Commissioner Bauer extends a hand

The new District #1 county commissioner joins Kingston Community News with a monthly column

Starting with this issue of the Kingston Community News, I will be taking over the column previously written by Chris Endresen, former Kitsap County Commissioner, District # 1. For those of us who live in the North End of the county, it was hard to imagine life without Chris. She has roots here, partnered with us on our issues and made every one of us feel like we were her special friend.

Fortunately, Chris accepted an offer this spring to become Washington State Field Director for Senator Maria Cantwell. Even though we feel a terrible sense of loss, this move also means that we will have someone who really understands us and can help bring federal attention to our local issues and needs. We wish Chris well in her new endeavor and look forward to working with her on issues here.

I was nominated by the Kitsap County Democratic Party and selected by Commissioners Jan Angel and Josh Brown to fill Chris’ unexpired term. I was sworn in July 9 and will serve through December 2008. I will have to run for the seat to serve beyond that time.

Except for being away at college, I’ve lived half my life in Washington and half in Oregon. I was in the Coast Guard in Seattle in the early ‘70s and have always had a dream of living near Puget Sound or Hood Canal. That dream came true when I bought my home in Hansville in 1997. I have lived here fulltime since 2000. My 26-year career in local government management included being City Manager of Bellevue, Director of Finance and Administration for the City of Portland and Director of the League of Oregon Cities.

I originally became interested in being commissioner when I read about the county’s budget problems. I am a resident of the county and care deeply about its success. The county faces severe financial problems that will threaten its ability to provide services unless these problems are fixed. That will be my top priority.

There are other significant opportunities and challenges. I’m told that Kitsap County has more saltwater shoreline than any county in Washington. The health and vitality of Hood Canal and Puget Sound are of critical importance to all of us. I want to work with the recently created Puget Sound Partnership to help restore and preserve the Canal and Sound.

Managing growth, meeting transportation challenges, improving ferry service, providing parks and other amenities, protecting the environment – all of these are critical parts of protecting our quality of life. We must find ways as a society to practice sustainability rather than constantly consuming resources. The county must be a strong partner with other governments in tackling these issues.

In addition, there are issues that are unique to each area within District #1. Did you know that this district includes two cities (Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo), two tribes (Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam), two naval bases (Bangor and Keyport), five port districts (Eglon, Kingston, Indianola, Poulsbo and Brownsville), one urban growth area (Kingston) and special communities like Indianola, Suquamish, Greater Hansville, Brownsville and Port Gamble? Being commissioner means representing the interests of each of these areas. I look forward to getting to know the people and issues in each area.

I also look forward to meeting and working with many of you. Feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments or suggestions on how the county might better improve its services.