The county administration building in Port Orchard. Voters in South Kitsap will see six candidates in the primary for Kitsap County Commissioner District 2.(Photo: Jessie Darland / Kitsap Sun)
Charlotte Garrido, the incumbent Kitsap County Commissioner for District 2, is seeking a fourth consecutive term as she faces off against five challengers in the Aug. 4 primary election.
Although the seat is sometimes referred to as "South Kitsap Commissioner," District 2 encompasses a portion of Bremerton along with all of South Kitsap.
Garrido, a longtime South Kitsap resident and civic activist, served a single term as South Kitsap commissioner from 1997 through 2000. She regained the seat in 2008 and held onto it in 2012 and 2016.
Her opponents include Republicans Oran Root and Marcus Carter, along with two fellow Democrats, Paul Nuchims and Stacey Smith. All including Garrido live in South Kitsap. Bob Perkins, the lone candidate from Bremerton, states no party preference.
The top two candidates, regardless of party, will move on to the general election.
Candidates were asked the following questions:
Their responses are in the order in which they appear in the Kitsap County Voter's Pamphlet.
Paul Nuchims:Democrat, 86, of Manchester
Campaign finance: Mini-reporting (candidates who choose this option pledge to raise and spend no more than $5,000 and so are exempt from filing detailed reports with the Public Disclosure Commission.)
Career experience: Professional artist, gallery owner and tenured art professor at West Virginia State University
Nuchims said he was motivated to run for county commissioner because of an ongoing dispute he's had with the county over a stormwater pipe that, according toNuchims, regularly floods his property. He ran for the office once before in 2008 (years before the pipe issue) but withdrew just before the primary.
Nuchims is a member of the Manchester Citizens Advisory Committee, a group of volunteers that meets with county officials to discuss community needs. If elected, hewill take aim at what he describes as inefficient and unresponsive bureaucracy in the county government.
"The county hierarchy is locked in a struggle with the bureaucracy and they both have no fear and will keep drawing their paychecks because the taxpaying people are caught themselves between their indifference and their morbidity," he said. "I should leave but I'm an optimist and want to save them and our species."
Paul Nuchims(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
To address the problem of homelessness, Nuchims would enact incentives for the use of vacant buildings, including commercial properties and the homes of snowbirds who depart for the winter while leaving the heat on. Nuchims says that's a "shameful"waste of resources. He said the county should consider exercising eminent domain in the case of commercial buildings that sit vacant for years.
Nuchims sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for the county (and the world) to rethink the conservation of resources. He said sheltering in place has reduced pollution, a trend the county should encourage. "It really helps to solve the problem of pollution and use of fossil fuels. ... I'm saving my life and helping others save the planet," Nuchims said. "Everyone should do that."
He also thinks county buildings such as the administration building should be outfitted with cots for workers to cut down on commuting.
"The county because it's publiclyfunded from taxpayers should not be allowed to have their workers go back and forth over three miles when they could stay at least a week at a time in the buildings because the buildings are heated in the wintertime and they're empty at night," Nuchims said. "I know this is radical, but it's what we have to do to save our planet."
Regarding the question of defunding the police, Nuchims said, "The police have to be re-educated." He recommends that the county form an advisory committee to oversee racial equity that includes representatives from the NAACP Bremerton Unit and local Native American tribes. He also advocates initiatives to hire more peopleof color to administrativepositions within the county.
Charlotte Garrido: Democrat, 74, of Olalla
Campaign finance: Raised $17,671 (including a $15,000 loan from the candidate to the campaign); spent to date $15.73.
Career experience: Small business owner, community activist andvolunteer who helped found groups such as the South Kitsap Community Council and Port Orchard Farmer's Market; Kitsap County commissioner, 2008-present
"Kitsap County is a wonderful place to live and work," said Garrido. "I strive to provide the best public service to all citizens and to welcome community and neighborhood participation with their government.This work builds a better community, and that is what motivates me."
Garrido said she supports the "housing first" model as one way among an array of services to address homelessness. The late Lloyd Pendleton, after whom Bremerton's low-barrier housing project in the works is named, visited Kitsap in 2016 and provided helpful suggestions for a broad community support coalition to help people transition to self-sufficiency, she said.
Charlotte Garrido, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
The threat of COVID-19 spurred the county to provide temporary supportive housingto prevent the spread of coronavirus among people living on the streets, which gave county officials insight into needs and possible long-term solutions,Garrido said."Great strides were made in coordinating across agencies.Andservice agencies are enthusiastic about ways to improve the system even further."
To relieve the economic impact of COVID-19, the county is seeking federal CARES Act small business assistance funding,Garrido said. "If this is received, we have discussed a program to reimburse small businesses that have experienced a documented loss of income due to COVID-19 for business-related rent or leases."
As for cuts to county government, the board of commissioners has asked departments to reduce their budgets by 5% across the board.
"We will continue to review the economic realities and what strategies or responses are necessary for the final budget," she said. "Our experience with the economic downturn in 2009 also provides valuable insights."
Regarding the Black Lives Matter movementand its implications for Kitsap County, Garrido said, "These recent events have been a wakeup call to most of us."
Garrido has met and will continue to meet with community members who are people of color to learn how the county government can serve them better. The county is considering a request to form a race equity task force.
"I agree with Sheriff (Gary) Simpson when he says, 'Today, being a police officer in America is hard,'" Garrido said."So is living in America as a person of color.We can do better, and we must do better if we want to overcome the divide between people."
During the budget process the county looks at new initiatives in and across departments, she said.
"While 'defund the police'can mean divesting funds from one program to another, it also can foster new collaborations, such as for public safety and community support links with social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources," Garrido said.
Oran Root:Republican, 48, South Kitsap
Campaign finance: Raised $17,084 (including loans tothe campaign totaling $662); spent to date, $4,164
Career experience: Marine Corps Special Operations combat veteran, owns and operates OSCAR 6, providing specialized military trainingto Air Force and Navy personnel; volunteer youth mentor, self-defense trainer to domestic violence survivors; alumnus South Kitsap High School and Olympic College
Root in the voter's pamphlet describes himself as a fiscally conservative small-business owner with leadership experience that will serve the county well in challenging times ahead.
Oran Root, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
"Im running to provide some desperately needed leadership for South Kitsap on our County Commission," he said in a statement to the Kitsap Sun. "For too long our taxpayers and local small businesses have been low on the list of priorities for the incumbent and I plan to change that."
Root in general supports homeless programs and servicesthat require accountability, although "a small percentageof individuals with mental illness will not be able to live independently and will require assistance like the Pendleton (Place)to help curb the downward cycle."
Root says county fundsshould be directed toward "those truly in need, including those with mental illness or in dire circumstances due to events beyond their control." He said his mother has been inthat risk category."She is on a very narrow fixed income and was approximately two days from being homeless recently. This is very real for me."
Root notes District 2 has the highest reported percentage of homeless people in thecounty, according to most recent counts, 31% in Port Orchard, 38% in Bremerton.He cites about $1.3 million in taxpayer-supported programs administered by the county to address homelessness and saysthe county should not at this time take on more programs, andthat faith-based and private organizations should be the primary sources of support.
To stimulate the economy in the face of COVID-19 impacts, Kitsap should direct most of its CARES Act funding (Root estimates nearly $15 million) toward supporting small businesses.
"Hundreds of small businesses and their employees are facing dire times and many are in jeopardy of failure," Root said. "We can help offset future social service costs by supporting those who are working to provide businesses and jobs that pay taxes and employees."
In considering cuts to the county budget, Root would prioritize funding of essential services, "public safety, infrastructure and health/welfare." He does not support calls to defund the police.
"I believe that our law enforcement agencies across Kitsap, from the county to the local
jurisdictions, are in large part performing admirably and if anything may need additional
resources to navigate these challenging times," he said. "We all need to recognize that our police are critical to not just our personal public safety and well-being, but to our businesses and a recovering economy that has the confidence in protection from
property crimes and from those who might threaten customers and employees. Defunding our police is a poorly considered and destructive plan.
Bob Perkins:No party preference, 72, of Bremerton
Campaign finance: Mini-reporting
Career experience: Engineer and program manager for more than 30 years as a contractor to N.A.S.A., with experience in personnel management, budgetingand contract negotiation; small business owner, Navy veteran, community volunteer
"I am here to provide a service to our community by way of commerce, recreation, environmental protectionand educational opportunities," Perkins said in the voter's pamphlet."I am committed to represent the public interest using thoughtful, practical processes, seeking multiple perspectives and to be a good steward of the publics funds."
Perkins ran in 2017 for Port of Bremerton commissioner, losing to incumbent Axel Strakeljahn.
A priority for Perkins would be improving infrastructure, including roads and Internet connectivity throughout Kitsap County. Perkins cites his work with federal and state agencies, including regulatory agencies, as relevant to project development.
"I am a strong supporter of youth mentorship, work-based learning and summer employment opportunities," he said.
Bob Perkins, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
Perkins supports a housing-first model to address homelessness with conditions.
"You've got to have a home before you do anything," he said. "I'm for that, but it's not going to be a free ride. People have got to contribute. If you contribute, you've got dignity."
Perkins was involved in early discussions about plans for a low-barrier homeless housing project that is now taking shape in Bremerton as Pendleton Place. He says the county should wait and see how that project functions before attempting to expand low-barrier housing.
Perkins thinks the county should look at undeveloped areas and vacant buildings in need of renovation as potential homes for those in need. The county needs to prioritize spending and should look at government grants and philanthropic grants as sources of funding for any new project.
Regarding budget cuts coming as a result of the pandemic, Perkins said all budgets have contingencies built-in. The county should look at each department to eliminate non-essential spending to weather the economic downturn.
Perkins is not a proponent of defunding the police, who are essential "first-line social workers" and perform other critical functions. Police officers provide 24/7 mental health services, he said. He would consider increased funding for mental health to support the sheriff's office but not with concurrent cuts to the sheriff's office budget.
Stacey (Spencer) Smith:Democrat, 50, Waterman
Campaign finance: raised $19,865 (including loans to the campaign totaling $10,000); expenditures, $7,396
Career experience: Currentdirector of Kitsap County Division of Aging and Long-term Care; board president of the Washington Association of Area Agencieson Aging;former Kitsap County Mental Health Program resource manager (2007-2014);youth mental health therapist (1995-2000);juvenile detention officer (1995-1997)
Smith cites her lengthy career in Kitsap County serving residents of diverse ages and backgrounds as her qualification to lead the county. She is the first member of her family to graduate from college and says she understands the importance of opportunity for all.
"I feel like I've demonstrated leadership in my time here in Kitsap, and Kitsap County taxpayers have invested in me and I'm ready to lead," Smith said. "I care about Kitsap, being raised here my entire life, and Kitsap has really signaled it's ready for change. ... We've had the incumbent for some time and it's just time for a change of leadership."
Smith's top three priorities are: housing, COVID-19 recovery (with a focus on vulnerable populations and small business recovery)and "opportunity for all to thrive."
Stacey (Spencer) Smith, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
Regarding opportunity, she said, "It really is that theme of racial equity and social justice we're living in today." That includeschanges to the justice system among other reforms Smith would support.
Smith supports low-barrier models of treatment and support to serve people who are homeless. And she said the county needs to adequately fund human services that aidhomeless and vulnerable populations.
Beyond that, the county needs a long-range plan for affordable housing, she said. Smith advocates that 10% of all new housing be set aside as affordable housing for people on fixed incomes and young families. She says Kitsap should look to other counties for models to incentivize and/or publicly fund new development or redevelopment of blighted properties.
The county should explore rezoning to encourage a range of housing options, she said, and it should take advantage of all opportunities to raise funds for affordable housing, such as grants through the Department of Commerce.
"County commissioners who are looking for solutions keep an eye on when solutions come forward," she said. "I don't study a problem. I get to work. I'm very solution-focused."
In response to COVID-19, the county should look for areas that are underspent because of the pandemic, Smith said. She thinks the county budget should be reviewedmonthly so the board has current information on which to base decisions and budget adjustments.
As strategies to save money, she'dlook at the voluntary reduction of hours, with layoffs as a last resort. Programs serving vulnerable people need to be preserved, she said.
Smith does not advocate cuts to the sheriff's office but would shift the focus of its duties to providing public resources. "Law enforcement is paramount in Kitsap County," she said. "We need the patrol officers. We need public safety."
Marcus Carter:Republican, 59, of Burley
Campaign finance: Raised $7,325; spent to date, $1,452
Career experience: Kitsap Rifle & Revolver Club executive officer (1998-present), former union journeyman carpenter, business owner (Abba First Enterprises, Bayside Shooters Supply, Firepower Munitions, National Firearms Institute); Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission instructor
Carter ran for county commissioner in 1996, the same year Garrido won her first term.
Carter, through his involvement with the KRRC, has been embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Kitsap County stemming from complaints about noise and allegations that work done on the shooting rangein years past was not properly permitted. The club remains under a court injunction prohibiting firearms discharge, but the club is open for othertypes of target shooting such as air rifles (which use compressed air, not gunpower) and archery, Carter said.
Because of the gun club's legal dispute, Carter said, he's heard from other people examples of the county reportedly overstepping its authority.If elected, he would advocate for the rights of individuals and property owners by rolling back regulations he described as arbitrary and stifling
"It is imperative that we return Kitsap County to its proper role of protecting individual rights by following mandated constitutional provisions and purpose," he said. "I want to restore confidence that county government will be a help not a hindrance to those who live here. Reducing government interference will be the best way to reinvigorate the economy and unleash solutions to the issues we face."
Marcus Carter, 2020(Photo: Kitsap County Auditor)
Carter supports the housing-first model to address homelessness. Churches, civic groups and individuals could help if the county would get out of the way, he said. "The concept is sound and should be encouraged. Kitsap County has implemented regulations that make it very hard for those that want to help those who are troubled, and those barriers must be removed."
Regarding the economic downturn, Carter said the county should have been protecting the right of business owners to operate safely during the pandemic. He said the state overstepped in defining what was an essential business, and a legal challenge by thecounty to the state's mandates should be considered.
Carter said commissioners' salaries should be frozen, reduced and tied to the county's median wage. "You lead by example," he said.
Carter said the county should prioritize fundingto departments that provide infrastructure and "essential"services, including the sheriff's office. The county should provide incentives for departments that underspend, instead of a "use it or lose it" mentality, Carter said, and the county should consider rezoning to encourage redevelopment as part of its economic recovery strategy.
Carter does not support defunding the police. He does think the concept of "qualified immunity" on the part of the justice system should be challenged. Carter strongly advocatesde-escalation training not only for law enforcement but also for members of the public to advance public safety. Carter has experiencein the "use of lethal force" training for members of law enforcement and the military.
"When emotions get flying and you've just seen or witnessed a horrific event, it's hard to downshift, but that's something that can be taught."
Chris Henry reports on education and community news for the Kitsap Sun. Reachher at (360) 792-9219 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support coverage of local news by signing up today for a digital subscription.
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Six candidates will face off in primary for Kitsap County Commissioner District 2 position - Kitsap Sun