BREMERTON — County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido was elected to a third consecutive term on Nov. 8, fending off a challenge from Republican Chris Tibbs.
It was Tibbs’ fifth attempt at elective office. Garrido received 47,714 votes (53.4 percent) to Tibbs’ 41,529 (46.5 percent).
Garrido, a Democrat, has a doctorate in urban planning and a 30-year background in a variety of civic issues. She served as county commissioner from 1997-2000 and 2009 to present.
During her campaign, Garrido said she has chosen to focus on “quality of life” issues — creating an environment to attract family wage jobs to the county, economic development, urban planning, and access to higher education for all county residents.
Her experience is largely in the areas of urban planning, small-business ownership, education planning, education, community service and the corporate setting.
There are so many pressing issues facing Kitsap County, Garrido said, that she hesitates to name just one.
“Every day is busy, and each presents a lot of challenges,” she said. “One of the biggest would be developing a good county comprehensive plan. We really need to get a good plan approved and maintain the course, rather than face litigation.”
She added, “I come to this by being a citizen first. I try to remember that every person I serve actually lives in the county, and each of them brings with them specialized expertise about their own surroundings. We can learn from that.”
One of her proudest accomplishments as a commissioner is the way the county managed to keep functioning during the economic downturn.
“It was hard,” she said. “We really had to learn to tighten our belts. For example, we closed the county offices for one day a week. That was hard, because it affected people’s income. But the result was that most people kept their jobs.”
Tibbs has unsuccessfully sought election to the North Kitsap School Board, Kitsap Public Utilities Commission, and County Commission, and earlier this year applied for appointment to a vacancy on the Port Orchard City Council. He had his greatest successes as Kitsap County Republican Party chairman, bolstering the local party’s financial health and in 2014 helping to elect Republicans to key positions in the county: Phil Cook, county assessor; Tina Robinson, county prosecutor; and Ed Wolfe, Board of County Commissioners.
In his latest campaign for office, Tibbs’ key messages were economic development, acting as a champion for South Kitsap, and bringing back what he sees as political balance on the partisan Board of County Commissioners.
He feels the commission, and Garrido in particular, are unresponsive to the public.
Originally a Democrat, Tibbs says he left the party because he felt ignored. “They didn’t want to even hear what I had to say,” he said.
With the Republican Party, he found viewpoints more closely aligned to his.
So, he was asked, since he has never actually won an election to public office, why was this race so important? His answer carried confident echoes of a certain Republican president-elect.
“After 20 years, we need a change,” he said. “No one can bring people together like I can.”
For Garrido, the satisfaction of the office lies in the fact that no two days are alike. “There are always tough challenges. But each day also brings solutions.”