Little-known county office up for election

A little-known but nonetheless important office is up for grabs next month.

The Kitsap Conservation District — known for its voluntary environmental preservation projects across the county and its farm management plans — has set an election date for June 25.

One of the district’s three volunteer supervisor positions will be up for grabs next month.

Bainbridge Island resident Art Biggert, who currently holds that position, plans to vie again for the post.

With about one week to go before the May 25 deadline for candidates to request their names appear on the ballot, one other prospective supervisor has applied.

Write-in candidates can enter the race after the ballot-printing cutoff.

Based on past voter turnouts, few registered voters cast ballots in the Conserva-tion District elections.

But Sharon Call, chairwoman of the supervisors, hopes the word will get out about the elections so residents have a say in who represents their interests.

Typically about 200 voters of the approximately 114,000 registered voters within the district’s boundaries vote in the elections, according to District Coordinator Carla Pizzano.

“We need to get the word out,” Pizzano said.

“The positions are here to educate the community in providing sustainable agriculture and protecting the environment while still being able to use it wisely,” said Call.

Programs are voluntary.

She also encourages interested residents who don’t necessarily want to run for office to join the ranks of Conservation volunteers.

Already, the district’s paid staff and its five supervisors represent landowners and the general public in programs aimed at conserving natural resources through sustainable uses. Three supervisors are elected, while the remaining two are appointed by the state conservation commission.

They pinpoint needs, set goals and administer public funds in the name of soil, water and wildlife conservation, as well as residents.

Last year the district administered or obtained more than $200,000 in grants for conservation projects, contacted 1,595 landowners and crafted 28 farm plans that outlined best management practices.

The Conservation District’s budget hovers around $600,000 this year, half of which consists of local funds, while the remainder is made up of federal and state grant money.

The Conservation District included a supervisor race that appeared last fall’s ballot.

Amended twice since 1999, state law at that time required Conservation Districts to hold their elections on the November ballot.

Mike Eliason was elected to the supervisor post last fall.

But last year’s experience proved too costly for the districts, already working on shoe-string, grant-based budgets.

So the state legislature this year amended the law again to allow districts to hold separate elections during the first quarter of the year. Since the legislature didn’t adjourn until mid-March, the Kitsap Conservation District opted for a June election date.

Gray Box: Supervisors wanted

Anyone — with few exceptions — who lives in Kitsap County and either owns, leases or rents their home or operates a farm can be a candidate for Kitsap Conservation District supervisor. Applications are available from the district at 817 Sidney Ave., Port Orchard, WA 98366 or by calling the district at 360-337-7171.

An election for one three-year term is scheduled for June 25, but candidate applications are due 30 days before the election.

Bainbridge Island resident Art Biggert currently holds that post and plans to run again, according to Sharon Call, chairwoman.

Polling places will be open at various times throughout the county. Polls will be open from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Bainbridge Island Fire Station No. 1 and the Eagle’s Nest at the Fairgrounds. Polls will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Kitsap Fire Headquarters Station and at the American Legion Post No. 30 in Port Orchard.

There will be no absentee voting.

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