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The essence of Jay: A mayoral portrait

"Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill hunches over the life-like, ceramic tooth that took 11 hours to form, his steady hand painting it to match the patient’s smile. Just as meticulously, Weatherill built up his dental technician’s trade in Port Orchard over the last 30 years — a business that serves clientele from as far away as Lacey. On this day, he fills orders for dentures, ceramic crowns and molds in a lab located below a cluster of dental offices in the Woodridge Professional Center. The building itself is shrouded by Douglas fir, and access to his lab is gained through a back door. Though Weatherill says he plugs along with help from a contract worker from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, he also works on projects at a satellite lab in his home.“I’ve had friends ask me outright how I can stand such work,” Weatherill concedes, eyes peeping above shaded bifocals. “But I enjoy it. It can be rewarding. And I suppose if it was the only thing I did, I might be bothered.”Weatherill has served as mayor of Port Orchard for 16 years and is running for what could be his fifth term. Milling about his Woodridge lab, he rattled off a litany of accomplishments made during his tenure at City Hall. The most recent, he said, was the completion of the new City Hall itself. “Another,” he continued, “is the balanced budget. I helped balance the budget by giving department heads figures to work with, and from there, it was a a matter of working together. I didn’t tell them what to do with the money because they are professionals. I don’t believe in telling staff what to do.”Though Weatherill has served longer than any other mayor in history, few Port Orchard citizens and community leaders contacted by the Independent agreed to comment on his administration.John Clauson, a City Council member since 1983, was one who would comment.“He is certainly a team player and he goes along with the majority’s vision,” Clauson said. “There is no one person pushing their views all the time, because the process of running the city is more of a collaborative one.”City Council member Rick Wyatt, who considered running for mayor, agreed.“He is definitely a team player,” he said. “When that terrible storm hit the marina a couple years ago, it was Jay who got everybody together to see what should be done.”By most accounts, the city’s engine is running smoothly.The state auditor recently issued the city a clean bill of health on all its financial and administrative practices. This finding was presented despite the fact that the whereabouts of a police file on Weatherill’s opponent in next month’s general election, Robert Gallegos, is still unknown.“We don’t look at every area during every audit,” Mark Rapozo of the state auditor’s office explained. “But in the areas we looked at, there was no threat of misuse, fraud or non-compliance to state statue. We didn’t look at that specific (police file) issue because all we know is that a document is missing. We are deferring any investigations to the city.”If reelected, Weatherill said, he will continue to serve citizens just as he has over the last 16 years: “The city needs to make sure its citizens are provided with the basics. That means fire, police, sewer, electricity, roads.”When those services are secured, the city can look at beautifying the downtown area, Weatherill said, adding, public money shouldn’t be allocated toward revitalizing downtown.“That is up to private property owners. We should be worried about sidewalks and sewer systems first,” he said.Criticism pegging Weatherill as an elusive political figure who rarely, if ever, returns phone calls doesn’t bother him much.“If that is the worst thing I have to do, or the worst thing that I have done, then it will be a miracle,” Weatherill explains. “There is no doubt that along the way I may have missed a few phone calls. Criticism is something we all have to take. That’s not an excuse, that’s a reason.”After all, Weathrill said, as mayor he is expected to attend not only City Council meetings, but also meetings of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, Kitsap Transit Board and Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District Board. Weatherill can’t say for sure how much time he dedicates to each board, but he says it’s substantial.“If you’re not careful, it can consume you,” Weatherill said of the mayoral position.Port Orchard dentist Howard Minor, a frequent observor of municipal dealings who also has fought legal battles over the city’s land-use rules, supports Weatherill.“Jay does everything that is rightly the duty of the mayor,” Minor said. “He’s just too nice of a guy.”The Weatherill fileWeatherill’s personal history is squeaky clean, save, he said, for a speeding ticket received in 1967 for traveling 35 miles per hour on Horstman Road. He was born in Bremerton. When he was 5, his family moved to Port Orchard, where his father was fire chief while his mother devoted her time to home and hearth. Weatherill attended East Port Orchard Elementary School in the 1950s, and then it was off to Whitman Junior High before graduating from South Kitsap High School. He played football in junior high and ran track for two years in high school. Otherwise, he worked. As the Vietnam War kicked into higher gear, an 18-year-old Weatherill secured an apprenticeship with his uncle, Bill Pritchard, as a dental technician. By 1964, he was drafted into the Army and ultimately stationed in Monterey, Calif., at the base dental lab.In addition to fine-tuning his chosen craft, he met his future wife, who at the time was in charge of the base internal medicine clinic. Today, she is the infection control coordinator for Naval Hospital in Bremerton. The couple have two sons. Weatherill said his eldest is an “egghead,” a 30-year-old professional student who can speak and write Arabic, Greek and German. “It seems that whenever he does visit, he’s always reading a book and filling his head,” Weatherill said. “He won’t usually watch TV with me.”His youngest son, at 29, is married with two children and another on the way. He is a Port Orchard Police reservist and a dental technician in Bremerton.Weatherill said he hopes that 50 years from now, when Port Orchard citizens reflect on his administration, they think of families.“The family unit is made up of a mother and father and their offspring,” he explains. “I don’t think there is as much focus on the family unit as there had been years ago. Today, people have more liberal views on it, but I think the pendulum is finally swinging back. Everyone just needs to live out an example, because you can’t legislate morality.”Staff writer Amy Crumley covers Port Orchard. She can be reached at 876-4414 or poinews@mindspring.com"

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