Home Rule rules in Kitsap County

Kitsap County joined the ranks of major Puget Sound counties by taking the first step in becoming a charter county last night. County voters approved an initiative yesterday allowing the election of 21 freeholders to write a home rule charter that could drastically change the way the county is set up.

“I really believe it will be a wonderful thing for Kitsap County, said Jim Martin, chairman of the Home Rule Committee. The county freeholders will be able to do everything from increasing the number of commissioners to cutting them down to a part-time staff. Home rule charter supporters have been pushing the power of initiative and referendum in the charter and the possible power to elect now appointed officials. Although there was no distinct opposition to the home rule, more than 40 percent of those who voted said no to the charter. Martin said those that voted against the home rule charter probably did not know what the initiative was about. I think there was a lack of understanding about the charter, Martin said. I don’t think people realized all that it can do. Although the League of Woman Voters had voiced some concerns about the home rule charter, president Kim Abel said it took no formal stand on the initiative, and that the passage of the charter could be a good thing for the county. I think it means this is going to be an exciting time to do something in the county, Abel said. There are now going to be a lot of chances for the community to get information. The league will be very busy getting some information out. Even if the home rule charter failed, Abel said it would only be a matter of time before the county eventually adopted one. Since larger counties have routinely approved home rule charters, Abel said the growth of Kitsap County pretty much ensured a future home rule charter and that the county could benefit from an increase in the number of county commissioners. The county is just getting too large, Abel said. Although the home rule initiative has been approved, no charter has been written and no changes have been made. Now that the charter has been approved, seven freeholders from each of the counties will gather to draft a new home rule charter for Kitsap County, which will then go before voters in a future election. Martin, who ran for a freeholder in commissioner district 2, said he was impressed with the caliber of candidates up for freeholder. None of the candidates where clear cut winners as of late Tuesday, but Martin said it didn’t matter. Whether I’m with them or not, it doesn’t matter, Martin said. The process is underway. Kitsap has become the sixth county in the state to adopt a home rule charter. Whatcom, Clallum, King, Pierce, and Snohomish have passed home rule charters in the past. Kitsap County had voted on a home rule charter before in 1971, but it was soundly defeated. (b)Endresen, Angel win commish seats(/b) By AMY CRUMLEY Staff Writer Kitsap County voters wished Republican candidate Jan Angel a happy birthday last night by choosing her over Democratic contender Dusty Wiley as the next District 2 county commissioner. With Wiley gaining nearly 48 percent of the vote, Angel secured just under 52 percent, according to unofficial final tallies provided by the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office. Though not ready to call the race at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday from the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, where she and others celebrated her birthday and campaign, Angel still couldn’t help but be excited and grateful by the early returns. It feels good to have secured the people’s trust so far, she said. I’ve never done this before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Hopefully, I will get the chance to bring the government back to the people of Kitsap County. Wiley, meanwhile, didn’t return calls Tuesday night. The race for the District 2 position, to be vacated in January by first-term County Commissioner incumbent Charlotte Garrido, has proved a volatile contest from the start. Although Wiley secured the Democratic nomination for county commissioner in September’s primary election with nearly 26 percent of the vote, he never received the Democratic Party’s endorsement. Wiley ran as a Republican for the same county commissioner position in 1995,but opted this time to run as a Democrat. Wiley serves on the Kitsap Fire District 7 commission, and has worked with the county for nearly 30 years, currently as a traffic-safety inspector. Angel, a mortgage banker with Golf Savings Bank in Silverdale, has 14 years of banking and finance experience and some seven years experience in real estate sales. Angel also owned her own business for several years in Kitsap and Pierce counties. The race for the District 1 seat has been no less contentious this campaign season. Kitsap County voters apparently decided they’d like to give Democratic incumbent Chris Endresen another try as their county commissioner for four more years as their county commissioner, rather than Republican opponent Scott Henden. Unofficial final returns submitted by the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office indicated late last night that Endresen was pulling ahead of Henden 52 to 47 percent. I am so thankful to the voters, said Endresen from the Sandpiper Inn in Silverdale. I’ve worked hard over the last four years and I plan to work just as hard over the next four on economic development, quality of life issues and transportation. Endresen said she was also glad voters seemed to see through the negative campaigning that had run rampant throughout the county over the last few months. It’s too bad that negative campaigning has reached so local a level of government, she said. Henden, meanwhile, wasn’t ready to concede the race last night. This is still a winnable race even though it isn’t exactly close. It’s actually been a better race for the Republican Party than in former years, said Henden. Results are still coming in from other precincts, so obviously we hope the trend turns in our favor. This race to the north has been anything but cool and, in fact, the heat just about got to both of the candidates Henden, owner and operator of Henden Electric Inc. in Kingston, has, from the beginning, voraciously defended the rights of property owners and decried the high property taxes in Kitsap County. As a big believer in independent enterprise, Henden has said he also wants to bring more jobs to Kitsap County. That can’t be done, he said, until owning a home is made less difficult and private property rights aren’t infringed upon. All the while, Democratic candidate Chris Endresen, a first-term incumbent, said she too believed in the rights of property owners, but recognizes the necessity of protecting salmon as mandated by the state and federal government. Throughout her campaign, Endresen said she’d continue the fight for transportation connections and let Olympia know next year, without a doubt, ferries must be saved. Endresen has also a big supporter of natural resources. (b)Sheldon, Rockefeller apparent winners in 23rd(/b) By CHRIS CASE Staff Writer Two of the three legislative incumbents from the 23rd legislative district were enjoying comfortable leads in early absentee ballot returns on Tuesday night. The third had a slimmer margin to hold onto. Betti Sheldon, State Senator from the 23rd District and Phil Rockefeller, State Representative from the 23rd District were celebrating leads of more than 10 percent against their opposition in early returns. Beverly Woods, the Poulsbo Republican who was appointed to Karen Schmidt’s legislative seat, was leading Bainbridge Island Democrat David Harrison by three percent in early returns. Sheldon, who joined campaign supporters at the Sandpiper Restaurant in Silverdale, expressed her gratitude and relief over the positive trend of the early numbers. I’m just feeling terrific and so very grateful that this campaign is over. I’m also very proud to have another opportunity to serve Kitsap in Olympia. Sheldon, who has already served eight years in the State Senate, has been an advocate for Kitsap’s passenger ferries and worked hard to achieve the expansion of Olympic College, including help to secure the funding of the Poulsbo branch campus. Her opponent, Bainbridge Island Republican Dan Murphy, campaigned aggressively, questioning Sheldon’s effectiveness in campaign forums. He campaigned on fully funding ferries, capping property taxes and returning more tax dollars to classrooms. Transportation and budget issues were already on Phil Rockefeller’s mind as he viewed early returns that showed him with a comfortable lead over Phil Rasmussen, Poulsbo Republican. I enjoy this job, Rockefeller, a Bainbridge Island Democrat said, I hope we can keep moving forward in the next term. I hope I can continue to earn people’s confidence and respect. The impact of ballot initiatives on the state’s budget-particularly ferry transportation concerns Rockefeller. There’s not a lot of discretionary funding to work with already. It’s going to be especially difficult to balance a budget. The closest race in early returns was the Woods and Harrison campaign for the House seat. Woods, positive and upbeat throughout the campaign, maintained that approach to her lead. We’re feeling great, she said. We ran a good, positive campaign and we felt that getting the message out was very important. But, I believe we’ll be back down in Olympia working hard. A member of the House Transportation Committee, Woods was heavily involved in work to restore ferry funding in the wake of I-695 in her first term in Olympia during the campaign. Behind in early returns by about three percent, Harrison was more pragmatic. We’ll just have to wait and see, but we ran a good campaign. Even though we’re trailing, we still hope we can close the gap. Harrison, founder and former director of the Northwest Policy Institite focused his campaign on educational issues and protection of the quality of life. “