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County Commission: Garrido leads 52-47 percent in District 2
POULSBO — Linda Simpson said she got some good feedback as she campaigned for County Commission, District 2. But her favorite was in Hansville, when an older gentleman asked her if her birthday was on the Fourth of July because “you’re just a firecracker.”
“We chatted for a bit. He said, ‘I swore I’d never vote for a Republican, but you put a chink in my armor,’” Simpson recalled.
Simpson said she tried real hard to stick to her message: County government must control spending, improve customer service, be more business friendly and do more to create private sector jobs.
That message kept her at Commissioner Charlotte Garrido’s heels Tuesday. As of 8:10 p.m., Garrido maintained a narrow lead over Simpson — 37,659 votes to 33,906. The Kitsap County Auditor Elections Office estimates there are 40,000 ballots left to count; the vote tally will be updated Wednesday by 5 p.m.
It's the second close race for Simpson. In 2010, she lost the 35th state representative, Position 2, race to Fred Finn by only 52 votes. In the Aug. 7 primary, Simpson outpolled two well-known Democrats — Garrido and former Port Orchard mayor Lary Coppola. “The primary gave my campaign momentum and some credibility,” she said.
If elected, as a Republican she'd change the makeup of the currently three-Democrat board. But she said she doesn’t see herself as a partisan politician.
“I’m there to work for everybody,” she said.
Working with people of different political persuasions would likely be a small challenge for the 48-year-old Navy reservist. She assembles underwater mines for the Navy, helped her daughter and son succeed in spite of autism, and saw her sheriff’s deputy husband off to two tours in Iraq with the Army National Guard.
Finn, her opponent in the 2010 House race, was the first to send her flowers when she was recovering in Harborview in 2011 from a motorcycle accident that cost her part of her left leg. Within a few months, she competed in the Wounded Warrior Games, returning home with several gold medals.
She said she hasn’t been antagonistic toward current commissioners, and has something big in common with Commissioner Josh Brown. Both are graduates of the University of California — he from Berkeley, she from Santa Cruz.
She wants to make a difference when votes are close on agencies the commissioners serve on, such as Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. And she’s not afraid to admit when she’s wrong on an issue. Case in point: The traffic roundabout in Silverdale. “I’ve used it. And it’s pretty dog-gone convenient.
Garrido was in Silverdale as polls closed, and was unavailable for comment by phone. During the campaign, she said she and other commissioners have worked to simplify the permit process and change policies to support small business. She spearheaded a plan that is being developed to create zoning that will allow certain ag-related and home-based businesses not provided for in the county code.
In July, the Department of Community Development teamed up with a manufacturing non-profit to analyze the single-family residence permit process, identify wasted steps and develop ideas to improve the process. After the exercise, four of nine permits submitted were issued the same day.
She and the commission worked on other efficiency changes. Residents can file and track permits online. District Court is a paperless court now. And she sees the county as more business friendly than her opponent gives credit; more major retailers — among them Bev Mo and Trader Joe’s — have located in Kitsap in the last 16 months.