Mayoral candidates debate at final forum before election

Four of the five candidates for mayor of Bremerton met Tuesday, one week from election day, to have one last question-and-answer session with the public.

TeleTech hosted the event at its East Bremerton facility featuring all of the candidates except Mike Shepherd who was unable to attend due to his participation in the national senior games event.

Each candidate was given time to introduce themselves and give attendees a peek into their individual ideas for Bremerton and, specifically, its workforce.

Upon completion of the introductions, TeleTech General Manager Andreas Wieman and TeleTech agent Graham Skelly asked a series of questions on topics ranging from building codes to their individual plans for the growth of the city.

Wieman asked the candidates to start by talking about their biggest mistake while in office or in their business careers.

Daryl Daugs, the first candidate to reply, spoke of a time he was working to create child welfare reform legislation. He said a large corporation opposed the legislation as they had written it and he opted to compromise some of the key points of the bill to get it passed.

Will Maupin, an eight-year member of the Bremerton City Council, said his biggest mistake was supporting the consolidation of the Bremerton Housing Authority and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority to form a regional unit. He said his vote for the measure did not help it pass, but looking back, it would have been very bad for the city had it gone through.

Patty Lent, former county commissioner, said she voted to raise impact fees in an effort to raise money for parks and roads, but the fees were never assessed as funds were found elsewhere to alleviate the problem. Although she made sure the fees were not to be increased unless absolutely necessary, she said she regrets voting to raise them in the first place.

Carlos Jara, the 38-year-old owner of Harborside Market, said his biggest mistake was not accepting the nomination to be president of the Bremerton Downtown Business Association.

All of the candidates agree building the population is key to overcoming the financial challenges the city will face in the next few years, but when it comes to cuts that will inevitably need to be made before economic recovery takes place, the differences are great.

Maupin said cuts should be made evenly, “across the board,” because all programs are important to someone and no one program should be eliminated completely.

Jara said the cuts that are needed to be made are already in place and the mayor’s focus should be on diversification of jobs in the city. He said Bremerton has spent too long relying on monies from automobile and home sales and new industries must be brought in to alleviate even bigger cuts in 2011.

Lent said the city needs to get people back to work, consolidate purchases and get businesses involved in certain aspects of the city’s upkeep, like watering the hanging plants located in front of their businesses.

Daugs said that cuts will need to be made to keep the city’s budget under control, but he does not believe in the philosophy of cutting everything.

“If you cut off a little of each of my toes, to the first knuckle, I will not be able to walk,” he said. “But if you cut off my whole pinkie toe, it will hurt, but I will still be able to walk.”

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