was called away to serve in Iraq.

The Langley resident is a business development manager, and said he’ll serve as a parks commissioner as long as the public will have him.

“It’s a chance to serve the community in a way I consider meaningful,” he said. “The parks are accessed and used by vast array of people, young and old.”

Simms is proud of the work he’s done with the district’s comprehensive plan, master plan and as board treasurer. He helped update the financial system, and was a steward during several projects, from adding drainage infrastructure and facilities at the soccer fields on Langley Road to rebuilding the playground and adding a skate park and pump track at community park.

This is the first time he’s run opposed, but Simms says he’s not concerned about a contentious race. Bids for park district seats are mellow affairs, and his is a more the merrier philosophy, he said.

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