Angel mulling run for Legislature?

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel is scheduled to announce plans for her political future on Monday, ending speculation whether she would run for another term as commissioner, retire or seek another office.

While she will neither confirm nor deny her plans at press time, sources close to the commissioner say she plans to challenge Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) to represent the 28th District in the Washington State Legislature.

Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Jack Hamilton said he was unaware of Angel’s final decision, but added, “She would be a good candidate for any office she would choose to seek. She has proven herself to be a wise, conservative public servant, and the party would be extremely fortunate to have her as a candidate.”

Seaquist, who was also unaware of Angel’s plans, said he “looks forward to a campaign where there can be an open discussion about all of the issues.”

First elected in 2006, Seaquist is actively running for a second term. Republicans, however, feel he is vulnerable, partially because of remarks he made about NASCAR fans that were considered by some to be racist.

“Both Seaquist and (fellow 26th District Rep. Pat) Lantz (D-Gig Harbor) are vulnerable,” said Trent England, who ran for Seaquist’s seat in 2006. “But any Republican who wants to make a serious effort needs to be out there now raising money.”

“Two years ago everyone who was running had already declared,” England said. “But Jan has her own network, and may be able to play by different rules.”

Angel was first elected in 2000, and announced in April she would not seek a third term as commissioner. Friction between herself and North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen, as well as Angel’s minority status as the only Republican county commissioner, were cited as reasons for her decision.

But after Endresen resigned and was replaced by Steve Bauer, the character of the board changed for the better, in Angel’s view.

Over the past few months, Angel hinted she was reconsidering the decision to leave the board, but promised to announce her intentions in early January in order to make way for other candidates.

“I wish she would run again as commissioner,” said Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson. “During the first few years she was on the board, she was banging her head against the wall and fighting with the other commissioners. Now she’s working with colleagues who have an open-minded approach and give her the respect she had wanted all along. I would hate to see her lose that.”

Kitsap Association of Realtors Executive Mike Eliason also lauded the cooperative tenor of the new board, saying the commissioners were able to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

If Angel leaves the board, however, it will result in a total turnover in two years, sacrificing what Eliason calls “institutional memory.”

This idea is countered by Democrat Monty Mahan, who is currently the only declared candidate for the South Kitsap commissioner’s seat.

“I worked at the county for 10 years and spent another 20 years as the son of a commissioner,” he said. “So I have plenty of institutional memory. I know where to look for money, and know how to look for the truth.”

“If Jan doesn’t run for re-election, we will have three new commissioners,” Eliason said. “But the county has always survived change, and it is always good to get a fresh perspective.”

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