Two candidates are vying for Bremerton’s open port commissioner position in this year’s Kitsap County election.
Jack Edwards and Gary Anderson are running to represent Port of Bremerton District 2 as its commissioner, a position with a six-year term that will start in 2020. District 2 covers downtown Port Orchard and portions of eastern South Kitsap. The elected candidate will replace former commissioner Larry Stokes, who is not seeking re-election after serving in that role since 2014.
“I understand the process, I’ve chaired boards and sat on committees through a good part of my professional life,” Anderson said. “It’s something I’m familiar with and know how to do, and I think all of those things put together, help make me a good candidate for this job.”
“For me, the interest of the taxpayer will come first, and we need to make sure they get the best return on their investment,” Edwards said. “With that, I hope to earn your vote.”
Edwards was formerly the economic development manager for the City of Bremerton. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from California State University-Long Beach in 1993. Edwards is involved with numerous community services, such as serving as president of the board for the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce and president of Kitsap Athletic Roundtable.
Edwards also is vice president of Visit Kitsap, a board member of Bremerton Motorsports Park, a member of the Port Orchard and Silverdale Chambers of Commerce, and is a founding member of the Harbor Festival.
“After all these accomplishments, running for office was the next natural progression,” Edwards said. “Now I want to use my experience to serve the interests of the Port’s taxpayers and businesses. With my love for economic development, this position will allow me to seek ways to develop the Port’s assets and create jobs.”
Anderson is a lifelong Kitsap County resident, graduating from South Kitsap High School, Olympic College and Central Washington University. He has more than 30 years of experience operating and managing commercial and residential real estate companies. In 2010, he established the G. Anderson Group, a real estate agency in Port Orchard.
He served two terms as president of the Kitsap County Association of Realtors and was appointed to the City of Port Orchard’s Code Revision Committee. Anderson’s community service ventures include being a board member of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce and being a member of the Rotary Club of Port Orchard, serving on the Fast Ferry Task Force and being a stakeholder for Opportunity Zones.
Anderson is married, has children and resides in South Kitsap.
“I’m kind of at the forefront of seeing commercial development occur, I pay close attention to it,” Anderson said. “I feel I can give something back to the community with my experience and my knowledge and my connections that might help encourage economic development here and also bring jobs here. Giving back and helping my community is very important to me and I feel like this is a way I can do something more directly in line with what I do in my business.”
Both candidates addressed what they would do differently at the port if elected.
“I’m well versed in new and emerging technology, social media, new communication channels and how the world does business,” Edwards said. “I’m ready to move the Port into a forward direction and plan for the needs of businesses looking to start up or relocate. I would use my marketing background to expand existing partnerships and enhance land-based infrastructure.”
Anderson said he doesn’t have a desire to increase taxes.
“I just think my perspective about things and looking for opportunities in ways that the Port can get involved in to make it easier to grow jobs and improve our industrial base here.”
The candidates also talked about issues they would tackle first as a Port commissioner.
“The Port Orchard breakwater needs to be replaced,” Edwards said. “It is an asset of the Port, but now it’s reached its life expectancy. If not replaced soon, the marina could be in much worse shape. A portion of the east breakwater and all of A-dock would be in serious condition, putting the structures at risk of failure.”
“We have a huge industrial complex here at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and they are looking for an alternative to tear apart their mothball (reserve) fleets,” Anderson said. “I think the Port should be at the forefront of helping that happen. Derek Kilmer would be a wonderful advocate to make that happen.”
The deadline to vote in the Kitsap County primary election is Aug. 6.
Editors Note: a previous version of this story bore an error which stated that Edwards currently serves as the Economic Development Manager for the City of Bremerton. Edwards is, in fact, a former Economic Development Manager for the City of Bremerton.