Arbenz ready to go as newest member of Gig Harbor City Council

Government: Lawyer who ran unopposed has been studying city issues to prepare for his role

of the GatewayNovember 27, 2013 

Casey Arbenz will be the new kid on the Gig Harbor City Council, but he’s been prepping so he can jump right in.

Arbenz ran unopposed in November’s general election. He’ll fill the seat vacated by Derek Young, who was honored for his 16 years of service prior to Monday’s meeting.

This will be Arbenz’s first time on the council, and he’s excited for the opportunity.

Arbenz said he’ll aim aiming to be reasonable, neighborly and decisive. He was surprised — and a little disappointed — that he wasn’t challenged for the seat. He spent the time from when he filed to the election attending meetings, getting out in the community and preparing himself on city issues.

“I don’t want anyone to think I just slid into this position,” he said.

Arbenz, a lawyer, has lived in Gig Harbor for five years. When his wife got a job right out of Gonzaga University’s Law School, where they met, the couple “by luck” rented a home in Gig Harbor, he said. They immediately fell in love with the town.

“I like this town,” he said. “I think it’s the most aesthetically pleasing and beautiful town I’ve ever seen.”

Arbenz practices civil and criminal litigation at The Hester Law Group. His wife also is a lawyer with Kampbell, Andrews and Arbenz.

Arbenz is a former president of the Young Lawyers Section of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. He currently sits on the board for the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Foundation.

Working for the Inns of Court, before he was elected to the city council, he did pro bono legal representation.

One of the unique things Arbenz will bring to the council is his experience with working across the United States. He grew up in the San Diego suburbs, went to Chico State University, earned a master’s degree in communication at California State-Fullerton and graduated from Gonzaga in 2008. He was an instructor at Kansas State University, where he coached debate at both college and high school levels.

Arbenz speaks carefully, and he chooses his words to make his point.

Coaching debate took him all over the Midwest, from Kansas to Iowa to Illinois and places in between. He saw shuttered up downtowns, something he never wants to see in Gig Harbor.

Arbenz sees Gig Harbor’s downtown as unique, a place people want to be.

He likes to stay active and is happy to live in a place with trails, water and scenery. He gets up three days a week at 6:30 a.m. during the summers, starting in April, to swim in Crescent Lake. It’s part of triathlon training — Arbenz competed in five last summer.

So far in the past two years, he’s run 10 triathlons all over Washington state. He also plays on basketball team with other lawyers and judges.

Arbenz and his wife enjoy taking their German shepherd, Maverick, out for runs and walks. Maverick is 3 1/2 and loves walks downtown, he said.

“Gig Harbor is the ultimate place to own a dog,” Arbenz said.

He knows the maturation process on the council will take time. Being part of city government is time-consuming work that needs to be taken seriously, he said.

Young and Arbenz have talked about transitions to and from the council.

“He’s always been an email away,” said Arbenz, who added the other council members also have been helpful as he gets up to speed.

“We have nothing but professionals on our council,” he said.

The most important thing to him is being a good neighbor and council member. After all, he’s a Gig Harbor resident, too.

“At the end of the day, we’re all neighbors,” he said. “My job is to represent (citizens) as their neighbor.”

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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