Parks race gets even more baffling

What started out as the post nobody wanted has turned into the most complex horse race in this year’s general election.

After nobody volunteered to run for South Kitsap Parks and Recreation’s commissioner Position 4 during the regular filing period in August, the Kitsap County Elections Division had to set up a special extended filing period at the beginning of September to try and get someone — anyone — to run for the spot.

In response, seven South Kitsap citizens trooped in to file their paperwork. Elections officials were taken aback.

“Seven is a lot for this office,” said elections manager Dolores Gilmore.

However, since then, at least two candidates have had second thoughts and one has campaigned seriously to have his name removed from the ballot. Patrick Pettyjohn, a recent immigrant to the area from Missouri, said he liked the idea of supporting his local parks district but balked at the wealth of paperwork that accompanied his application. Pettyjohn tackled the filing documents in good faith but said he was disturbed when he got home and read the rest of the forms he was expected to submit in order to render his candidacy valid.

The financial disclosure paperwork in particular, he said, gave him serious pause.

“I thought, heck, I’d contribute to the community and file,” said Pettyjohn, a Colby-area resident. “(But) I don’t want to give my full financial information to anyone.”

Under state elections law, any candidates for an electoral district with more than 5,000 voters must file full financial disclosure paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission in Olympia. This applies even with districts like the parks district, which don’t collect any taxpayer money.

Pettyjohn thinks this is a misuse of government.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with a government that’s that intrusive into my affairs,” he said.

Without the paperwork, Pettyjohn can’t legally run for parks commissioner. However, under a separate elections law, he can’t withdraw from the ballot, either. Gilmore said special filing periods have a iron-clad no-return policy — once a candidate is in, she or he stays in.

In any case, she added, there was no way to make an exception for Pettyjohn.

“By the time he contacted us, the ballots were already printed for the November election,” Gilmore said.

To avoid any future problems with state or local elections law, Pettyjohn is asking anyone who might have supported him to cast their vote for one of the five remaining enthusiastic candidates: Mullenix resident Melissa Lund, East Port Orchard resident David Greenberg, Driftwood Cove resident Charisse Dahlke or Nick Kosin or Warren Collver, both of whom live in Manchester.

Candidate no. 7, Long Lake resident Tom Sorensen, also tried to remove his name from the ballot after a personal matter conflicted with his ability to serve as commissioner. He also hopes voters who might have chosen him will pick one of his running mates.

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