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More commissioner hopefuls emerge

The contest to determine who will represent resigning North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen is kicking into a higher gear, as the local Democratic Party is coordinating the application process for all those who are interested in the position.

The Kitsap County Democratic Party has distributed applications to all potential candidates.

“This has created a political maelstrom,” said Tom Donnelly, one of about 90 Precinct Captains who will choose the top three candidates.

Donnelly said that any successful candidate will need to have attended enough county commissioner and planning commissioner meetings in order to gain enough knowledge about how the county operates.

“Anyone who runs for this position has to keep their audience in mind,” said party member Jim Sommerhauser, also a precinct captain. “If you want to be considered you will need to show some political ability.”

Party Chairman Carl Olson said that about 14 people had expressed interest in the position, and the party has sent out application packets to each one. He said that he would not make those names public until after the June 4 executive committee meeting.

On June 18, the party will have an open meeting where the PCOs will choose three candidates for consideration by the remaining county commissioners.

Since Endresen’s announcement on April 30, candidates have lined up for the position while others have taken themselves out of the running. Planning Commissioner Tom Nevins has decided to run. Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern, County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson and Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) are also considering making an application.

This week two new candidates have emerged, activist Chris Van Dyk and Martha and Mary's Director of Fund Development Robert Gelder.

Van Dyk, 55, of Bainbridge Island, actively opposed construction of a NASCAR track in Kitsap County. As director of Citizens for More Important Things he has lobbied for several different causes since 1995.

Van Dyk said he wanted to build a stronger connection between Bainbridge Island and the rest of Kitsap County.

“I don’t want to see Bainbridge become an enclave for the well-to-do,” he said. “We need to make sure we understand our broader community responsibility, and remember that everyone in the county is in this together.”

Gelder, 40, has worked for nonprofit organizations for most of his career, and is now the chief fundraiser for the Martha and Mary care facility in Poulsbo.

“I would like to have the opportunity to serve the community,” he said. “This is a way for me to give back.”

Anyone wishing to apply for the position should contact Olsen (360) 698-6833 or kitsapdemocrat@yahoo.com.

Any candidate wishing to discuss their platform for publication should contact cbermant@portorchardindependent.com.

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