Van Zee, Rider square off

Ron Rider is trying to make the step from grassroots advocacy to first-hand policy making, challenging incumbent Warren Van Zee for Port Orchard City Council position 6.

Van Zee is running for his third term. He hopes to spend that term making Port Orchard a more desirable community to live in by cleaning up the less pleasant areas and fostering a sense of ownership.

“I think if a town looks nice, then you get people who like the community,” Van Zee said. “If the town looks junky, you get junky people.”

The establishment of a full-time code enforcement official was one of his proudest achievements of his time on the council, and he wants to continue in that direction.

Van Zee said he wants to make property owners responsible for the upkeep of their properties, which means no junked cars and jungly landscaping. He also wants to work with landlords toward that end, since more than 50 percent of Port Orchard residents rent, rather than own, their properties.

Rider wants the council to focus more on the needs of the people. He doesn’t see a strong link between the council and the public and hopes to amend that — perhaps through the use of a website.

“I don’t have political ambitions,” Rider said. “I just want to represent what the people want.”

Part of that, he sees, is the revitalization of the downtown area. Rider gave as an example the street fair he has organized the past two summers. He sees community activities like that as a good way to perk up life in Port Orchard and bring in revenue. He also wants to annex the Bethel Corridor as another way to build revenue for the city.

Van Zee also supports annexation. He predicts McCormick Woods will be open for annexation in less than a year, thereby bringing even more money into the city through property taxes.

Although Van Zee sees Port Orchard moving into the role of a bedroom community for King County, rather than Bremerton, he still feels the city should try and attract new industries to the area. He sees potential in the “clean industries” such as telecommunications and computers. He wants to expedite bringing fiber optics into the area in order to leave the door open for the businesses he mentioned.

“It takes some cooperation in order to make that happen,” Van Zee said. “It’ll be something that’ll be really good for us if we can get it.”

Rider wants to improve community welfare by beefing up the police force. He points out that Port Orchard police handle more calls per officer than even officers in Pierce County. He also wants to help the department fund an officer on WSNET— the local drug enforcement team. Rider believes the information the department could pick up via that officer would be a big help in cracking down on local methamphetamine cooks and distributors.

“I think they’ll just be a lot more effective,” he said. “Just about everybody around here has an officer on WSNET — except Port Orchard.”

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