Kitsap’s candidates crunch top issues

Most of the Democrat candidates either stayed home Wednesday night or had other things to do judging by the participation in the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owner’s forum at the Silverdale Community Center.

Notably absent were four-term Rep. Patricia Lantz from the 26th District, Rep. Kathryn Haigh from the 35th District, 23rd District Senate candidate Phil Rockefeller, 23rd District House candidates Terrell Ducheane and Sherry Appleton and Commissioner Jan Angel, a Republican, who had prior commitments in Spokane.

Not that the Democrats target audience was there en masse. When 35th District Rep. Bill Eickmeyer asked for a show of hands of Democrats present, only one couple out of the crowd of approximately 25 people raised their hands.

Many of the night’s questions were culled from the decidedly pro-business/pro-growth audience. When asked how he’d solve the problem of one-quarter of the county’s property being off the tax roles, commissioner candidate Scott Henden replied that the county doesn’t do enough to encourage businesses to grow here. Commissioner Chris Endresen said part of the solution was in the revitalization of Bremerton and seeing a healthy private sector.

Henden also disagreed with the county’s “Smart Growth” plan, saying he’s not in favor for “pack ‘em and stack ‘em” as the only market choice. Charlotte Garrido, a Democrat who’s running against Angel, said the county has a written comprehensive plan and “we can shape it the way we want to.” Endresen said she favors responsible planning and “The decisions we make today will decide what we look like in 20-40 years.”

Suprisingly, all of the candidates and incumbents agreed that the state’s Growth Management Act was in need of revision.

“The GMA is failed legislation,” 35th District candidate Bob Benze said. “The legislation was made to protect against nuisances and now it needs to be revisited and revamped.”

“The best way to deal with (GMA) is to make it work,” Eickmeyer said. “We need to build it from the ground up.”

“It’s out of control,” 23rd District Rep. Beverly Woods said. “It hasn’t helped affordable housing and we can do it better.”

Absentee ballots will be mailed out around Oct. 19. The general election is Nov. 2.

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