Voters Reject Sales Tax Increase

The initial primary election vote count indicated that Kitsap County voters soundly defeated a .15 sales tax earmarked to provide funds to support crimefighting efforts. In the only other countywide race, Superior Court Judge Sally Olsen was elected to a full term, besting Port Orchard attorney Jonathan Morrison.

The initial count reflected 32 percent of the 134,921 total. 66.05 percent of voters opposed the proposal, with 33.95 percent showing support.

In an upset, the two incumbent members of the Port Orchard City Council, Todd Cramer and Ron Rider, were defeated in their re-election bids.

Port Orchard attorney Bruce Danielson, who opposed the sales tax increase, said the measure’s defeat was a reaction to other increases in gasoline prices and property taxes. He also said the fact that luxury items were not taxes was “disingenuous.”

“It was destined to fail,” he said. “It was poorly crafted and poorly presented. Citizens feel the legislature is going wild in the spending of public money, and this is a backlash.”

Prosecuting Attorney Russ Hauge, who lobbied for the tax increase along with other members of the law enforcement community, said the measure lost because not enough people heard the message.

“We ran a low key campaign,” Hauge said. “People are rightfully concerned about the cost of living. I understand and share their reluctance to pay more. Before people vote they want information, and the people who heard our message voted for the measure.”

Sheriff Steve Boyer was also averse to calling the defeat a loss.

“This was an opportunity to take a big bite out of crime rather than just nibble around the edges,” he said. “And to make a dramatic improvement in the safety of our community. But disappointment is for people who live in the past. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and face the future.”

Hauge said he expected he will present the measure again, but it would be at least a year before such an effort would begin.

“Working for this measure gave us in the law enforcement community an opportunity to work together,” he said. “And this will make us more efficient.”

Morrison, who received 31.3 percent of the vote, said he thought he did well and promised that he would run again in the future.

“I’ll be back,” he said. “Next time I will prepare. And I will get it done.”

Morrison said that Olsen “is a fine judge, and I wish her well.”

In the Port Orchard contest, former mayor Leslie J. Wetherill will face Fred Chang for the seat now held by Rider, while Melode Sapp and Tye C. Moore will be in a runoff for Cramer’s seat in the November 8 General Election.

The preliminary election numbers were posted to the county’s web site, just before 9 p.m. New results will be posted each day as long as there are 25 new ballots counted.

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