Simpson seeks change for Kitsap County

Linda Simpson is running for County Commissioner.  - Brett Cihon
Linda Simpson is running for County Commissioner.
— image credit: Brett Cihon

Change doesn’t scare Linda Simpson.

A recent amputee and the mother of two autistic children, Simpson said challenges and change are all part of the package.

“Life is a series of choices,” Simpson said. “When something doesn’t work we have to try again. We constantly have to find a new program and a new approach.”

Simpson, 47, is the lone Republican running for the District 2 County Commissioner seat. In the primary election Aug 7., she will face current commissioner  and Democrat Charlotte Garrido, former Port Orchard Mayor and Democrat Lary Coppola and conservative leaning non-partisan Kristine Danielson.

A Bremerton resident who falls into the realigned South Kitsap County Commissioner district by “about a street”, Simpson said she hoped to bring a new approach, but not necessarily new programs, to the county administrative building in Port Orchard.

“I’m all about smaller government,” Simpson said. “I want to bring business to this community, not more government.”

Simpson’s political views have a lot to do with her working background, she said. She spent years in the grocery business before joining the United States Navy Reserve in 2000 at the age of 36 to work as a mineman, assembling underwater mines. In 2004, she used a Navy education program to get a Master’s Degree in Education from Old Dominion University through a correspondence program at Bremerton’s Olympic College.

It’s a busy schedule for a woman with two young children, she said.

“I always knew I was a good mom,” Simpson said. “But I knew I wanted to do more personally.”

In 2010, Simpson talked with her husband, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy, and decided to run as a Republican in the 35th Legislative District State Representative Position 2 Race against Democrat Fred Finn. The seat covers a four county area, running across parts of Grays Harbor, Mason, Thurston and Kitsap Counties. Simpson lost to Finn by 3,819 votes, but said the experience of a cordial campaign and the fact that she still garnered more than 25,000 votes in four counties was something she didn’t necessarily expect.

“Was it disappointing that I lost? Absolutely,” she said. “But I can hold my head high.”

In September, Simpson’s life changed when she lost her left leg in a devastating motorcycle accident. Simpson said she remembers the accident and remembers lying on the ground with a trickling of pain coming over her. She also remembered a broken femur bone poking out of her pants. But Simpson, with her generally positive personality, found something to laugh about even as she waited on the ground, fearing the prospect of losing her leg.

“I’m laying there on the ground holding my leg and I heard one of the ambulance drivers say, ‘She’s in her 20’s,’ ” Simpson said, laughing. “I was happy with that.”

Simpson was fit for her first prosthetic leg in November. In March, she competed in The Warrior Games, an annual military event like the Olympics held for injured military personnel held in Colorado Springs. Simpson competed in four events, winning a gold in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter-freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke. She also won a silver medal in the shot put event. She said the competition was a great way for her to help heal. Something running for County Commissioner has also brought.

“Honestly, Im doing this in part to see if I could still be me, 100 percent like I was before,” she said.

Simpson’s ability to change and adapt is something she hopes the county could pick up on if she won, she said. A staunch Republican with small government values, Simpson said she advocates running each department of the county’s government through an audit to see where money is wasted and spending can be cut.

“It’s about trying to find something that works,” she said.

Though her ideas are firmly Republican, she said if she won she would reach across the aisle and has always maintained a working relationship between the two main parties as a priority. Simpson also hopes to instate a citizen’s advisory committee tasked with finding ways to bring more business to Kitsap County. A citizen’s advisory committee like the one in Pierce County, she said, could also be focused on trimming government spending.

“It’s not just about making policy,” she said. “It’s about amending and repealing policy, too.”

Before her campaign kicks into high gear, Simpson will visitWashington D.C. this week as part of 10 Navy sailors from the Warrior Games going to meet the U.S. Secretary of Defense and tour the Pentagon. She will shake hands with high-level officials, take pictures and have an interview with CNN on behalf of the Warrior Games.

But the moment she gets back, it’s all business, she said.

“I’m looking forward to working more directly on my campaign,” she said.


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