Brynn Grimley writes:
I was up bright and early Wednesday morning to attend the Port Orchard/Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum where the four Central Kitsap Commissioner candidates were set to square off on the issues.
Three of the four were able to attend, David Corley, and East Bremerton Republican, was there initially but had to leave because of a family emergency, according to Patti Kirkpatrick, vice president of the Port Orchard Chamber.
The candidates are Republican Abby Burlingame, of East Bremerton; self-proclaimed “old school” Democrat Wally Carlson, of the Fairgrounds area; and incumbent Democrat Josh Brown.
Here’s why each candidate said they chose to run:
Brown: He is running for three reasons:
1. Fiscal responsibility. Since being elected four years ago Brown says he’s seen the county cut its general fund by $14 million and go from relying heavily on reserves to balance the budget to not using the reserve fund at all. Commissioners also implemented financial policies that prohibit the county from guaranteeing outside loans, like what was done with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority.
2. To get things done. He cited cutting through the red tape that almost prevented the Seabeck marina from happening and getting the ball rolling on developing the Central Kitsap Community Campus through the courtship of the YMCA. He called the YMCA a “phenomenal project” for the community, and believes the county’s $1 million investment from its capital projects fund will be returned to the community the minute the facility opens.
3. Balanced growth. Brown cited endorsements by the home builders association and Kitsap conservation voters.
Burlingame: She is running because she believes the county lacks accountability and needs to create a sustainable budget that focuses on core services. Those are:
1. Law and justice
2. Roads (maintenance and construction)
3. Keeping facilities like the courthouse open for business five days a week
Burlingame believes the county has fallen short in those areas and needs to get back on track without increasing taxes. She believes the removal of the county commissioners from the land use appeals process was not smart and says the county is anti-growth and anti-job. She is also concerned about the county’s participation in the Puget Sound Regional Council, saying she feels Kitsap is not comparable to urbanized King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Trying to place Seattle-size growth on Kitsap just won’t work, she said.
Carlson: Calling himself a “regular renaissance man” compared to Burlingame and Brown, Carlson said he is running because over the last 40 years “I haven’t seen a government that’s so dysfunctional.” The current government has excessive regulations and rules that are stagnating job creation, he said. He has suggested a “Wally Vision 2010” that would streamline county government and “control our own destiny.”
The owner of a custom built homes business, Carlson has first-hand experience of the dysfunction in the county’s Department of Community Development, he said. He cited the trouble he had getting a permit to remodel an elderly Tracyton couple’s home — he was asked to build a bedroom on the couple’s ground floor so they don’t have to walk upstairs. Carlson said it took him three years and three months to get the permit. He believes an overhaul of DCD is necessary, and that the department should establish a “people’s advocate” to make sure permits don’t get “lost” on the desks of planning staff, resulting in the delay in permit processing.