PORT ORCHARD — With slightly more than 22% of registered Kitsap County voters turning in their ballots by 8 p.m. Tuesday night, this off-year election, while lacking in political fireworks typically seen during presidential years, nonetheless decided what candidates they wanted to be elected to office, reelected and, in some cases, involuntarily booted from public office.
Kitsap County Election Division officials estimate that when all the election ballots are counted over the next week, about 40% of registered voters will have cast their ballots in the general election.
Many of the candidates running for port commissioner, city council, school board, fire and rescue commissioner and water district seats ran unopposed this election cycle.
If there was a marquee electoral race in South Kitsap, it likely was the race to become District 2 commissioner for the Port of Bremerton. Candidates Gary Anderson and Jack Edwards led spirited campaigns through the summer and fall to replace retiring Commissioner Larry Stokes. In election-night results Tuesday night, Anderson led Edwards by a 53.2% to 46% margin with a vote tally of 6,659 for Anderson and 5,759 for Edwards.
Anderson, who owns and operates a commercial and residential real estate company, also has served on the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and the Fast Ferry Task Force. His losing opponent, Edwards, is the former economic development manager for the City of Bremerton.
The newly elected port commissioner said he was a little taken aback by the voting returns as he joined supporters at an election watch party at The Dock Eatery in Port Orchard.
“Everybody worked hard to support the campaign,” Anderson said after hearing the initial election results. “Support came from family, friends, community members and the elected officials who endorsed me.”
Anderson said he will take the next few months to get acquainted with the responsibilities he will assume as port commissioner.
Port Orchard Mayor Rob Putaansuu, who endorsed Anderson and also attended the watch party, said he looks forward to working closely with the commissioner-elect.
“I’ve known Gary a long time and know he will be a strong partner with the city,” Putaansuu said.
In the contest to become a South Kitsap School District 5 member of the board of directors, challenger and school district critic Jeff Daily edged two-term incumbent Greg Wall by a 53.1% to 46.1% margin, with 4,780 votes for Daily and 4,144 for Wall. During the campaign, Daily advocated for an alternative plan to modernize and expand the existing South Kitsap High School building. Wall and his fellow board members endorsed plans over the past three years to build a second high school in the school district. Voters failed to pass bond measures that would have funded building a new campus in Port Orchard.
A current director seeking election to the South Kitsap school board comfortably won his race. Eric Gattenby, who earlier was appointed to his District 1 seat following Seward Stevens’ resignation in May 2018, won election by defeating opponent Keith Law by a 54.8% to 44.4% margin, or 4,848 votes to 3,929.
In the SKSD District 2 director race, John Berg easily topped Glenny Compton by a 57.8% to 41.4% margin, or 5,156 votes to 3,693.
Three of the four Port Orchard City Council seats up for election featured incumbents who were unopposed this year. Councilmembers Shawn Cucciardi, Cindy Lucarelli and Jay Rosapepe were reelected without opponents. Longtime City Council member John Clauson was re-elected to another term in office, outlasting his opponent, Cody Morgan, by a wide 71.1% to 27.9% margin, or 1,043 votes to 410.
Morgan, a partner in the Peninsula BevCo restaurant and taproom in downtown Port Orchard, didn’t campaign after filing to run for the seat. He later said that new business obligations prevented him from engaging in the race.