Kitsap commissioners race: Garrido back for another term

Kim Abel keeps her backers optimistic at Moondogs Too on election night. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
Kim Abel keeps her backers optimistic at Moondogs Too on election night.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

Kitsap Democrats batted close to 1.000 in Tuesday’s election, winning two county commissioner seats as well as county auditor and Superior Court judge.

“I’ve been feeling really positive lately,” said Charlotte Garrido, who won her bid to assume Jan Angel’s seat as South Kitsap commissioner against Tim Matthes. “I look forward to serving the county. I understand the economy and the environment, and the local people. I read everything that is put in front of me, and I will always be well prepared.”

Four years ago, all three county commissioners were female.

Garrido’s election brings about another homogeneity — the board is now 100% Democrat.

Garrido said Tuesday night this will not disenfranchise local Republicans and Independents.

“Bipartisanship is very important on the local level,” she said. “I am a Democrat. I ran as a Democrat. But I will represent all Kitsap citizens.”

Matthes said having an all Democratic board of commissioners “could be a problem. It’s good to have more diverse commissioners. You get different views when you take testimony, but it’s not the same as having someone on the board who takes a certain side.”

Matthes said there are several Democrats he likes and respects, and Garrido could become one of them. However, he believes in a balance of power and hopes the unanimous party representation does not destroy such a balance.

While many races on the local, statewide and national level were negative in content, the Garrido/Matthes contest was cordial and non-confrontational.

“I am proud of both of us that we managed to keep this positive,” Garrido said.

Garrido will succeed Angel, a Republican, who had apparently won her bid for a seat in the state legislature.

Garrido declined to discuss how she would differ from Angel in leadership, saying, “We just said how we are working to avoid any negativity.”

As of Thursday, Angel was the only local Republican candidate to maintain a lead.

North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer and Auditor Walter E. Washington, both who were appointed to their posts to fill the unexpired terms of retiring Democratic officeholders, both won election in their own right, defeating Sandra LaCelle and John Clark, respectively.

Kitsap Republican Chairman Jack Hamilton, along with Clark and Matthes, partially attributed their poor showing to the Democratic rout that included the offices of president and Washington state governor.

“The turnout was phenomenal,” Hamilton said. “And there were some significant coattails. We got the voters in Kitsap interested enough to send in a ballot, that is a victory. The next victory is to get them to understand the message and vote for us.”

Said Clark, “If you’re wearing an ‘R’ this year, you are paying for the sins of George Bush, period. And I’m not George Bush.”

Hamilton, himself an unsuccessful county commissioner candidate in 2006, has announced he will step down as chairman at the end of the year.

Clark challenged Auditor Walt Washington with an often-contentious race. Clark criticized Washington for late campaign contribution filings, which led to the latter’s being fined $300 by the Public Disclosure Commission.

Clark also claimed the local Auditor’s Office should have power over the county budget process.

Voters were not persuaded, giving Washington 57 percent of the vote.

“I’m really happy,” Washington said. “It was a vote of confidence from the people in Kitsap County. I’ve never liked negative campaigning. My opponent never said what he could do in the job, only the things that he thought I couldn’t do. I think that worked against him.”

As auditor, Washington supervised the election staff on Tuesday night, as the numbers reflected his margin of victory.

He said his staff was “ecstatic” when he took the lead, saying, “That meant a lot, that they wanted to work for me. And I was moved during the campaign, when people I had never met were willing to work toward my election. ”

Clark denied that he ran a negative campaign, arguing that all the issues that he raised concerned Washington’s job performance — which is fair game in an election.

As he promised during the campaign, Clark plans to continue his effort to place development of the budget under the auditor’s authority. Clark will seek an opinion from Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Hauge, and if the decision goes against him he will then approach the Attorney General.

“When I was campaigning, I was told that putting budget under the auditor was a stupid law,” Clark said. “But it is the law. If it is stupid we need to change it. If it is not changed we need to be in compliance.”

Like Matthes, Clark said the campaign succeeded in its ability to broaden his circle of influence and meet new friends.

“I met some great people that I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t run,” Clark said.

Added Hamilton, “There are several elections in 2009 where the offices are nonpartisan but the candidates are partisan. We need to take the organizational structure we established here and transfer it over to nonpartisans.”

The single contested race for the Kitsap County Superior Court, where Jeanette Dalton defeated Bruce Danielson, is technically a nonpartisan contest. The candidates, however, were clearly identified as Democrat and Republican in their literature and affiliations.

Dalton won 58 percent to Danielson’s 41 percent.

“I’m elated,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting to work. I got a lot of calls in the last few weeks, from voters who had a lot of questions about the judiciary. They showed a lot of interest.”

The Kitsap bench is currently perfectly gender-balanced. With Dalton’s election it will gain a female majority.

Dalton likened the race to the adversarial process, where two lawyers face each other “and the truth will out.”

Danielson, who was a longshot from the beginning, won second place in the August primary in which he edged out a candidate who was perceived as a frontrunner.

His campaign was based on judicial independence, and he refused to appear at Bar Association functions and returned contributions from lawyers who contributed to his campaign.

To accept such contributions, he said, represented a conflict of interest.

The Danielson/Dalton campaign also went negative to a degree, beginning with anonymous leaks about a disciplinary action against Danielson sent out by an anonymous source.

Later in the campaign, a similar tactic was used against Dalton.

In both cases, the candidates disavowed the negativity.

Dalton outspent Danielson more than five to one, using much of her own money.

“I would have liked to spend more time explaining the role of the bench,” Danielson said. “I’m not sure if one person can make a difference, but we need to be more vigilant in our choices.”

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