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Election 2007: Dannhauer challenges Bronson

After being entrenched in his position on the Coupeville Town Council for the better part of a decade, Marshall Bronson has some competition in next month’s election.

Local doctor Ann Dannhauer, a proponent of smart planning to manage growth, is looking to unseat him. That is one of the four races that are contested in Coupeville this year.

Bronson is finishing his 10th year on the town council and decided to run again because he enjoys the work. He serves on the town’s utility committee, audits the town’s accounts, and he is known for bringing fresh-baked cookies to the twice-monthly town council meetings.

He has lived in Coupeville for 16 years and owns a bed and breakfast. Prior to coming to Coupeville, he served 31 years in the Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and held a variety of diplomatic posts.

The November election is Dannhauer’s first stab at public office. The general internist, who has lived in Coupeville since 1998, sees several issues looming, such as how to best control growth in town. Since the town is currently developing a shoreline plan, environmental protections, especially preserving trees and water quality, are also important to her.

She would also like to see more safeguards to protect the town’s historic buildings to ensure they stay standing.

While the election nears, work on the town’s shoreline plan continues. Language in the plan allowing construction to extend over Penn Cove for water-enjoyment uses in downtown Coupeville drew criticism from many residents. After meetings with the state Department of Ecology, the town decided to drop that regulation.

Dannhauer said there are strong environmental reasons not to have construction stretch over the water. She said the open spaces between the buildings should be maintained and it would be nice if those spots could be purchased by the town.

Bronson said the town simply decided not to test the overwater construction language, adding that the plan wasn’t designed to favor one particular use.

He said the town approached the owners of the three lots to see if they would sell, but there weren’t any takers. Bronson added the owners should be able to build and it wouldn’t be illogical to have uses that are similar to the neighboring ones that currently stretch over the waterline.

The town is also working on expanding the water system to cover most of Central Whidbey Island.

Bronson defends the expansion of the water system.

“In the long term, it will be a much wiser use of resources,” Bronson said.

Dannhauer questioned how the expanding water system will affect growth outside of town. Having such a water system serving the outside area could indirectly promote growth.

“The main question is what affect that is going to have on growth around the town,” Dannhauer said.

She said she had other concerns, such as saltwater intrusion, about the town’s expansion plans.

Another issue that is still on the minds of some candidates concerns having Nancy Conard serving as both mayor and administrator. Some have said that having one person holding both positions eliminates a system of checks and balances.

Bronson said the town administrator isn’t a check-and-balance position and Conard is the right person to serve the position.

“She’s uniquely qualified,” Bronson said.

Dannhauer disagreed about having Conard serving both positions.

“I think it would be better to have a separation of mayor and administrator,” Dannhauer said.

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