Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thoughts on Bozeman's Old and New Job

At the Port of Bremerton meeting this morning, it was announced that Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman will resign his position to become the new Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Bremerton. He will begin his new job on June 8, and will be paid a salary of $120,000 annually.

Bozeman, who was first elected in 2002, had originally planned to run for re-election this fall, against challenger Mike Shepherd. With Bozeman's resignation, Bremerton City Council President Cecil McConnell will serve as interim Mayor.

With Bozeman out of the picture, it will also be very interesting to see who steps up to challenge Shepard. I have no doubt Councilman Will Maupin will throw his hat in the ring, and there is some speculation about attorney Ed Wolfe, who has anounced his intention to challenge Bremerton Municipal Judge James Doctor in November. At Wolfe's kickoff fundraiser — held the same day as Bozeman's blockbuster announcement — a number of people there were encouraging Wolfe to change his mind.

Maupin has the experience to step in and go right to work with no learning curve. But he doesn't endure disagreement with any degree of patience, and his style is pretty confrontational. He's a pretty much a "my way or the highway" type of guy. I can tell you from personal experience that won't serve Bremerton's future needs when it comes to the cooperation he'll need from the other electeds if he wants to continue moving Bremerton forward. Wolfe is more consensus-oriented, and works well across political party lines, which may be a better fit for Bremerton at this point in time. Shepard, who works for the EPA, is a nice guy, but he will be more focused on turning the city dark green than on the economic development it desperately needs.

There has been a lot of the typical snarky commentary in the Kitsap Sun blogs from the usual cast of naysayers over this, but frankly, I think Bozeman as done a hell of a job for Bremerton. He took a city that was flat on its ass, with a petty, and quarreling City Council, with no real leadership in the Mayor's office, one that had endured years of slow, painful deterioration of both its physical body as well as its soul, and breathed life back into it.

Cary Bozeman was a relentless cheerleader for Bremerton, with the emphasis on "leader." He came here from Bellevue with no political or personal baggage, experience at accomplishing big things, a totally different perspective than the negativity that passed for leadership in Bremerton, and a vision of what the city could become. He was a man people could trust, one they could believe in, and one who believed in Bremerton.

The face of the city has changed a LOT in the 7 years he's been Mayor. Is there anyone out there who thinks any of the usual suspects that were running the city before Bozeman came, could have accomplished anything near what he has? The waterfront would still be an empty parking lot if it weren't for Cary, and the entire downtown would still be crumbling under the weight of its own forgotten and abandoned dreams.

Cary Bozeman gave Bremerton a new sense of pride in itself, and with that, a new lease on life. He hasn't been the most popular guy in some parts of town — but true visionary leaders seldom are. Bremerton is undeniably better off than it would have been just because Cary Bozeman was Mayor. My hat is off to him.

I sincerely wish Cary the best in his new job. The Port is suffering from a major crisis of credibility with the voters. Hopefully, Cary Bozeman — along with Gary Sexton, the guy in charge of the nuts and bolts of implementing the vision and who will be coming to the Port with Bozeman — can work the same kind of magic there they did for Bremerton.


  1. I think you're spot on. He can only accomplish so much more there - Bremerton is on autopilot now when it comes to it's new future. The port could use the same visionary leader to move it ahead and Bozeman is a real catch. I imagine he'll do great things at the port!

  2. Have to agree with you on Bozeman. My family and I moved to Kitsap County six years ago from the other side and Bremerton was the butt of jokes for winning that "most livable city" tag a few years before. What he has accomplished in seven short years is remarkable.
    Like your blog and take on things by the way. I'll be bookmarking you.