Independent candidate ‘vetting’ other hopefuls

tNuchims doesn’t expect

to be elected;

he just wants

to raise issues.

An independent candidate for South Kitsap commissioner is holding a series of issue-oriented meetings in order to start discussions about specific topics, but the poorly attended gatherings are doing little other than educating that candidate about the topics themselves.

The discussion about education and communication took place on Tuesday evening in Port Orchard’s Manchester Gallery, which is owned and operated by Paul Nuchims. Fellow candidate Charlotte Garrido, one of three other hopefuls for the seat, also attended.

Garrido has made education, specifically the establishment of a local baccalaureate degree program, one of her priorities.

“I always like to talk about higher education,” she said later. “So it was an interesting and positive experience for me. But it would have been nice to see more of a turnout.”

Nuchims said he also wished more people would come to the forums, of which two more are scheduled. (He said “about 10” attended the first event two weeks ago, a number that attendee and fellow commissioner candidate Tim Matthes guessed was exaggerated.)

Matthes said the event featured a lively discussion, while characterizing it as predictable. 

“When you get a group of people together, you can usually guess where the conversation is going to go,” he said.

Of Nuchims, Matthes said, “A lot of the discussion was to bring him up to speed. And his goals include the things that we’re already doing.”

“I do not think I will win,” Nuchims said. “From my point of view, I’m using these meetings to vet the other candidates. I want to see what kind of job they will do as commissioners.”

One commissioner candidate who doesn’t seem willing to be “vetted” in such a way is Monty Mahan. He met with Nuchims privately last week for about two hours. But Mahan is not likely to attend a forum that is sponsored by one of his opponents.

“I was happy to talk to talk to him personally,” Mahan said. “We had a lot in common. But if I am going to attend a forum, I would want it to be on neutral ground.” 

Nuchims, 73, has lived in Kitsap County for about four years. He does not know the details about South Kitsap geography and could not name any previous commissioners aside from Garrido.

He did not know how many people lived in the county prior to his initial candidate interview on May 20, and on Tuesday deferred a question about the area of Kitsap County to Garrido (who answered correctly).

Mahan thinks Nuchims is “on the level” but questioned the need for his candidacy.

“I think a better approach for him would be as head of a special interest group,” Mahan said of Nuchims. “That way he might have a better chance of shaping the conversation.

“We have three candidates who are running hard and really want to be commissioner,” Mahan said. “Paul has the right to run. But every vote he gets takes away from someone who really wants the job.” 

Nuchims has said Ralph Nader is one of his role models for his ability to raise the level of discussion by introducing new aspects of issues.

Nader is perhaps best known for his independent presidential candidacy in 2000, during which he arguably drew enough votes away from Al Gore to elect George Bush.

Nuchims has scheduled two more forums: Recreation and Quality of Life (July 1) and Responsibility and Methodology, the Future (July 15).

Both will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Manchester Gallery, 724 Bay St., in Port Orchard.

Meanwhile, as Nuchims strives to bring civility into the commissioner’s race, Matthes has his own proposal to inject some reason into the campaign process — voluntarily limiting the number of signs that are put up along the roadway.

He suggests a “gentleman’s agreement,” saying “we have enough laws.”

Matthes has yet to approach any of the candidates directly, but all three of his opponents agree in principle.

“I don’t think that signs change anyone’s mind,” Garrido said. “They like seeing the signs so they know that you are out there working. But it is more important to talk about the issues.”

Mahan said he has already self-limited signs and will only place them on private property at the landowner’s request.

“I’ve heard that yard signs don’t actually do candidates any favors, but I doubt that’s true,” he said. “I know that I’m interested to see who supports particular candidates by putting their signs up.”

“I’m against clutter and mindless waste,” Nuchims said. “Signs are merely implanting a name in people’s minds. I would be for a limitation. The less the better. How about no signs? The election should be about issues.”

Even if the commissioner candidates agree to limit signs, this isn’t likely to spill over into legislative races.

“Signs are important to our campaign,” said current South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, who is running for District 26 representative. “My constituents are always asking me for them. Putting them on public easements is one thing, but people should be allowed to put up as many signs on their private property as they choose.”

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