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Democrats endorse Mahan by a hair
Kitsap County Democrats endorsed Monty Mahan in the race for South Kitsap Commissioner on Monday night, but he beat the closest opponent, Charlotte Garrido, by the equivalent of only six votes.
After the vote, Mahan said that "It feels good that the people in the party think that I will be a good candidate." Garrido called the result "disappointing" but said it would not change her strategy. "I have put a solid campaign together and have a lot of work in front of me," she said.
The vote represented a statistical dead heat, and demonstrated a desire for the contest to continue. About 70 Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) were given weighted ballots, that determined the size of their constituency. This translated into 522 possible votes, making 262 the majority. Mahan earned 264, with Garrido polling 258.
A third candidate, Paul Nuchims, announced his intention to run for the seat at Monday's meeting and also addressed the group. He failed to gain a single vote, but said that his inability to get the party's endorsement would not affect his decision to run.
Nuchims, a member of the Kitsap County Art Board, said his platform included support for passenger ferries, more bike and pedestrian trails along major thoroughfares and a four year university.
Monday's action does not prevent those who did not receive the endorsement from running. It will allow Mahan to call himself the "approved" candidate in the voters pamphlet and in advertisements.
"Charlotte has put in a lot of time with the party and this vote reflects this," Mahan said. "I didn't care much for this process. I think it was done too early, and should have occurred after the filing deadline. But it doesn't change my strategy, which is to appear on doorsteps in South Kitsap. It wouldn"t have changed my strategy either way."
One of the options available to the party was to not make any endorsement at all, and allow the voters to decide without guidance. Garrido said she understood this option would be explored. Party official Jim Sommerhauser said he planned to bring that matter to the floor but "decided not to" at the last minute.
Mahan said that Garrido had the initial advantage with the PCOs due to her one term as South Kitsap Commissioner. However, he has chipped away at that advantage. Bremerton PCO Patricia Graf-Hoke, who did not say how she voted, said she appreciated how Mahan sent regular notes to the PCOs "but did not include a 'please remit' message every time."
These three Democrats, along with any other candidate that files by the June 6 deadline, will face off in the August 19 primary along with Republican Tim Matthes. After South Kitsap selects the top two candidates, they will meet in the Nov. 4 general election, in front of all Kitsap County voters.