Port of Kingston Commission: Elliott, Kirschner advance from primary

As of Wednesday evening, Walt Elliott had tallied 43.28 percent of votes, with 264. Jerry Kirschner was second with 199 votes while Tom Coultas trailed with 140.

KINGSTON — The Port of Kingston will have a new commissioner next year. Longtime District 3 incumbent Tom Coultas garnered the fewest votes among three candidates in Tuesday’s primary election, eliminating him from contention in the Nov. 8 general election.

As of Wednesday evening, Walt Elliott had tallied 43.28 percent of votes, with 264. Jerry Kirschner was second with 199 votes while Coultas trailed with 140. There were about 50 ballots on hand to count countywide Wednesday, county Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore said. The election will be certified at the end of August.

“I’m really humbled and grateful people voted for me,” Elliott said Wednesday. “The community really does owe Tom a big thanks… I hope I can do as good a job as he did if I’m elected.”

Coultas was elected to the commission in 1989 and stepped down in 1992. He ran again in 1999, topping three other candidates for the District 3 position.

Coultas said he was relying on his record of savvy financial management. He and other commissioners helped the port through financial turmoil in the 1980s. The district now enjoys a healthy reserve fund.

“It’s a pretty strong track record, as far as I’m concerned,” Coultas said Tuesday before polls closed. “Even if they turn me out, I’ll leave with a good feeling in my heart.”

Elliott served a long and varied Navy career, including time as deputy of submarine operations at U.S. Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor, project manager in Washington D.C., and commander of an engineering lab in Keyport, R.I.

Elliott and wife Bobbie Moore have owned a home in Kingston for 20 years and keep a boat in the marina. He has served on the Kingston Citizens Advisory Council, chairman of Kingston’s Ferry Advisory Committee, and co-chairman of the Executive Committee of Ferry Advisory Committees, which represents riders from all state ferry routes.

Elliott said walking the district and meeting voters has been his favorite part of the campaigning process.

“I think a commissioner’s job isn’t to bring an agenda to the job but to understand the community,” he said. “That’s the best part of the whole thing, getting out and meeting people.”

Kirschner also invested time doorbelling.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting out and talking to the people and explaining to them why I’m doing this,” Kirschner said. “I’ve come back really energized.”

He wants to see the port do more to bring more small businesses to Kingston. The port has a broad mandate to promote economic growth.

“If nothing else, I’ve been able to give a different perspective of what the port can do,” he said.

Kirschner said he’s grateful to his supporters.

“A lot of people have stepped up, not for me, but to get the message out to the Kingston community,” he said.

The three-way contest for the District 3 position is the first contested Port of Kingston race since 2003. Commissioners serve six-year terms and are paid $2,400 a year.

Check updated results on the Kitsap County Auditor’s website.