Garrido DC trip lays groundwork for the future

When a county commissioner visits the nation’s capitol, he or she usually pays courtesy visits to the state’s senators and representatives.

Last week, South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido attended functions with four cabinet secretaries and managed to present the county’s concerns to the newly appointed agency heads.

“I had some wonderful discussions,” Garrido said of her meetings. “I got the feeling that they really want to work with local governments. We are on the ground level, and can help them achieve the goal of bringing more jobs to more people.”

Garrido met Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, although the meetings were not private.

Donovan expressed his agency’s support for sustainability, and announced a new department has been created for that purpose.

Kitsap will have an inside track here, since it will most likely be headed by former King County Executive Ron Sims.

Garrido attended the annual National Association of Counties meeting, and was traveling in her capacity as chair of the Regional Executive Board for both Workforce Investment Act and the Puget Sound Regional Network.

The trip, which cost approximately $2,000, was funded by the county’s Department of Personnel and Human Services through grant money.

“If it had taken money from the general fund, I would not have gone,” she said. “I also paid for the last night at the hotel myself because I wasn’t able to get the meetings that I wanted.”

Garrido spent much of her time in D.C. laying the groundwork for receipt of stimulus money. During the months since the stimulus package was announced, Kitsap has winnowed out the most important projects.

This process had to be done several times, since the requirements kept changing.

Garrido returned to work on Monday, to face a possible additional round of budget cuts.

Garrido also met with staff members for Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and with U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island), to discuss stimulus requests that Kitsap County will be submitting.

Some of the projects include:

• Kitsap County Courthouse renovation and improvement project;

• the Food & Farm Policy Council;

• the Bethel Road widening project;

• education, training and human services programs;

• broadband infrastructure;

• wastewater treatment plant upgrades;

• park improvements; and,

• salmon habitat and flood plain enhancement projects.

“This was a constructive trip,” Garrido said. “I was able to lay the groundwork for the future.”

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