Friday, March 30, 2007

Angel Elects Not To Seek Third Term As Commissioner

If you read a few posts down, you'll understand why it came as no surprise to me that South Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel, a Republican, has decided not to seek a third term as county commissioner. I can't say I blame her.

Originally elected in 2000 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Charlotte Garrido, and re-elected by a wide a margin when she beat Garrido again in 2004, Angel told the Business Journal in an exclusive interview that there were a number of reasons for her decision, as well as timing of her announcement.

“I wanted to give both the party and any potential candidates enough time to organize their base of support, as well as get up to speed on the issues.” In what might be viewed as a dig at fellow Commissioner Chris Endresen, she added, “I also believe that two terms is more than enough time for someone in this job.”

Angel said the reasons for her decision are both personal and political, but in the end, after consulting with senior state party officials, she’s been offered some very attractive opportunities that she wants to pursue. When asked specifically what those are, she would only say that the prospect of running for a statewide office has a very distinct appeal — and added as almost an afterthought — as well as accepting possible positions in both state government as well as the private sector. Angel is well thought of by state party leaders and considered to be a bit of a rising star at the state level.

I think — and this is pure speculation on my part — she may have a go at the state Treasurer's post. Her background in banking and finance make her a good fit. Commissioner of Public Lands could also be a possibility if — and it's a big if — Doug Sutherland retires. Sutherland is also a Republican, has a good relationship with Angel, and her experience in land use would almost make her a natural for the job.

Knowing Jan, I also don't see her being a lame duck, but instead, look for her to take off the gloves for the rest of her time in office. Why shouldn't she? She doesn't have anything to lose. I believe from this point forward, Jan will say what's really on her mind, pull out all the stops to get things she wants, and won't hesitate to lay the blame on Chris Endresen and/or Josh Brown for anything that doesn't happen. It's no big secret that she and Endresen have anything but a mutual admiration society going.

The county's oncoming train wreck — the next budget cycle — will be a huge issue Angel can lay right at the feet of Endresen if she chooses to. She's been outvoted 2-1 on most issues for her entire time in office, so that automatically puts Endresen and the Democrats — right or wrong — on the defensive.

Angel’s departure also leaves a huge void for the local Republicans. There isn’t any single dominant candidate in the south end at this point who commands the respect Angel does from the voters. A couple of names have already surfaced though. Steve Stagner — if he's interested — would make an excellent candidate capable of winning. Another name that has popped up is Thor Holm. Holm is an ex-Marine (is there really any such thing?) and past president of the Kitsap County Association of Realtors. He's a no-BS straight shooter and straight talker. While his no-nonsense, military demeanor (not necessarily his politics) may play only questionably well in liberal North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, it suits SK pretty well.

On the Democratic side, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel has indicated she will announce her decision whether to seek another term as mayor, or take a run at Angel's seat, by the end of March. Also rumored to be interested is Monte Mahan, son of Port Commissioner, and former County Commissioner Bill Mahan, and Virgil Hamilton, head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council. Hamilton, who has worked closely with Angel on NASCAR, has said he’d seriously consider the job — but only if Angel didn’t run.

When asked if her strong support of NASCAR was an issue in her decision to bow out, Angel emphatically answered, “Absolutely not. I believe it is the best thing that could happen here, and I’ll continue to work to make it a reality.”

On a personal note, I’ve known Jan Angel for about 25 years, and known her husband, Lynn Williams, even longer. He was one of the first people I met when coming to Kitsap County in 1975 when my first wife went to work for him. I consider both Jan and Lynn to be friends.

Jan is as honest as they come, and takes people at face value until they prove she can’t. If she has a political weakness, it’s perhaps being too trusting of people in an arena where knowledge and information are currency. But one of the things I admire most about Jan, is that she is also a person with the courage of her convictions and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in. In her time as commissioner, she’s endured blatantly partisan political adversity with a graciousness and style few people possess.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed this job, and have some major projects I want to accomplish before I leave,” she added. But it’s just time for a change for me." I sincerely believe her departure will be Kitsap County’s loss.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Quick Observation

It's simply amazing how much money people are willing to offer up upon hearing a rumor that someone might be willing to challenge Larry — you wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist.

What's even more amazing, is who some of them are — people that Seaquist should be very worried about.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is There Nothing Too Low For NASCAR Opponents?

It appears there is nothing too low or out of the bounds of decency and good taste where the opponents of NASCAR are concerned. In addition to defacing a number of “Back The Track” signs located on private property, recently, the Web site Green NASCAR, which promotes the use of environmentally sustainable practices by NASCAR in general, and specifically at the proposed track, was hacked.

The local, privately-owned site was defaced with pornography and other distasteful things by some out of control zealot determined to discredit the effort to bring championship auto racing here.

While the highly organized and ongoing disinformation campaign waged by opponents continues to run in high gear, this action is simply indefensible. No matter how you feel about NASCAR, when the culprit responsible is caught and exposed publicly — and I have no doubt that will happen — the opponent’s public image and credibility will suffer severe, perhaps irreparable damage. And unless opponents — and I’m certain there are some that know who it is — expose this lowlife themselves, that’s exactly what they’ll deserve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

They Can't Be Serious...

In a conversation with a couple of different members of the local Republican Party, it was revealed that perennial candidate Lois McMahan, and fellow right-wing religious extremist Ron Boehme, are supposedly planning to run as a "team" for the two 26th District House seats up next year.

My first reaction was to laugh out loud and then ask, "This is a joke, right?" My sources all assured me it wasn't, and that the pair reportedly plan to take on Democratic incumbents Pat Lantz (if she runs for another term) and freshman Larry — you wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU— Seaquist. Before expressing any personal opinions on this, I want to stress that phone calls to each to confirm this went unreturned, but the sources have been extremely accurate in the past.

What are they thinking?

McMahan's 2006 primary election loss to Jim Hines, who was recruited specifically by the party because they knew McMahan couldn't beat Derek Kilmer, should have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt it's time for her to hang it up and get out of the way of credible candidates with a REAL chance of winning.

Although he was well-financed, worked really hard, is pretty personable one-on-one,
and is a very good public speaker, Boehme still lost big time in '06 to Seaquist — who in my view will be very vulnerable in 2008. There's just something about Boehme that doesn't ring true — at least not for me.

That aside,
what's the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In my view, this dynamic duo has two probable chances to win in the 26th — slim and none. They both need to accept that fact and spare some other, actually electable Republicans, totally unnecessary primary battles. The idea of this problematic pair even running, is just another in a long, ongoing series of sad examples of how the Republicans continue to choose to shoot themselves in the foot.

Are McMahan and Boehme the best the Republicans can do? I sure hope not...

Another Name Surfaces...

Since I asked our readers to throw out some names of possible candidates for South Kitsap County Commissioner, one new name surfaced yesterday afternoon during a chance encounter with a former candidate in the Central Kitsap race.

A phone call to Virgil Hamilton confirmed he is considering the possibility of running in 2008 — but only if Jan Angel doesn't.

Hamilton, a Democrat, is head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, and the Bremerton business manager for Local 46 of the I.B.E.W. (the electrician's union). He's also on the board of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, as well as an active member of the Checkered Flag Club, the business group supporting the proposed NASCAR project.

Hamilton's chances might actually be pretty good.
As a member of organized labor, he'll have party support — probably over the objections of rabid anti-NASCAR environmentalists like Beth Wilson, Tom Donnelly and Gene Bullock. But in the end, if he wins the primary, they'll have no choice but to close ranks behind him. Business will also support him because he's proven himself to be a reasonable, pragmatic kind of Democrat who understands the simple fact that if the county isn't business-friendly, his members have to travel out of the area to work.

Hamilton has also been instrumental in trying to inject organized labor's point of view into the machinery of the environmentally-dominated 26th and 23rd District party organizations. He's encouraged his members to join them, attend the meetings and make their voices heard — especially about NASCAR. In fact it was downright amusing watching Beth Wilson completely lose it at a 26th District meeting when Hamilton stated that labor would not support any candidates who opposed NASCAR. She screamed at him, actually screeching, "Who do you think you are coming in here and telling us who you'll support and who you won't?"

Hamilton, who is pretty unflappable, just smiled and basically said that he didn't intend to create any controversy within the party, but that his members — who are Democrats — support NASCAR, and it's his job to make their position known to the party. Wilson just fumed, but Hamilton very politely made his point.

He said he won't run if Angel does because she has worked with him on NASCAR and that he likes and respects her and the job she's done for South Kitsap. If she does run, depending on who the Democratic candidate is and their position on NASCAR, Hamilton could be the guy heading up organized labor's support for her — much to the dismay of the party. But if she doesn't, he could put a very interesting wrinkle in the election — not to mention completely changing the dynamic of the county commission if elected.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Early Handicapping Of The 2008 Commissioner Races — Part 1

Speculation is already running rampant about who will be running for county commissioner in 2008.

The main question: Will Jan Angel and Chris Endresen both run for another term? If not, who is already positioning themselves for a run, and who will they face?

Let's look at Angel...
She's done a good job for her SK constituency — in spite of being continually handicapped not only by a Democratic majority that attempts to thwart her every move, but by her own party and the ultra-conservative property rights advocates running it, who are seemingly determined to drive Kitsap Republicanism into extinction. Ironically, when she lived in Colorado and Alaska, Angel was a strong Democrat. It's the left wing environmental extremists with zero respect for private property that run the local party she can't abide by.

Angel is extremely well liked in SK, but the Democrats will try and hang her in the rest of the county with her unwavering support of NASCAR. That won't work because there are enough racing fans countywide to pull her through. Organized labor will also help her — something they haven't done before — because of her support for NASCAR. And remember, she beat her opponent in 2004 — former commissioner and green queen Charlotte Garrido — by twice as many votes as Endresen beat conservative KAPO activist Scott Henden in liberal North Kitsap.

If Endresen runs again — and it’s her seat to lose, but she's way too smart for that — I suspect Angel will call it a day. She’s approaching 60, her husband is somewhat older than she is and semi-retired, they own a condo in Scottsdale, Arizona and are secure enough financially to retire in style today.

There's no love — or respect — lost between between Angel and Endresen, and between her and Josh Brown, Angel is usually the odd one out. So from her perspective, who needs four more years of the BS she's put up with for the last 7?

But if Endresen doesn't run again, and/or Brown's legal troubles force him out, and NASCAR is still alive, I suspect Angel will give it one more go to try and see it through. But if she doesn't, who will the Republicans run? Good question, because they have absolutely NO ONE on deck for this.

Perhaps the most qualified — albeit remote — possibility they have right now is Steve Stagner, who filed for Auditor in 2006 but dropped out when forced to choose between running, and his job. Stagner — if he’s even interested — is smart, personable, immediately likable and has a solid financial background. He's best known for his work with the Public Facilities District, youth sports, and getting the Kitsap Bluejackets Baseball Club off the ground.

KAPO may also try and field a candidate, but if they do, whoever it is will get clobbered just as Jack Hamilton did. But either way, the Republicans have failed to groom a successor to Angel, and the commission will more than likely revert back to all Democrats before we see any more Republicans.

On the Democratic side, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel is rumored to be interested enough to possibly not run for re-election as mayor so she can devote the next year and half to campaigning. The problem with Abel is, she can't make a decision (remember Charlotte Garrido?), is a micro-manager, and has made such a HUGE mess in Port Orchard it's going to take someone with a strong personality and exceptional business and political connections to fix it. Any smart primary opponent will exploit her dismal record.

Also rumored to be looking at Angel's seat — if Angel doesn't run — is Monte Mahan. He's the son of Bremerton Port Commissioner Bill Mahan who was county commissioner for 20 years until he was ousted in the 80s. Monte Mahan worked for DCD as a planner, quit in disgust and now works at Pierce County DCD. He was also appointed by Angel to a term on the Kitsap County Planning Commission. He's smart, practical, leans green enough to satisfy the enviros in the party, and has his dad’s political savvy — and connections — to fall back on. The bottom line is, he's WAY more qualified than Abel.

Other possible names? You tell me.

Next installment, we'll take a look at Endresen and her race.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dogs in Bars? Why?

Is it just me, or is the proposed legislation that would allow dogs in drinking establishments just a plain waste of the legislature's time? Is this the kind of pressing social issue that demands our elected representatives to spend their time on?

If they had already solved the issues of the huge projected budget shortfall that will be caused by the unsustainable budget they've adopted, as well as cured the health care crisis, wiped out the meth problem, retooled the GMA with a workable solution, and fixed all our transportation woes, then, maybe the question of allowing dogs in bars would be a social problem worthy of their time.

Personally, I'd rather drink with people...

SK Bond Issue Failure

I have to say I'm not surprised the South Kitsap School District (SKSD) bond issue failed — even though it did garner slightly more than 50 percent. While the Port of Bremerton's recent 45¢ per thousand assessment didn't help any, in my view, the supporters just didn't address significant questions from the community in the direct manner necessary to convince voters to open their checkbooks.

Some examples...
• When you look at the Port Orchard/South Kitsap portion of the county's proposed comprehensive plan, you see the Urban Growth Area (UGA) boundaries extending between Sedgwick Rd. and Mullinex Rd. along Phillips. That's a huge chunk of ground expected to accommodate at least as many new residents as the McCormick Woods area. Yet nothing in the SKSD plan addressed this. When supporters were asked specifically about it, they didn't have an answer.

• One very real concern of a LOT of residents about the proposed new high school at McCormick Woods was that it would become the "rich kids school" while the current SKHS suffered from benign neglect where things like new books, the best teachers and facility maintenance were concerned. While supporters attempted to convince voters this wouldn't happen, they didn't adequately quell the community's collective fear over this issue.

• Also proposed was rebuilding South Colby Elementary, which is the top performing elementary in the district. Unfortunately, it is also the one with the steepest decline in enrollment projected over the coming years. This simply didn't make sense to a lot of voters.

The SKSD is considering running this bond issue again in November. Even if supporters do address community concerns adequately, will the Kitsap Regional Library (KRL) levy lift, which will be asking the voters for more money March, have an impact on the chances of success this fall? While KRL has demonstrated a need for additional funding and hasn't come to the voters in a couple of decades, there's just so much additional taxation property owners can afford.

Also looming on the horizon is the possibility of the county commission deciding to fund it's projected shortfall by exceeding the one percent annual property tax increase mandated by I-747, now that a King County judge decided none of us who voted for that understood what it was we were voting on, and threw it out. That would be a serious mistake by the commissioners, but that's another issue for another time.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What Looks To Be A Provocative New Local Blog...

I received an email through what's known as an anonymous remailer alerting me to a new blog called 614 Division Street. I've posted a link to it here. I was also surprised to find a link to us — as well as some others — when I looked at it.

To those unacquainted with
anonymous remailers, they are a way to send untraceable email through a third party source. I assume it came through the remailer because the author wishes to hide his or her identity. If the first post is any indication of what's to come, I can understand why.

From the looks of it, this could get real interesting...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Abel Didn't Speak For Me

Those members of the Port Orchard City Council who made it a point to chastise Mayor Kim Abel for appearing before the Washington State Legislature to express her unhappiness over the proposed NASCAR track in South Kitsap, were right on the money,

As a private citizen — and an American — Abel certainly owns right to her opinion, and to voice it. But as the mayor — as she well knows — she doesn't have the right to represent herself as speaking for the citizens of South Kitsap on this issue. Had she made the distinction to the legislature between private citizen and public official, it would have been one thing, but she didn't. She made it appear that her position was that of the city — and that is a flat out lie.

In my view, the council should have publicly censured Abel for such a blatantly politically-motivated action, and sent a letter to the legislature stating that the mayor was wrong in appearing and making it exceedingly clear her testimony was her own opinion and in no way represented the position of the city.

Abel isn't the mayor of South Kitsap, and there has been no public opinion poll to learn the feelings of City of Port Orchard residents — Abel's only constituency — on the track. And the Elway poll taken by the county suggests a 50-50 split on the issue when measured countywide, with a majority in South Kitsap in favor of the proposal. Approval numbers also go up countywide when the "public financing" lie is clarified.

In essence, Abel intentionally lied to the legislature about exactly who she represents. She shouldn't be allowed to get away with that.