SK school bond, council incumbents struggling

First day results in the Kitsap County general election indicate the South Kitsap School District’s long period of bond failures will continue, while multiple incumbents in Port Orchard’s City Council find themselves struggling to stay afloat.

School administrators, board directors Jeffrey Wilson and Kate Espy and leaders of the South Kitsap School Supporters campaign packed Damn Fine Pizza the night of Nov. 7 to await results from a fiery campaign that sought to end 35 years of election disaster.

The night began with cheers from the small crowd as the numbers for all three school board races were announced. Espy, seeking her first election after being appointed in 2021, found herself with a solid lead, as did Megan Higgins and Jay Villars.

But those numbers were quickly followed by the results of the $271 million bond over 20-plus years. Those who voted no were slightly more than those who voted yes, but because it’s a bond measure it takes a 60% supermajority to pass.

Gerry Austin admitted earlier it was unclear who the numbers would favor, taking into account the infamous demanding district that SK has become and with a plan that differed from earlier failed bonds that focused on opening a second high school. “This is a totally different plan, totally different numbers. I can tell you one thing. We succeeded in our campaign plan. We got out the vote,” he said.

Supporters like Austin aren’t ready to give up. “We have work to do,” he said. “Our facilities continue to be in a state of disrepair. We can’t sustain this forever, and I look forward to the people who voted against this stepping up to be a part of the future solution.”

It’s unclear when SKSD will try to pass another bond. “We get the new board in their seats in December, and then we will decide what we want to do next,” superintendent Tim Winter said.

Meanwhile, for the city of Port Orchard, incumbents Cindy Lucarelli and longtime Councilman John Clauson both find themselves trailing.

Clauson’s challenger, Eric Worden, had a commanding lead at 64%. He said in an online statement that he knew the challenge he was facing given his opponent’s lengthy career, but his lead indicates the difference between a recognizable name and someone actually in the community. “I saw I can contribute to positive changes in the area, and work well with (the) current council to help us grow in the right direction,” he said.

The margin favoring Heidi Fenton is much closer (52%) over Lucarelli (48%), making it a race to keep an eye on while more ballots are counted.

Councilmember Mark Trenary has a huge lead over Wilbur Hart while John Morrissey’s lead over Kaylan Marie O’Connor is much closer, 52.5% to 47.5%. Also, Mayor Rob Putaansuu has a solid lead over Rawlins Maye.