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Parks levy fails, incumbents prevail

Bremerton City Councilwoman Dianne Robinson hugs Mayor Cary Bozeman after she was re-elected Tuesday Night. - Phtoto by Jesse Beals
Bremerton City Councilwoman Dianne Robinson hugs Mayor Cary Bozeman after she was re-elected Tuesday Night.
— image credit: Phtoto by Jesse Beals

Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman stood before the Bremerton City Council Wednesday and offered a mea culpa for the failure of the city’s Proposition No. 1, which would have raised property taxes to provide funding for parks maintenance and capital projects.

The latest returns had the measure failing by a 3,879 to 2,575 margin with final results expected by Friday.

“I take full responsibility for this issue,” Bozeman said. “I think the buck stops here with me.”

Before the measure was put to the voters, Bozeman said he and the city staff recommended it to the council based upon three criteria that included the impact it would have, its affordability, the people’s desires for their city, and their willingness to support it with their taxes.

“I believe we met those criteria, but the people have spoken against it,” he said.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that the city’s parks system is still in dire need of an infusion of capital funding to limit the deterioration of facilities citywide, he said.

“Things happened that were beyond our control,” he said, pointing to the overall uneasiness about the national economy, the increase in property values across the city and the Port of Bremerton’s decision to raise property taxes without going to the voters first.

While Bozeman wasn’t quick to single out any particular group, Council President Will Maupin said during his doorbelling efforts before the election, many residents in his district voiced their displeasure with the port’s decision which created a backlash against any new tax increase.

“They felt like they had money taken from them that didn’t go to the voters,” Maupin said. “They wanted it to stop.”

Like Bozeman, Maupin agreed that something has to be done to improve the city’s parks and the next step will be for the council, city staff and mayor to come up with another possible solution.

Three Bremerton City Council seats were also up for grabs Tuesday night as Maupin maintained his 47-vote lead over his challenger Eric Younger after the Thursday afternoon returns.

Maupin had 405 votes to Younger’s 362.

“With the preliminary results in, it looks like I’m going to win,” Maupin said. “I look forward to working with everyone in the community.”

City Councilwoman Dianne Robinson appeared headed for her second term on the council in the District 6 race as she led political newcomer Cassandra Helmrick 276 to 194 Tuesday night. That lead increased to 125 votes after Thursday’s count.

“My results were good and I’m really thankful that I get four more years to work with the community,” Robinson said.

After trailing by 32 votes in Tuesday night’s initial returns, Puget Box and Shipping’s owner Carlos Jara cut his opponent Roy Runyon’s lead down to 17 votes Wednesday afternoon, but it was up to 33 Thursday.

In the Aug. 21 primary, Runyon topped Jara, Trent England and Virginia Starr with 141 out of the 373 votes cast in the election.

“I was surprised I got 55 percent of the votes in the second wave of the election,” said Jara, “but it has made me optimistic. My fingers are crossed.”

Win or lose, Jara is pleased with the percentages which he interprets as a sign of a change in thinking coming to Bremerton.

“The votes are pretty equal as to what people want,” Jara said. “This has been a good barometer.”

Runyon was unavailable for comment.

Kitsap County chief deputy auditor Walt Washington said that as of Thursday the two close districts, the fourth and eighth, had 100 and 227 outstanding votes respectively. This general election saw an increase in voters over the primary election as well said Washington.

“In the primary the turnout was 33 percent, but we have 55 percent in the general election,” he said.

The election results were final as of 4:30 p.m. Friday but there can be small numbers of challenge ballots which will trickle in afterwards, Washington added.

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