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County Commissioner Steve Bauer to step down

Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer will resign at the end of February. - File photo
Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer will resign at the end of February.
— image credit: File photo

In order to spend more time with family, Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer will resign at the end of February, he announced during a board meeting Monday night.

His term would have expired in 2012, and he announced in December he wouldn't run for re-election.

In a letter of resignation Bauer, a Democrat from Hansville, wrote that two of his family members have come down with cancer since he took office in 2007. Those experiences led he and his wife Ann to move their focus in a more personal direction.

"Our parents are aging, our five grandchildren are growing like weeds and we need to be in their lives," Bauer wrote.

Bauer, 65, was appointed commissioner in July 2007 after the resignation of Chris Endresen, who took a job working for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D—Edmonds.

As commissioner, Bauer was involved in the creation of a new master plan for downtown Kingston, the purchase of Norwegian Point Park in Hansville and developing sidewalks to ensure a safer walk to school for Suquamish kids.

He also worked toward the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership, which, if approved, would allow the county to preserve 6,000 acres of open space near Port Gamble Bay.

Bauer said he expects the next few years to lay the groundwork for many of these projects, which will take time.

"I think that the truly significant challenges of the budget, the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership, reshaping the future of Kitsap Transit and others will take several years to accomplish," he wrote.

Bauer listed his most significant personal achievement as serving as chair of the Kitsap Housing Authority in 2009. He is proud of the "Water as a Resource" and "Year of the Rural" policies adopted by the county, as well as the Washington State University Extension Beach Watchers program.

Former Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council chair Judy Foritano said Bauer has a unique ability to bring together varied people with differing ideas.

"He is an incomparable leader," Foritano said. "He's visionary in his own right. He's an absolutely remarkable person."

Bauer proved his leadership skills during the county's budget crisis, through which he maintained morale, she added. He also made impressive environmental strides, attempting to preserve North Kitsap's open spaces, Foritano said.

"His impact will be huge and it will be felt for many years," she said.

Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee chair Walt Elliot said he was surprised at Bauer's resignation. Bauer has been a strong supporter of issues that are important to Kingston residents, including the Village Green project, Heritage Park and the ferries, he said.

Bauer took a personal interest in community meetings, attending them himself instead of sending a representative, Elliot added.

"He's been an exceptionally competent commissioner because of his very excellent judgement and his strong background in public administration," he said. "He was the right person to be a commissioner in the county in this very difficult time he stepped into."

Bauer is a former Lt. Commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, and has worked as Bellevue's city manager and director of finance and administration for the city of Portland, Ore.

Bauer said Tuesday he and his wife plan to remain involved in the North Kitsap community, but will first tackle a list of household to-do's and travel.

The Democratic Party will choose Bauer's replacement. Commissioner candidates must be a resident of North Kitsap County and belong to the Democratic Party. The party will present three names to the two remaining county commissioners, who can accept the recommendations or select another candidate.

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