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Voters nix law and justice levy

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Kitsap County voters soundly defeated a .15 percent sales tax earmarked to provide funds to support crimefighting efforts. In the only other countywide race, Superior Court Judge Sally Olsen was elected to a full term, besting Port Orchard attorney Jonathan Morrison.

The initial count reflected 32 percent of the 134,921 total. It showed 66 percent of voters opposed the tax proposal, with 34 percent showing support.

Election supervisor Dolores Gilmore said the county expected a 45 percent voter turnout, which is a higher figure than most off-year primary elections.

Port Orchard attorney Bruce Danielson, who opposed the sales tax increase, said the measure’s defeat was a reaction to other increases in gasoline prices and property taxes.

He also said the fact that luxury items were not taxes was “disingenuous.”

“It was destined to fail,” he said. “It was poorly crafted and poorly presented. Citizens feel the Legislature is going wild in the spending of public money, and this is a backlash.”

Prosecuting Attorney Russ Hauge, who lobbied for the tax increase along with other members of the law enforcement community, said the measure lost because not enough people heard the message.

“We ran a low-key campaign,” Hauge said. “People are rightfully concerned about the cost of living. I understand and share their reluctance to pay more. Before people vote, they want information, and the people who heard our message voted for the measure.”

Sheriff Steve Boyer was also reluctant to characterize the defeat as a loss.

“This was an opportunity to take a big bite out of crime rather than just nibble around the edges,” he said, “and to make a dramatic improvement in the safety of our community. But disappointment is for people who live in the past. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and face the future.”

Hauge said he expected he will present the measure again, but it would be at least a year before such an effort would begin.

“Working for this measure gave us in the law enforcement community an opportunity to work together,” he said. “And this will make us more efficient.”

Morrison, who received 31 percent of the vote, said he thought he did well and promised he would run again in the future.

“I’ll be back,” he said. “Next time, I will prepare. And I will get it done.”

Morrison said that Olsen “is a fine judge, and I wish her well.”

The preliminary election numbers were posted to the county’s Web site, www.kitsapgov.com, just after 8:35 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Gilmore said the county hoped to post results at 8:15. This turned out to be too optimistic, so they may adjust expectations for future elections.

Gilmore reported a sharp decrease in phone calls about election results, which is directly attributable to increased Internet use.

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