Candidates set for NAACP forum

Although U.S. senators John McCain and Barack Obama dominate national headlines and newscasts in their presidential run, they aren't the only ones running for public office in the Nov. 4 general election.

Local voters will choose two Kitsap County commissioners, several state representatives and even a state senator as they mail in their ballots or head to the polls to make their voices heard.

To that end, the Bremerton branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is sponsoring a candidate forum from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Kitsap Community Resources building, 1201 Park Ave. in Bremerton. The event is free.

"It is important for people to attend this event to meet the candidates for the positions that will determine funding and have a significant influence on policy for state and local government in the coming years," Bremerton branch president Joan Ferebee said. "While it is true that the federal government makes life and death decisions — and therefore needs the attention of the voters — it is also important to note that state and local governments make life and death decisions. For this reason, the voters need to be paying attention to state and local government, as well as the federal government."

Among the candidates expected to be in attendance are incumbent state Sen. Phil Rockefeller and Poulsbo City Councilwoman Connie Lord, who are vying for the state Senate 23rd legislative district seat, challengers Larry Cooney and Mark Lowe, who are looking to unseat current 23rd district state representatives Sherry Appleton and Christine Rolfes; former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel and state Rep. Larry Seaquist, who are running for 26th legislative district seats; Marco Brown and Randy Neatherlin, who are seeking 35th legislative district state representative seats; Charlotte Garrido and Tim Matthes, who are pursuing the South Kitsap County Commissioner's seat; North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer, who is facing the voters for the first time since being appointed to the seat vacated by former commissioner Chris Endresen; and current county Auditor Walt Washington, who is facing challenger John Clark in the Nov. 4 general election.

The Bremerton branch attempts to host a candidate forum every year, said Ferebee, who will serve as the moderator for today's event.

"There will be introductory statements from each candidate, followed by a question and answer session in which the audience will direct questions to candidates about the issues they will be dealing with if elected," she said.

Both the federal and state legislatures along with the governor of Washington state will be making decisions in the coming years that "will have a profound effect on our economic, health and our safety," she said.

"We should remember that local government employees who are governed by local government rules have a great impact on our lives," she said.

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