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Electing candidates who know governing is serious business

Thoughts about the upcoming election and who are the better choices

Make no mistake: It takes chutzpah and plenty of energy to run for office.

As I’ve written before on this page, plaudits are due to those who decide to become a candidate for public office. In today’s climate of political cynicism and venal discourse, it’s a decision not to be taken lightly.

If elected to office, they’d better be blessed with persistence and dedication in order to capably carry out their duties. Governance can be a grueling process. Public meetings often stretch hours beyond their scheduled times. Then there are the hours it takes to read and understand documents in the hundreds of pages that detail complicated, often convoluted issues impacting the communities they serve.

It’s critical that candidates-turned-elected officials enter office with an open mind, free of preconceived notions or personal animus. After all, there’s plenty of work to be accomplished by people harboring good intentions who can make decisions that are best for their community. Now more than ever, political grandstanding and childish, petty one-upmanship have no place in those deliberations.

It’s unfortunate that such tit-for-tat discourse in the chambers of government in Washington, D.C., spurred on by nonsensical, ill-informed verbal sewage from social media, has become something of a primer for how government should operate.

Fortunately, despite the abundant partisan noise and misinformation, good governing is being accomplished, especially at the local level, in places like Port Orchard.

In our community, city government employees —directed by the elected City Council and the mayor — continue to do good work.

And our elected officials have effectively worked together over the past several years to accomplish some significant achievements: the completion of the Tremont street-widening project; new wells to provide water sources for a growing community; crafting updated building standards allowing commercial development alongside a mix of new urban residential units; examining the city’s parks system and determining how they can be optimized; and working with the Kitsap Public Facilities District and other regional agencies to create and build a once-in-a-generation civic facility — a community events center.

It’s critical that City Council members continue to shepherd the transformation of Port Orchard into a dynamic, growing city attractive to new businesses and young families searching for a place to put down roots.

In the upcoming municipal election, three City Council incumbents — Fred Chang, Scott Diener and Jay Rosapepe — are deserving of reelection.

They are thoughtful public servants who do their homework about important issues in order to ask pertinent questions and arrive at policy solutions.

There’s a candidate for the council’s at-large position, Mark Trenary, who has a lengthy record as a small business owner and civic volunteer in South Kitsap. He deserves election to that post.

Tempering the SKSD school board drama

The South Kitsap School District’s Board of Directors has been beset by squabbles and dysfunction that, if not for the fact the school district is facing critical mass on a number of issues, would be darkly comical and worth some eye-rolling and heavy sighs. But dare we say the obvious? That behavior is stupid, demoralizing and unproductive. But there’s no time for the petty arguments and personal attacks that seem to dominate board meetings these days.

Adding to the upheaval was the resignation of board president Eric Gattenby on Sept. 28. He won’t be replaced until after candidates for the vacated position are interviewed and the board’s choice is formally appointed on Dec. 15.

The school board’s paralysis has been a major hindrance in implementing district plans led by Superintendent Tim Winter. He needs the support of the directors not only in guiding the district through the pandemic but in developing a long-range plan addressing the much-needed modernization of its school facilities. The most recent school building constructed in the district was built more than 30 years ago. That’s unacceptable and weakens SKSD’s mission of educating students in the 21st century.

The new appointee will join two new directors to be chosen by voters in the Nov. 2 election. They will replace Rebecca Diehl and Liz Sebren, who chose not to seek reelection.

Running for the open District 3 seat are Brian Pickard and Anna Schroeder. The latter is an ICU nurse at St. Joseph in Tacoma. Schroeder is a thoughtful, intelligent candidate, but she would do well to get more seasoning by serving as a community volunteer and activist. Pickard is the better choice for voters. He has an extensive background working in the district as an educator and administrator, and is a proven consensus builder the school district sorely needs.

Jeffrey Wilson and Gregg Anderson are running for the District 4 seat. Both candidates lack a resume of community involvement, but Wilson promises that if elected, he would eschew the drama that’s currently on display at board meetings and would earnestly work to provide students with the best education possible. Wilson should get the voters’ nod.

Bob Smith is executive editor of Kitsap News Group. He also edits the Port Orchard Independent and can be contacted at rsmith@soundpublishing.com.