Port won’t ask for public vote on SEED project

The Port of Bremerton’s Board of Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Thursday night against having a public advisory vote on whether it should issue general obligation bonds to pay for part of its Sustainable Energy and Economic Development project.

The item was added to the Nov. 13 agenda by Commissioner Larry Stokes, who first presented the idea at two SEED meetings the port hosted Wednesday night, and he cast the only yes vote.

Commissioner Bill Mahan first appeared to support Stokes’ idea, saying he would have liked to have had an advisory vote back when the idea of bringing a NASCAR track to the area was being considered.

“Your idea has some merit — it is a good idea to get the public’s input as much as we can,” Mahan said, although he added that he did not agree with Stokes’ suggestion of distributing mailers to the voters in the port district, and said that instead the vote should be handled through the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office to avoid all appearance of impropriety.

Either way, however, Mahan said he was “not prepared to vote on this tonight,” and suggested the matter be tabled for further discussion.

Board President Cheryl Kincer said she did not support having an advisory vote.

“I guess I’m the odd person out,” Kincer said, explaining that she took to heart some of the statements made the previous night about how the board should “get (its) act together, provide some leadership and do the work (it was) elected to do.”

Most of the citizens who addressed the board supported the idea of a vote.

“I am still very concerned about the SEED project, and I am excited about you giving us a vote, even if it is only advisory,” said Bremerton resident Kathleen Seamans.

John Hanson, also a Bremerton resident, agreed, and said “it still showed leadership to get more information from the people.”

A third Bremerton resident, Donya Keating, disagreed.

“Your time and money would be better spent lobbying the county and the cities to contribute money so that you didn’t need to issue GO bonds,” Keating said. “Show this county how you can lead, and not placate or appease.”

Her husband, Charles Keating, who presented his comments via cell phone to Kincer, who read them out loud, said putting whether or not to go forward with SEED up to a vote would be akin to letting “sound bites, anger and fear” make the decision for you.

After the public comments, Mahan said again that he would like to table the vote, but Stokes said he was calling for a vote on the motion that had been moved and seconded.

He then voted yes, with Kincer and Mahan voting no.

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