Markley stresses stability, transparency in mayoral run

Posted on October 27th, 2021 By:

Tracie Markley has lived in Gig Harbor, for the most part, since she was 6 years old. She was elected to the City Council in 2019 and filed to run for mayor in February before Kit Kuhn announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.

“I wasn’t happy about all the staff complaints and concerns and I don’t want the city to get any worse,” she said. “At first, I didn’t want to put myself in the heart of the mess, but then I decided that I wanted to try to bring stability and transparency to the city. I want us to be open and honest with our staff and with our constituents and I want them to be part of the public process.”

teracie Markley

Tracie Markley

“There’s a lot of healing to be done to get the community reconnected again, and to make the city staff feel reconnected and rejuvenated,” she said. “How do you do that? One way is to bring back respect to the mayor’s office. I think the staff wants someone to really listen to their concerns and citizens want to know that the mayor is very approachable. I’ve been having coffee with people in the community regularly since I filed in May, and I think I have a sense of what’s important.”

There’s going to be a lot going on after the first of the year, she said, adding that one of her priorities is to have a full staff to do all of the work.

“Gig Harbor has had a lot of negative press, and I want us to change all that,”she said. “I want Gig Harbor to have so many people wanting to work here that we’re turning people away at the door. This is such a gem of a community, and I want our staff to be happy and to stay here.”

Another of her priorities is to increase transparency. She has ideas for a new software program that could make it easier for the public to get answers from city staff — “to have a dialog, a two-way conversation.”

If she’s elected, Markley plans to continue with Facebook Q&As, started by Kuhn. She also might try a mayor’s podcast, she said, “with guests and different people who come and get to know each other.” Also, perhaps regular after-hours gatherings at which the public can “mingle with City Council members and city staff. Maybe something like a once-a-month get-together Friday afternoons after work.”

Markley said her strongest skills are being a good listener and “being good at reading people, especially those who are upset. I can listen to the hurt and frustration and calm them down,” she said. “I’m very skilled at defusing things. Sometimes you just sit and take it, and then you ask, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on in your world?’ and then we can have a better, stronger connection.

“I truly care about everyone in our town — from the homeless people camped along the Cushman Trail to the people in the big mansions. I’ll represent everyone,” she said. “I won’t prejudge people. I want to be a bridge builder, not a wall builder.”

Markley has already established good relationships with the state legislators who represent Gig Harbor, she said.

Asked why she thought there were no other candidates for mayor earlier, she said she was “totally shocked when John Skansi quit the mayor’s race. And I had heard that there were a couple of others who were thinking of running. I thought that after the last four years that there would be a lot of people who would want to come in and try to fix things. But I think it takes a special kind of person who wants to be a servant leader.”

She sees the main challenges facing Gig Harbor as infrastructure, including the traffic on Highway 16 that causes so much pressure on the downtown streets, helping the local business community recover from the difficulties caused by COVID and “repairing the disconnections and restoring our sense of community.”

Her first priorities are to hire a strong city administrator and to focus on “letting the staff know that we get better starting today. I’ll be coming in with 100 percent trust and I want us all to take a deep breath so I can feel the pulse of the staff and help them come down from the chaos and have a fresh start,” she said. She plans to “surround herself with good people. I’m not in this for the money or for the prestige of the job. I’m in it for my love of my community.”