Key Peninsula resident Bruce Cook is seeking election to the Key Pen Parks District Board of Commissioners, Position 1.
Cook has been on the Key Peninsula since 2013, and currently resides in Lakebay. He previously lived in Austin, Texas, where he worked in investment management for the University of Texas. While working for the college, Cook received his doctorate from UT Austin with a dissertation on college fundraising.
Sometime after graduating, Cook received an email of property listings from a Gig Harbor area realtor who had attended one of Cook’s financial seminars. One property in particular stood out to Cook and his wife, who had already vacationed in the area, and three months later they moved to the Key Peninsula. Cook continues to operate a consulting service that he has owned since 2000.
In addition to his work in finance, consulting and education, Cook has served on the boards of directors for around 20 nonprofits over the years. These organizations include Serving Our Neighbors, the Indigenous Peoples Foundation, WorkLife and Junior Achievement. Cook has also published four books on finance and spiritual matters, and is an ordained minister who is active in local and national communities of faith.
A social connection led Cook to attend a Key Pen Parks board meeting, after which he realized his skills could be put to use. “I thought it would be a good fit for my background, my interests,” he said. “Here on the Key Peninsula, we have such beautiful natural resources; I’m interested in seeing that preserved and managed well for the benefit of the local citizens.”
“One of the biggest challenges is to maintain close cordial relationships with the community..."
Cook’s vision for the parks includes an increased focus on informing parkgoers about the natural spaces around them. “I’d like to see an educational component added into the mix of what the park is offering to the local residents,” he said. He envisions additional interpretive signs and potentially a classroom space or display area dedicated to the local flora and fauna.
If elected, Cook sees his role in Key Pen Parks as helping to manage the department’s limited resources. While describing the scope of the park system, Cook said the district has over 1,000 acres of land under management and fewer than a dozen full-time employees and under $2 million annually to manage it.
“It’s not a huge budget, it’s not a lot of money to try and manage a parks system here on the Key Peninsula,” he said.
Another of Cook’s priorities is to keep Key Pen Parks connected with their users to improve their park experience and increase sustainability.
“One of the biggest challenges is to maintain close cordial relationships with the community and community groups,” he said, citing volunteers and local donors as essential to ensuring the parks operate within their means.
Cook said serving on the parks board would be a chance for him to put his finance and leadership experience to good local use. “It’s a chance to serve and give back, and I think parks are an important part of any community.”
While Cook is enthusiastic about bringing his skills to Key Pen Parks, he said the district is doing very well—specifically praising the recent Fourth of July Hot Dog Social at Gateway Park that was attended by almost 1,000 people. “I think the parks are being well utilized and well managed.”
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