South Kitsap Commissioners and the PSRC Litmus Test

Judging from the two times I have seen all four candidates for South Kitsap Commissioner “debate” one another, you’d think they were good buddies truly sorry that in order for one to win, three others will have to lose. Perhaps mindful of past rancor on the board of commissioners, they want to show they can get along and are cordial almost to a fault.

In the story I wrote for Thursday’s kitsapsun.com, my editor and I decided to focus on the county budget and the local economy because money is so much on people’s minds. On these topics, none of the candidates has ideas that are radically different from the others.

Republican Tim Matthes actually lamented being last to answer a question on the county budget because, “These folks all have really good ideas.”

What’s a voter to do? Let’s talk about growth management and land use, ah. now there’s the litmus test.

Here’s what I remember about litmus tests from my days in chemistry class: You dip a piece of paper into a substance. The paper has the same substance on it in each case, but depending on the substance into which you dip it, it turns color to indicate where on the spectrum of basic to acid it stands. Please understand that I am not assigning a qualitative value to acids or bases (and I’m not even going to try to equate political inclinations to chemical substances, which simply exist – and most everything in the world, by the way is either acidic or basic in some respect). Now you know hwy I went into journalism instead of chemistry,

Folks, this is a metaphor, my way of trying to show the substantive differences between Matthes, Democrats Charlotte Garrido, Monty Mahan and independent candidate Paul Nuchims.

On the Growth Management Act:

Matthes wants to streamline development regulations. He said, “I have some serious reservations about the Growth Management Act. The cost of regulations are driving us under in Kitsap County.”

Mahan supports the tenets of the Growth Management Act. He believes concentrating growth in urban areas will to protect the environment while making populous areas more attractive to residents.

Nuchims, in response to a question on the Growth Management Act,  said Kitsap County tends to be “reactive rather than proactive.” The county needs to “decide our own fate” instead of reacting to other government agencies, he said. The county needs to “fight for what we want.”

Garrido supports the Growth Management Act which is applied through the county’s Comprehensive Plan. When she was a commissioner (1997-2000), the comp plan had been declared invalid. Her administration had to whip it into shape. “it was a really tough time to be in office,” she said. There’s a lot of work yet to be done.

On Kitsap’s membership in the Puget Sound Regional Council:

Mahan said the PSRC affords Kitsap access to funding for infrastructure dollars and “makes us part of the the most powerful lobbying block in the western part of the state. He does not, however, “want people from across the sound representing the west side of the sound … We should be at the table fighting for every penny we should get,” he said.

Nuchims, showing his outside the box side, said Kitsap, Pierce and King counties need to coordinate on a rapid transit system similar to the Bay Area’s B.A.R.T. “It’s going to take a lot of time, planning and money, but sooner or later, it’s going to be necessary.”

Matthes said, “I think we need to understand all the ramifications of being involved in the PSRC, and we need to do more studying on that. … I’m very worried about a large bureaucratic organization telling Kitsap County how we’re going to live and where we’re going to live 20 to 30 years from now.”

Garrido said “absolutely, yes” the county needs to maintain membership in the PSRC. “We’re increasingly in need of partnering with other jurisdictions” to address regional infrastructure and growth issues.” She said Kitsap and other jurisdictions can “find efficiencies and ideas” from one another.

This doesn’t have to do with growth. It’s a category I call “baggage carried.”

Matthes is a former president of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners. He has said he does not want to be regarded as simply a mouthpiece for KAPO, although he supports individual property rights. In addition to fiscal conservatism, his other main platform is land use regulations and the need to simplify them.

Mahan is the son of Port of Bremerton Commissioner and former Kitsap County Commissioner Bill Mahan. He has said he wants to distance himself from his father – especially when it comes to talking about SEED. The time he spend hanging around county offices as a youngster has given him an insider’s understanding of county government, he said.

Garrido lost in her bid to retain and regain her seat on the county’s Board of Commissions when she ran against incumbent Jan Angel in 2000 and 2004. She has learned much since then from her involvement with the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance and other local boards about the importance of “making alliances.”

Nuchims is a relative newcomer to local politics, having moved here four years ago. He joined the race relatively late as a Democrat, but failed to get any votes of endorsement from the Kitsap Democratic Party and then switched to independent. He appears to see his role as being a “gadfly” to the status quo of county politics. He is concerned with development in Manchester and protection of view rights.

One thought on “South Kitsap Commissioners and the PSRC Litmus Test

  1. Do any of the candidates have an opinion about the dropout rate at South Kitsap High School? Everyone was all abuzz about the graduating class of 2008 being more than 1,000 when they came to the high school in the fall of their sophomore year. 651 graduated. Whose problem is this, or is it a problem? I mean, they’re probably not important people, so… Who would a concerned taxpayer address this issue to? The elected officials, the superintendent, the mayor? Whose department is this?

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