Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kitsap Sun Endorsement Commentary

I laughed out loud reading the online comments on the Kitsap Sun's editorial endorsements of Fred Finn and Kathy Haigh for the 35th District House seats. I couldn't have agreed more with the commentary from readers about how completely out of touch the Sun's editorial board is with mainstream Kitsap voters.

For starters, it appears the editorial board thinks that people who don't live within 50 miles of us somehow have our best interests at heart. Hello??? Their choices, Fred Finn and incumbent Kathy Haigh, live in Olympia and in Shelton respectively. Those areas have exactly what in common with Kitsap?

The Sun's editorial board's choices exactly mirror the preferences of the Democratic Party. Gee. what a surprise.

In the race for retiring Bill Eickmeyer's seat, there are two Democrats and two Republicans running. The Sun's choice is Democrat Fred Finn. While on the surface, Finn appears to have a lot of qualifications, his main advantage seems to be having had the 35th District's unofficial Den Mother, Fran Moyer (Jay Inslee's retired local laison), shepherding him around to appear anywhere and everywhere, for most of the last year.

Finn may be a nice fellow, however, he's anything but dynamic. In one endorsement interview I participated in, when asked about the looming $2.7 billion state budget deficit, he went off on a tangent about world economics and hunger. When asked specifically if he'd be willing to vote against his party's special interests and make hard choices about the state budget, he ignored the question, and returned to pontificating about his world view — which has nothing to do with solving our spending problems in Olympia.

Daryl Daugs is a much better Democratic candidate. He's personable, knowledgable, polished, quick on his feet, and has a wide variety of experience. He seems unafraid to reach across the aisle and buck the party's special interests on spending issues. And even in spite of his union background, Daugs seems pragmatic enough to understand that business and labor need to be partners — not adversaries — in an economy like this one.

On the Republican side, it's Herb Baze against Randy Neatherlin.

Baze is boring, uninformed, and in an endorsement interview I was a part of, he was completely unprepared to answer even the most basic of questions. He's also about as dynamic as Finn when it comes to communicating whatever ideas and beliefs he may have to the voters. He is clearly the wrong choice for both the GOP and for the 35th.

I'll admit, when I first met Randy Neatherlin a few years ago, I didn't care much for him. But as I got to know him, I learned he is the real deal. In my mind he is the best choice of this entire bunch. Neatherlin is a successful businessman, community activist, and a dynamic speaker whose passion for the issues, for helping people, and for always doing the right thing, is worn on his sleeve like a badge of honor. What you see is what you get.

Neatherlin angered lot of the greenie crowd when he moved to block the sale of some Theler Center property in Belfair a couple of years ago. I'll confess to not knowing all the details of this, but my basic understanding is that the property in question was in some kind of trust, and that somehow the salmon center there was going to benefit financially from the sale. The problem was, it was going to be sold at well below market value. Neatherlin filed suit to block the sale, unless the buyer agreed to pay appraised value.

This didn't endear him to the local Democrats who support the salmon center heavily. But to Neatherlin, the bottom line was that the Theler property was a pubic asset that was going to have a great deal of its value basically gifted away — even if it was for a good cause — and gifting public property is not only illegal, but flat out wrong. The courts upheld Neatherlin's position and the sale was stopped. But that's just how Neatherlin is, and it's that passion for always doing what's right that makes him far and away the best choice in this race.

In the other race, it's Democratic incumbent Kathy Haigh, an unabashed liberal, versus Republicans "Blue Collar" Brad Gehring and Marco Brown.

It's time for Haigh to return to her veterinary practice full time. She hasn't done squat for Kitsap County in the several terms she's been in the House and always blindly votes the party line on spending and supporting all the usual powerful, Democratic special interests — unions, environmentalists, etc.

Brown, who is making his second run against Haigh, is a non-factor in this race — except perhaps as a spoiler. He refused to be interviewed by the Sun, didn't appear at endorsement interviews for several organizations I'm aware of, and generally doesn't return phone calls. In spite of all this, he says he's actually taking this race lot more seriously than he did the first time. Go figure.

Gehring is an incumbent Bremerton City Councilman. I serve on a couple of boards with him, and have generally found him to be pretty thoughtful and pragmatic. While we don't always agree (SKIA for example) he's courteous, listens, and honestly tries to make the best decisions on the part of the taxpayers. He's also from here — something that should have given him the nod from the Sun's editorial board if they had their collective head in the proper place instead of marching to the tune called by the Democratic Party — which they clearly appear to be.

The best races for the taxpayers in my view, would be Neatherlin vs. Daugs, and Haigh vs. Gehring.


  1. Gehring showed that he has a conscience in this vote:

    "I have to go with my conscience on this," said Brad Gehring, Bremerton city councilman and member of the conference. "I can't go with the redistricting for the benefit of this election."

    Of course, the Sun's editorial board wanted to reduce the district's boundaries and eliminate the right to vote for thousands of county residents. Do they recall this?

  2. Although you got his name wrong, Daryl Daugs is the man for the job. To reiterate a letter posted to the Olympian, an interested citizen did a little research into Finn's financial backing. He had been bragging about how he had raised more than any of the other candidates combined. Looking in the public record she found the following:

    "It's true. Fred Finn had $81,000 in campaign funds as of June 31. The average of the other three people in the race is only about $20,000. Big money always makes me nervous so I got out my pencil and did some figuring:

    • $12,000 from "out of state." (I prefer a native to this area or at least this coast!)
    • $18,000 from companies and individuals tied to "real estate development."
    • $33,000 of his own money. (Fred Finn's Web site says he is a real estate developer who moved here from the East Coast.)"

    Hmm. I wonder who Finn will "represent" if elected?
    Daugs is clearly the best choice.

  3. I'm embarrassed about the spelling error in Daugs' name - and it's been corrected as you can see.

  4. Anonymous9:48 AM

    If this historical, groundbreaking election year has taught voters anything, it's that you can be both a politician and an honest, forthright person that possesses a genuine desire for your district, city, county, state and world to be a better place. And if you look closely at the candidates, you will not find anyone that fits that description more than Daryl Daugs (spelled with a 'u', not a 'w').

    I have had the privilege of getting to know Daryl and his family for the past several months though our mutual support of the Obama Campaign, and I can safely say he is the real deal. There is much to be said for someone that spends everyday knocking on doors and meeting people from all walks of life because he wants to EARN each vote! Unfortunately, I am not in Daryl’s District and cannot vote for him, but I believe in what he stands for so strongly that I have dedicated my time to making sure he gets elected.

    Let me encourage anyone reading this to really pay close attention to the difference in the candidates before voting. Vote for the candidate who has dedicated his time to meeting the people face-to-face and not the candidate that allows big money to do the talking for him.