With the Nov. 5 general election looming, five port commissioner positions in the Central Kitsap area will be starting new terms. Kitsap News Group reached out to the candidates to gather some insight into the important issues facing Kitsap County’s ports.
Port of Bremerton
The lone contested race is between Gary Anderson and Jack Edwards for the Port of Bremerton’s District 2 Commissioner position — which actually encompasses the southern shore of Sinclair Inlet and extends through Port Orchard. Current District 2 Commissioner Larry Stokes revealed earlier this year that he will not be seeking re-election for the position.
Anderson is a graduate of South Kitsap High School and has more than 30 years of experience in operating and managing commercial and residential real estate companies, establishing the G Anderson Group in 2010. He served two terms as President of the Kitsap County Association of Realtors and his community service efforts include being part of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce Board, Port Orchard Rotary, and Fast Ferry Task Force.
Since relocating to Washington, Edwards served as the former Economic Development Manager for the City of Bremerton, as well as being the chairman for the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, a founding member of the Harbor Festival, and member of the Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Kitsap County Lodging Tax Advisory Committees.
Both candidates addressed the current needs of the port.
“One major thing is the breakwater of the Port Orchard Marina needs to be rebuilt to preserve that asset,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be very costly, but they’re planning for it and looking for ways to make sure it gets done. Beyond that, the port is pretty well run.”
“The biggest one is going to be the replacement of the Port Orchard Marina,” Edwards said. “That breakwater needs to be replaced, now it’s reached life expectancy. Some of the structures are kind of at the risk of failure. They’ve already sourced some funding that the port has put aside. That marina is an asset to the port.”
Anderson and Edwards also talked about their approach regarding the taxpayer’s money.
“I’m a conservative person by nature,” Anderson said. “Being mindful of the taxpayer’s burden is something I’m going to be very mindful of. I have no intentions of increasing any taxes and will be looking for ways the port can increase its revenue and hopefully reduce any tax burden that the taxpayers are burdened with.”
“I will not vote for any property tax increase as allowed by the port,” Edwards said. Every decision, when it comes to budgeting, needs to be reviewed and looked at to make sure that we are good stewards with the money. I’m going to make sure the port gets a return of investment that makes the taxpayer’s satisfied.”
In conclusion, the candidates spoke out on why they are a more qualified candidate than their opponent.
“I’ve been involved with quite a number of things that have actually produced solid results,” Anderson said. “You can’t be an effective real estate broker without understanding the land use changes that are coming before you. I think I have a vast amount of experience in those areas and a good understanding of real estate matters that can be beneficial to the port.”
“I have government experience, I’ve worked with our local elected officials,” Edwards said. “I know how to work with lobbyists. I’ve already worked with port projects in the past. I’ve also attended all of the commissioner meetings. I’m fairly up to date on the issues.”
Port of Silverdale
Caleb Reese has served as commissioner for District 1 since April after longtime commissioner Lawrence Greaves announced his resignation earlier this year. Reese is running unopposed for this position.
“There were four of us who put our names in and the other commissioners chose me,” Reese said regarding his appointment in April. “I’ve been around the areas for years, I’ve used the port since I was five years old. I’ve always wanted to pay back to the community for all the use that I’ve had of it so that’s why I stepped up.”
Reese talked about how his past experience will help him in this new role.
“I’ve worked at the same company for 38 years doing multiple tasks and I’ve always been a hands-on kind of person. Hopefully, my background with that will help me moving forward.”
He also talked about what he sees as the biggest concern facing the port.
“My biggest concern is access to the water for everybody. I’ve been to too many areas where that access has been limited due to large developments taking over the waterfront areas and not allowing the people to use that area. We’re hoping to get some more human power boats by adding to the dock.”
Port of Brownsville
Shaun Nye was appointed as a commissioner for District 3 two years ago and is running unopposed for re-election.
“There’s been a lot of change, a lot of different people have passed through here,” Nye said. “As it’s grown, I think there’s been some growing pains but I also see it growing in a way that’s going to benefit the port itself. I’m excited for what the future brings because we are really getting ready to start a new Brownsville.”
Nye talked about some of the current issues he sees with the port, as well as how his last two years of experience will help him moving forward.
“It’s getting harder and harder to access the water for the public,” he said. “It seems to be harder and harder for younger adults that are wanting to raise children to be able to moor a boat. The affordability to be able to enjoy the water seems to be increasingly going up. I didn’t realize how much of a burden that is. As a very new port commissioner, there is a lot to still learn. I must be available, I must be able to listen and to understand that everyone has their thoughts.”
Port of Illahee
Current Position 3 Commissioner James Aho is running unopposed for re-election. He was a professional engineer working for the Navy and as a consultant for over 40 years, and is the current president of the Illahee Forest Preserve and member of the Illahee Preserve Stewardship Committee. Aho also serves as a member of the Central Kitsap Community Council and on the advisory board of the Bremerton Salvation Army.
Aho addressed some primary concerns that the port is currently facing.
“Our emphasis right now is the Illahee store,” he said. “What we want to do is get the store and clean it up, then we wanted to have a place for a community center. We needed a place for the port to meet. Right now, we meet at Seeds of Grace. We are a very small port, less than $10,000 in yearly tax dollars. You can’t do much with that little amount of money.”
“We have to figure out how to get grants. Our goal is to make a marine park. We also have some floats that are deteriorating, pilings that are deteriorating, so we got some major costs. We’re going to put in some grants with the Recreation and Conservation Office.”
Port of Tracyton
Ken Griffin is running unopposed for the Commissioner District 3 position. Multiple attempts to contact Griffin for comment were unsuccessful.