Brunkow appointed to council
Airport commission member Bob Brunkow has been appointed to fill the vacancy on city council left by the October 4 death of mayor Dieter Schugt.
Brunkow was one of two applicants for the position but the only one to show up at the October 18. Local karate instructor Thomas Drake also applied, but was not present for council to interview.
Brunkow said a commitment to community service and a feeling he could be a valuable addition to Blaine’s governing team drew him to apply for the position. “I think the current council is moving in the right direction,” he said. “They’re running on all eight cylinders and I’ve seen it not work that way.”
After running ICOM America for 27 years Brunkow bought the Canadian division of the Japanese communications company and moved to Blaine from Mercer Island to be close to his business. “I liked the area and I like small towns,” the Semiahmoo resident said.
Soon after moving to Blaine in 1999 Brunkow was appointed to the airport commission. “I felt the airport could be an important asset in Blaine’s future,” he said. Brunkow is a private pilot who volunteers for the Angel Flight program that flies patients and their families free of charge to non-urgent medical treatment. “We take patients and families typically from rural areas to areas where there are medical facilities,” he said. For example, he said, they might pick up the parent of a Point Roberts child injured at the Blaine school and take them to meet up with their child in Bellingham.
Despite his involvement with aviation Brunkow said that he was not seeking a spot on council to push expanding the airport. “We’ve got to make the best use of that asset as a marketing tool for Blaine,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean expanding.” Brunkow said minor improvements, like removing trees that intrude into flight space, can draw more pilots to the airport, which is already inviting for recreational pilots due to its proximity to a shopping center. “My vision is to make the airport more friendly,” he said. “Maybe it’ll make a good impact and they’ll decide to live and start a business here. I saw that happen with the airport in Friday Harbor.”
How council works was more of a motivation for Brunkow to join their ranks than what they work on. “I don’t have any specific agenda or direction,” he said. “Working with a Japanese corporation you learn a lot about consensus building and that seems to be the direction council is going,” he said. “You have to lead, not direct.” He added he had ample background outside a business model working with community groups such as Seattle SeaFair and Eastside Transportation.
Brunkow said he will bring to council some skills that will help them meet financial challenges facing the city. “I have a strong background in working with budgets and I think I can ask some good questions to help in the process,” he said. Brunkow has an MBA from Seattle University and Cal Tech in finance and strategic planning.
As with the airport, Brunkow said the key to the city’s success was friendliness – making the town a welcoming place to move, to visit, to start a business. “Our challenges are revenue based,” he said. “We have to do everything we can to encourage businesses not only to locate here but to successfully locate here.”
Mayor pro tem John Liebert said he was happy with the new addition. “Bob has a great background for the issues facing Blaine at this time,” he said. “He has demonstrated his commitment to the community through his service on the airport commission and in many other ways. We have a great city council and Bob will only make us better.”
Brunkow will be sworn in at the October 25, 2004 meeting of the Blaine city council when council will also select a new mayor and mayor pro tem.