Hart To Run As ‘Taxpayers’ Watchdog’ For Bremerton Port Commission

By Rachel Pritchett

rpritchett@kitsapsun.com

BRemerton

It’s been more than two years, but anger hasn’t ebbed over the Port of Bremerton’s surprise property tax hike for the expansion of its Bremerton Marina, now two-thirds empty.

Gene Hart, who announced Thursday he will run for the District 1 seat, said that under his watch, such an “infamous money grab” and “pickpocket” episode will never happen again.

Characterizing himself as a “taxpayers’ watchdog,” the 62-year-old Bremerton resident critized the commission he said never informed residents that the steep increase was coming.

Any proposed increase in taxes by the port district should go to a pubic vote, he said.

Hart said the current holder of the seat, Cheryl Kincer, has not risen above the level of “caretaker” and is simply “warming the seat.” Kincer has not yet said whether she will seek a third term. Chico resident Roger Zabinski is the other announced candidate, so far. The District 1 position is the only one of the commission’s three seats up for election this year. Each term lasts six years.

Hart, who is retired, said he will run on a platform of making the port open and accountable. And, he will have a five-year plan to “terminate operating defincits and operating losses.”

While Hart is for bringing new businesses to the port district, he said he would not be agreeable “to squandering one more penny of local taxes on SEED.” 

SEED is the port’s wished-for Sustainable Energy and Economic Development project, a blueprint for  attracting clean-tech industry.

A constant fixture in Port of Bremerton commission audiences, Hart has long objected to the practice of commissioners requiring people who give public testimony to first state their names.

“What I’m concerned is about other citizens out there having to do that because, in my view, it’s a form of intimidation,” he said.

Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman’s upcoming move to chief executive officer for the port sits well with Hart.

“I liken Cary to a strong workhorse,” Hart said. Put him in front of a plow and he’ll pull it, he added.

Hart lives on Trenton Avenue and has been a Kitsap resident for 25 years. He is retired out of the Navy, where he said he served both as an enlistee and an officer who reached the rank of lieutenant commander. Much of his Navy work concerned budgeting.

Since retirement, he has been involved in real estate and in owning a music store.

Today, he enjoys online securities trading.

He said he holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University.

Hart can be found most mornings at a downtown Bremerton coffee shop talking about the days events with other retirees.

Hart said he will front the money himself for his campaign. He can be reached at geneh@silverlink.net.

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