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Council candidates square off at Eggs and Issues
The first Bremerton Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues forum at the Family Pancake House on Kitsap Way drew not only a full house Thursday morning, but a few fireworks as well from three of the four candidates for the Bremerton City Council District 4 seat.
Trent England, Carlos Jara and Roy Runyon each made their case to the more than 20 people gathered to listen each of them explain why they should represent the city's fourth district. Virginia Starr, who is also vying for the post, was not in attendance.
The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 21 primary will square off in the Nov. 6 general election to replace outgoing Councilwoman Wendy Priest.
"I can't argue with my fellow candidates. They all have good ideas," Runyon said. "However, I believe there is only one choice."
Instead of having a council member who represents the mayor and will "rubber stamp anything he does," the district needs someone who will represent the entire district and do what's best for it, Runyon said.
England was recently endorsed by Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman as Priest's successor.
For England, being a council member means the opportunity to continue building relationships throughout the community and finding solutions to the issues facing the city.
"So much of it is getting out and building relationships," England said. "I want to see those kinds of opportunities increase."
As a small business owner Jara admitted that he's "a small business owner and not a politician."
"I want to continue being part of the revitalization regardless as to what happens in the election," Jara said. "I can't do it without you. I need your help."
Although expanding the city's revitalization efforts were part of the early morning discussion, public safety dominated the hourlong debate.
When an audience member asked England about his previously expressed stance against federal funding for local law enforcement through the Community Oriented Policing Services program, England attempted to clarify his position on the issue.
While he is against federal funding for personnel, England said he supports federal funding for capital law enforcement projects such as upgrade communications systems.
"I don't think we want to give control of our police department to people in D.C.," England said.
Having more officers on the streets, no matter where the funding comes from, is critical, Runyon said.
"If there is a big gap, we need to fill that gap," Runyon said. "Hometown security is homeland security."
Jara agreed that the city does need more officers on the streets, but questioned the implications of having a high level of federal involvement.
Councilman Cecil McConnell said one of the issues with the COPS program is that the federal funding decreases each year until the city is left with the task of having to pay for the entire cost of having the additional officers on the street.
"The funding solution should be on the local level," Jara said.
England called programs like the COPS program "gimmicks" and that the real funding issues should be resolved at the local level.
Runyon disagreed and said he wants to see an influx of officers on the street as soon as possible.
"We can deal with the funding issue a little bit down the road," Runyon said.