Voters want Bozeman to run City Hall

Former Bellevue Mayor Cary Bozeman soared to victory Tuesday in balloting for mayor of Bremerton.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bozeman led former mayor Louis Mentor by a margin of 53.9 percent to 45.5 percent. In actual balloting, the vote count was 3,208 to 2,709. Late absentee ballots still need to be counted.

“We couldn’t have run a better campaign,” Bozeman, 60, told a raucous celebration Tuesday night at the Boat Shed Restaurant in Manette attended by about 60 people. “We put Bremerton on the map politically.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Bozeman was still reluctant to claim a victory, choosing instead to wait for another round of ballot results to be announced Friday afternoon by the Kitsap County Elections Department.

“If the trend continues, we are in good shape,” Bozeman said. “As Yogi Berra said ‘it’s not over until it’s over’ and it’s definitely not over.”

Bozeman did complement vanquished Mentor for running a good campaign.

“I salute Louis for running a good, tough campaign, but then I ran one too,” Bozeman said.

Mentor, who served as Bremerton mayor from 1990 to 1994, was gracious in defeat.

“I wish Cary good luck,” Mentor said. “There’s a lot of work ahead. Passage of the 1 percent tax limit is going make it a little tougher for all of us. A little hard to balance the budget.”

Mentor also said the campaign was a fair one.

“It was a good race. It went the wrong way for me, but the right way for Cary,” he said. “We did the right things, but the people were evidently looking for something different. I was sorry to disappoint a lot of people.”

Bozeman said he knew the campaign was going to be arduous and close at the end, but believed he and his campaign staff were capable.

“I wouldn’t have entered the race if I didn’t think that I could be competitive,” Bozeman said. “This town was ready for change and our campaign represented that.”

The victory to replace outgoing mayor Lynn Horton represents a political comeback of sorts for Bozeman. He had been a Bellevue City Council member for 16 years and a three-term mayor of Bellevue — a city where the day-to-day administration of the city is done by a city manager. Bozeman also served as president of the King County Boys and Girls Club from 1985-94 and since 1996 has been executive director of the Olympic College Foundation in Bremerton. He owns a home in Manette.

What’s in store for Mentor, who has now lost twice for mayor and once for Kitsap County commissioner?

“I still have my company, Louis Mentor Construction, plus rentals, so I’ve got to get back to taking care of business,” he said. “I’ve been neglecting it for a while.”

He was asked if he would ever run for political office again.

“Never say never,” he said with a slight laugh. “But I’m certainly not thinking about it now.”

Earlier in October, both Bozeman and Mentor were asked at a political forum what their plans were if they lost the election. At the time, Bozeman said he was “at peace” with the election whether it meant victory or defeat.

“I’ve lost before,” Mentor told the crowd at the Manette Senior Center. “In the eight years since, I never stopped. I continued to work for the city. Nothing will change. I will continue to do as I am doing now.”

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