It's been a very busy week for me on a number of fronts, so I'm behind on several things. But I'm finally catching up. Here are some updates on a couple of previous postings...
South Kitsap Commissioner
I've previously published the names of a number of a number of people rumored to be interested in replacing Jan Angel when her seat becomes vacant next year. As of this writing, no Republicans have yet surfaced. Considering how badly the leadership of the local party has worked to alienate most moderates, that's not exactly a big surprise either.
However, one name I have heard mentioned within the past week by a couple of different people is Trent England. He ran for a 26th District House seat last year and lost in the primary to Ron Boehme. I've not spoken personally with him, but I did come to believe he was perhaps the most qualified of all the candidates in that race — from either side — in terms of understanding the issues, the legislative process, and the needs of the district. And I also have to admit, at one point mistakenly attributing his aloofness to egotistical elitism, when in fact, it turns out he is simply extraordinarily shy.
However, in spite of what I've heard in recent days, Charlie Bermant from the Port Orchard Independent sent me a note today (Monday) which said, "Trent England was the first person I called when I heard Jan was bailing, he said he was committed to the EFF (Evergreen Freedom Foundation). So I crossed him off the list."
Also, the 26th District Democrats' daily email had a blurb this morning saying Republican Kris Danielson, who is a member of the Human Rights Commission, was also eying the position.
On the Democratic side, rumor has them lining up to jockey for position, but who actually will toss their hats in the ring remains to be seen. Names advanced previously include:
• Monte Mahan — According to sources close to him, he's still intending to explore the possibilities. Having worked closely with Monte for four years on the Planning Commission, I believe he's certainly competent enough to handle the job, and as a previous employee of the county he also has a unique insight into the culture inside the courthouse.
• Virgil Hamilton — He told me he's more inclined to pursue running for Bill Eickmeyer's seat in the 35th than run for commissioner. A union leader who was active in the pursuit of NASCAR, he believes he can have a much more positive influence in the legislature than on the county commission. Hamilton is well-liked and respected by the business community, and has done a good job of forging relationships with local business leaders. As a legislator, he'll also be able to enhance his already influential position as head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, as well as keep his day job as Business Manager of IBEW Local 46.
• Mike Davis — The word on the street is that the former interim Sheriff and current Gig Harbor Chief of Police is very interested in the job, but his wife isn't all that excited about it. I wouldn't rule him out at this point. Personally, I also believe he'd make a stellar commissioner.
• Kim Abel — The current Port Orchard Mayor, who announced she wouldn't run for re-election, says she's going to wait on making a decision. I'm sure party support as well as possible primary opposition will enter into that decision — whatever it may be.
• Terrie Battuello — We believe having someone float her name was a possible trial balloon to gauge reaction and possible support. She's been mum on the question and didn't respond to inquiries about her level of interest.
Chris Endresen's Departure — and Replacement
One of the final pieces of business under Chris Endresen's reign will be the repeal of the placeholder zoning for the NASCAR track to make sure the coffin is nailed shut. This will appease the vocal minority of opponents as well as make certain any other kind of economic development that could possibly take place in the county's primary area designated for industrial growth has to overcome hurdles high enough to prevent it.
So after almost 12 years in office, what will be Chris Endresen's legacy?
To many, in spite of numerous positive accomplishments, she will be best remembered for working diligently to chase away a Fortune 500 corporation hoping to bring the second most popular sport in America, and the millions in revenue it generates, to our county. And let's not forget thumbing her nose at more than 35,000 local residents who signed petitions in favor of the track, and over 400 local businesses and civic organizations that supported it, as well as the labor unions. That, and leaving the county with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.
But don't forget, there are people to whom that represents her crowning achievement.
Make no mistake, Endresen is a very smart politician, Because of NASCAR, she clearly understood organized labor was gearing up for an all-out assault against her (as well as Sherry Appleton, Pat Lantz and Larry — You wouldn't want NASCAR fans living next door to YOU — Seaquist) in 2008. Endresen isn't moving on to a "better opportunity," she's bailing out while the getting is good.
As for her replacement...
Almost all of the people expected to be salivating for Endresen's job have taken themselves out of the running. Sherry Appleton, Christine Rolfes, Mary McClure, Katheryn Quade and several others have all declined to put their names forward. Two thoughts come immediately to mind as to why — the budget, and countywide electability in 2008 — especially considering the mobilization of angry pro-NASCAR forces which is already underway.
Who we're left with are:
• Anti-growth activist Tom Nevins: I like Tom personally, and enjoy discussing politics with him. But in six years serving with him on the Planning Commission, I can't recall him ever voting in favor of anything that could possibly result in any kind of future development. He routinely either votes "no," abstains if he thinks he'll be on the losing side of a lopsided vote, or suggests some kind of delaying tactic such as Charlotte Garrido's infamous no action alternative, "studying" the issue.
• Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern: This is perhaps the most blatantly opportunistic bit of hypocrisy of this entire circus. For years Stern has bombastically railed against both political parties. Suddenly, out of the blue, he's insipired to pay his 25 bucks and declare he's always been a Democrat in his heart? What convenient timing. I'm sorry Ed, but I just have to call BS on you.
• County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson: Stephenson has seemingly gotten on the wrong side of a lot of the more liberal party regulars — many of whom suspect she's really a Republican in disguise — and that will hurt her chances. However, looking forward to 2008, she has also been elected countywide twice, and has no NASCAR baggage to deal with.
• Senator Phil Rockefeller: He could have the job IF he wants it. However, with the budget a major crisis, and the amount of pro-NASCAR anger he'll face running for re-election countywide in 2008, the question becomes, why would he?
By virtue of their private sector experience, both Stephenson and Stern are certainly more qualified for dealing with the most looming crisis, the budget — than Nevins or Rockefeller. Before being elected Treasurer, Stephenson was very successful banker. She retired, and later was tapped to run the local United Way, bringing in record-setting donations. Stern is an investment counselor that is known and recognized for his business acumen. Nevins is a retired teacher and an engineer. Rockefeller is/was a lawyer.
If it's Stephenson or Rockefeller, the Democrats will have to go through this entire selection process again to name a replacement. If it's Rockefeller, I'd look for Sherry Appleton to move up to Senator and a scramble ensue to replace her. But either way, we should know shortly who it will be. And since I have no particular insight — or political pipeline into the inner sanctum of the Democratic Party — all I can say is, "Stay Tuned."