SK commissioner race has new face

Kitsap County Democrats meeting on Monday to endorse either Monty Mahan or Charlotte Garrido in the South Kitsap commissioner’s race got a surprise when a third candidate began passing out fliers.

And while they politely listened to Paul Nuchims’ pitch, none of those present saw fit to support him with a vote.

The party favored Mahan, but by a hair. 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.

After the vote, Mahan said, “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.

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 voter’s 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 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 disclose how she voted, said she appreciated how Mahan sent regular notes to the PCOs “but did not include a ‘please remit’ message every time.”

Nuchims was unfazed about the lack of apparent support, and said it would not change his decision to run or the scope of his campaign.

Rather, it proved his point — that political parties have little or no imagination.

Nuchims, 73, said he is ready to serve and that his experience prepares him for the job.

On the other hand, he admits his current chances range from slim to none.

His role in the campaign, he believes, is to elevate the discussion and direct its substance to important issues. He compares himself to Ralph Nader, who has run for the presidency several times with the purpose of stimulating political thought.

“I am doing this for the betterment of the community,” he said. “It is not to just win a race. I seek to change people’s minds about the purpose of their lives. I am looking at the future, and how we can make changes.”

To this end, he is hosting four interactive sessions, on June 3, June 17, July 1 and July 15, at his gallery at 724 Bay St. in Port Orchard.

He plans to invite the other candidates for county commissioner, as well as those currently serving.

He hopes everyone will use this opportunity to discuss the important issues that face the county.

Nuchims favors the construction of a network of bike trails throughout the region in order to develop an alternative transportation strategy.

The next step would be to develop a bike rental service, where commuters in one location could rent a bike in one location and ride it to another.

He said this could be a profitable business the county could manage.

Additionally, he supports the development of a network of volunteers in order to construct and maintain the bike trail infrastructure.

He believes that volunteerism is the key to a strong community. “I think that people should recognize what needs to be done,” he said. “Then, they should be able to go out and do it.”

Nuchims worked as an art professor at West Virginia State University over a 35-year career. During that time he tilted at other political windmills, running for both U.S. Senate seats and the governorship.

He ran as both a Democrat as a Republican. Even as he unsuccessfully sought support from the local Democratic Party, he is now running as an Independent.

“I wasn’t running to win,” he said. “The purpose was educational and to help people understand their lives how they can effect change for the better. And I enjoyed the debates and the discussion. If I didn’t enjoy running, it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

Nuchims has lived in Kitsap County for about three years, and says the local views take his breath away on a daily basis.

“I have been involved in issues wherever I have lived,” he said. “And regardless of whether I am elected, I have won already.”

Nuchims will join Democrats Garrido and Mahan, along with Republican Tim Matthes, in the Aug. 19 primary, facing voters in South Kitsap.

The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 4 general election, which is countywide.

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