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Brown converts (some) foes in reelection bid
Josh Brown will run for reelection next year, hoping to become the first Central Kitsap Commissioner to win a second term since 1990.
“I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the last three years,” Brown said. “We’ve made a positive impact on the county and have focused on how to build partnerships and work together.
“When I was running for office last time, there was a lot of divisiveness,” he said. “There were issues like NASCAR that were pulling people apart. Since then, we have found common ground and have brought people together.“
Brown was himself a source of division. Soon after his election win over Republican Jack Hamilton, Brown faced a lawsuit that challenged his residency and, by extension, his right to hold the office.
The court case, which occurred the month he took office, was dismissed by a judge.
And while he was the subject of intense criticism at the time, Brown believes he has turned many of those opponents around.
Robert Ross, who filed the suit, said he didn’t have a problem with Brown himself, but simply questioned his residency status.
Today, Ross praises Brown’s tenure.
“From what I have seen, he is one of our best county commissioners,” Ross said. “He has a level head, and knows the issues.”
Ron Ross, Robert Ross’ father, is another former Brown antagonist who has turned around.
“He has surprised me,” the elder Ross said of Brown. “He is exceptionally well-informed. That young man has a tremendous amount of ability and has become a very good commissioner.”
Brown cites the partnership with the Ross family for the development of the YMCA in Silverdale as the best example of team-building, and an action that will have a significant long-term effect on the county.
He says it is “just the beginning” and thinks the county can benefit equally from new YMCA facilities in both north and south Kitsap.
Even so, he uses the example to shoot a political dart, saying, “I don’t think if Jack Hamilton or (2008 South Kitsap Com–missioner Candidate) Tim Matthes had been elected as commissioners, we would have approved the YMCA in Central Kitsap.”
Brown has also won over Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, who originally viewed Brown as inexperienced.
“I am supporting Josh for re-election,” Coppola said. “He has proven that he is qualified for the job. He has a good grasp of the issues and knows what is required to get the job done.”
During the 2006 election season, when Coppola was covering the race for the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, Brown hung up on Coppola several times — incidents Coppola gleefully documented.
As mayor, however, Coppola said he has developed a good working relationship with Brown.
While admitting anything he says “will sound like sour grapes,” Hamilton’s assessment of Brown is less laudatory.
“When I think of his accomplishments, what comes to mind is how he’s brought the word ‘moratorium’ into the local vocabulary,” Hamilton said. “Every time someone utters that word, businesses quake in fear as they watch the interests on their mortgage loans rise.
“Having the YMCA is very nice,” Hamilton said, “but I wonder why so much public money is being spent on a private enterprise.
Hamilton concluded, “He goes on TV and acts like he is one of the folks. But I’m not one of the folks, I’m one of his employers. And I don’t think he’s really done anything.”
Brown’s age (he will turn 29 in January) was a campaign issue, as his opponents used it to indicate his lack of experience.
This criticism has waned over time. Along the way, he has earned a degree of seniority. When those elected in 2009 take office, Brown will become the longest-serving mayor or county commissioner in Kitsap.
Even so, Brown’s future is not assured. Consider how four years ago Patty Lent, Brown’s predecessor, seemed like a shoo-in. But she was defeated in the primary by Hamilton, who was in turn bested by Brown.
“We’re sure we will have a good candidate to run for that seat,” said Brenda Petrick, who is in charge of the Kitsap County GOP’s recruitment and development. “We already have several people who look good, but have not yet declared.”
“We shouldn’t concentrate on trying to ‘beat‘ Josh or any other candidate,” Hamilton said. “Instead, we need to find someone who can convince the public they have more to offer than what else is available.”
Ron Ross, who vocally supported Hamilton in 2006, feels Brown is entrenched, saying, “I don’t know anyone who can beat Josh right now.”