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.


  1. Yes, there are some local people who are active in the GOP "who are seemingly determined to drive Kitsap Republicanism into extinction," as you say.

    But, as Sen. Tim Sheldon has shown, it's possible to be a Democrat without going overboard.

    Even Sen. Derek Kilmer is starting to look good to me. I almost regret not having voted for him last November.

    Old habits are hard to break. Mahatma Jimmeh was the last Democrat presidential candidate I voted for. Voting for John Anderson in 1980 was my first break with the party of my parents. For the last 25 years, I've ordinarily voted for the GOP candidates -- or for neither, when the GOP puts a worthless yellow dog on the ballot.

    But, when some of those who seem to want to drive the local GOP into a ditch, if not to extinction, even go after the SKSD bond measure with bogus numbers and arguments, I start looking around to see who else I might vote for.

    As for Commissioner Angel, I wasn't pleased with her petulant way of refusing to deal with the other two when they were putting together a county position on the ISC speedway proposal.

    Angel says she just wants the legislature to pass the bill proposed by ISC and send the matter on to the county, but that would mean the tax exemptions and the use of the county's admissions tax to pay ISC's ordinary costs of development would be settled without the county's comment, much less opposition. Sure, it would then be down at the county's level, but ISC would already have the greatest part of what they want. Those tax and revenue issues have to be hammered out at the legislature's level -- and that means the county needs to speak up about the county's interest and the interests of all other taxing districts whose levy authority would be cancelled by the tax exemptions.

    Obviously you see Angel's performance differently, but that's my take. To me, she just doesn't seem to understand what is needed at this stage of the game in negotiating the ISC deal.

  2. informed voter8:10 AM


    According to your expert analysis, except for the incumbent, a real Republican simply wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in the next commissioner’s race and shouldn’t even try. In your world view, we apparently have become much more enlightened right here in good old Kitsap County -- and there’s now only a somewhat confused minority constituency who want a smaller and less intrusive county government, lower taxes, a better business climate, and protecton of personal freedoms and property rights.

    So, I take it that your point is: that if the R’s could just find a “Socialist” -- pardon me, I really meant to say “Collectivist” -- to carry their banner, we could have the political diversity of three commissioners who politely agree not to disagree on much of anything, and the county would be happy forever after? Right?

    What a crock.

  3. A crock, huh?

    If you think the local Republican Party even BEGINS to represent the mainstream voter in Kitsap County, you are either exceptionally delusional, or have been residing on another planet for the past decade.

    I have no issue with, "a smaller and less intrusive county government, lower taxes, a better business climate, and protection of personal freedoms and property rights." Personally, I favor ALL of those things. However, the party and its leadership have failed pathetically in bringing that message to the voters.

    The local Republican Party is controlled by right wing extremists who don't understand that the majority of VOTERS in this county favor REASONABLE environmental protections. They are in complete denial about this fact. Instead of its knee-jerk reaction against ALL protections, they should be involved in the process not as adversaries, but advocates for moderation. They have painted themselves into an inescapable corner with their own inflammatory rhetoric, which quite frankly, scares the hell out of moderate voters.

    I firmly believe that if the party started over, put moderate, centrist leaders in place, and reached out to the voters with a message that conveyed a balanced, pragmatic approach to the environment, property rights, taxes and growth, they would lure more voters into the fold.

    The numbers don't lie. There's a reason Josh Brown kicked Jack Hamilton's ass in spite of Hamilton's superior qualifications. It's because the current Republican message doesn't resonate with the people that VOTE.

    What's the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and over, and expecting a different result. Until the local Republican Party moves back towards the center, nothing is going to change. That's not an "enlightened opinion," but a stone cold fact.

  4. I don't always agree with Lary, but in the case of the local R's, I do.

    After seeing all of the 26th district candidates speak multiple times during the 2006 campaign, I'm honestly not surprised that not one of them was elected. During the various community forums put on by the R's, the ONLY candidate who really resonated with me and the group I was with was Jim Avery.

    The other candidates were just too far to the right and weren't appealing to the more moderate voters. After looking at the election results, all that is pretty apparent. It's a good lesson to both parties here... don't stray too far to either side in the 26th, there's just too much voter diversity from Gig Harbor to Bremerton.

  5. Lary,

    I guess the label “right wing extremists” doesn’t have to match the reality of who these people really are and what they stand for – but it probably helps sell newsprint. Let me give you just one example of this bias -- and that is the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO). From your somewhat overheated rhetoric, you would have us believe that people like KAPO’s members don’t favor “REASONABLE” environmental protections and have a habit of engaging in “inflammatory” rhetoric.

    But a close review of the record tells quite a different story. What KAPO and a number of others have asked for is for some “real” science to back up the imposition of draconian “one size fits all” buffer zones and restrictive environmental regulations imposed by the county. KAPO has actually provided real, documented science from real, highly-qualified scientists to the county – all of which has been totally ignored. And the county has readily admitted that local scientific studies should be performed, but that they don’t have the money or the time to do it right.

    And when it comes right down to it, it isn’t about the environment at all. Despite the best efforts of “activists” to scare us into believing everything is going to hell in a hand basket, the facts are that the environment hasn’t been in better shape for a long time. The crisis was back in the 1960s when the waters were polluted and the air in much of the country was unfit to breathe. Now, almost all of the goals of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act have been achieved. And wildlife in Kitsap is doing extremely well. (If we would just quit killing salmon (i.e. overfishing), even that problem would likely disappear.)

    And if you really understand demographics, you would know that the population will start downward in a few decades, and that our real problem will be finding enough young people to fill our workforce and to support aging generations of seniors. Today, only 5% of the country is developed and the environment is going to do just fine just with the 1970’s laws we have on the books.

    What the Smart Growth movement is actually about, more than anything, is protecting the aesthetic values of existing homeowners. You can see this in the rhetoric people use – about protecting the beauty and the look of the county. The people who were here before they were felt exactly the same way. And frankly, they don’t give a damn about the cost of housing for first time buyers. They have theirs and they like to see its value go up. They just don’t want their view disturbed, and they feel just fine using the political machine to maintain other people’s property as their “open space”. This “taking” of someone else’s property rights is what many Republicans object to.

    But if someone presents this side of the story, and they happen to be Republican, people like you are quick and eager to label their views as extreme and intolerant. In my view, you are just another Democrat engaging in the politics of personal destruction.

    As I said before, WHAT A CROCK.

  6. Obviously, you still don't "get it," so I'm not going to waste a lot of time on this, because your mind is already closed.

    I agree with you about the science used to justify the increased buffers, and if you check the record, you'll see I'm one of the six planning commissioners that voted against the CAO. I also wrote a column about it that KAPO uses as a handout, so don't try and lecture me about this particular topic.

    But none of that changes the fact the majority of VOTERS in this county — you know, those people who do the actual electing of public officials — don't see things the way the way the Republican leadership and inner circle (of which you are obviously a member) does. THAT'S the issue the party refuses to acknowledge. If your issues are so critical to the majority of residents in this county, why did an unqualified, inexperienced, 25 year-old kick your candidate's ass by more than 6,000 votes? Could it be because your message is out of step with their thinking? Could it be that simple?

    NOTHING is going to change until the Republicans "get" that. And yes, it IS just that simple.