Over the last quarter century, Poulsbo resident Barbara Stephenson has balanced and blended her career in the Puget Sound banking world with equal parts community service.
Stephenson, who has served over the last decade as executive director of the United Way of Kitsap County, hopes her combined experiences will equal a viable election bid for the county treasurer position this fall.
A Democrat, Stephenson familiarized herself with the inner workings of county government over the last two years while serving as one of 21 freeholders. The elected board was tasked with crafting a proposed charter by which Kitsap County government could operate, if approved by voters.
Kitsap County constituents turned down the proposed charter in a February special election.
“Through the charter process, I learned a lot about county government,” Stephenson said. “One goal I would have as treasurer would be to help people understand where their tax dollars are being spent…and build on the fantastic foundation that is already in place.”
Current Kitsap County Treasurer Sharon Shrader, also a Democrat, already announced her intention to retire this fall after completing her 18th year in that office.
Shrader has yet to endorse a candidate to succeed her as treasurer since she first wants to properly assess the political landscape as other would-be candidates announce themselves.
Before officially retiring, however, Shrader says she’s intent on finishing up the treasurer’s role in helping develop the county’s Land Information System, an electronic database of property information that would be shared and tapped by various county departments — from the assessor’s office to emergency services.
Shrader says the next treasurer for Kitsap County will have to be Internet savvy and look at ways to communicate, through the Internet, with taxpayers, the various junior taxing districts and the county.
Treasurers, among other things, are tasked with serving as the chief fiduciary agent for Kitsap County and the ex-officio treasurer for all of the junior taxing districts within the county.
Stephenson, who is keen on publicly serving the Kitsap community, says she can fulfill the obligations of the office because she has a history of doing so in the private sector and for a non-profit service organization in the Kitsap community.
At 49, Stephenson’s fiscal sense runs deep.
She worked as a banker for 14 years with Rainier Bank and Security Pacific Bank, where she served as branch manager in Poulsbo and then in Seattle for seven years. Stephenson was named “Branch Manager of the Year” in 1987.
Eleven years ago, she was appointed executive director of the United Way of Kitsap. The Kitsap arm of United Way raises funds to support 30 local health and human service agencies. During Stephenson’s tenure at the nonprofit, community donations increased by 68 percent while staffing levels within her office has remained the same.
Stephenson is also a past president of the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce and earned its “Person of the Year” award in 1990.
She’s already completed an 11-year appointment to the Olympic College Board of Trustees, where she was recognized for her service in 1996.
Currently, Stephenson is also serving as the president of the Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club and is Vice Chairman of the Washington Commission for National and Community Service, appointed by Gov. Gary Locke. The commission administers, among other things, Americorps grants across the state.
Stephenson, who lives in Poulsbo with her husband John, a civil engineer, has three married daughters and four grandchildren.