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Legislators encourage Port Orchard to participate

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Larry Stokes shares his thoughts with Rep. Jan Angel at a post-legislative reception Tuesday night.  - Charlie Bermant
Port of Bremerton Commissioner Larry Stokes shares his thoughts with Rep. Jan Angel at a post-legislative reception Tuesday night.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Port Orchard residents need to maintain an open line of communication with their legislators in order to make sure local needs are met, according to those representatives.

“I really appreciate the fact that I heard from a lot of you during this legislative session,” said 26th District Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor). “I am always conscious of the fact that I work for you. I don’t pretend to know everything about everything, or even much about anything. But it’s valuable for me to hear from you, to know what you think is important.”

Kilmer spoke at a post-legislative meeting on Tuesday, sponsored by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, along with Reps. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) and Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard).

“All three of us would like to see Port Orchard increase its political profile,” Seaquist said. “You can play a stronger, more visible hand. You can be selfish about what the community needs. There is nothing wrong with that. And you can tell the state what it needs to have in terms of policy.”

“The information that you give the three of us helps us to represent you better,” Angel said.

About 20 people attended, including elected officials from Port Orchard, Kitsap County and the Port of Bremerton.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Coreen Haydock Johnson said the event “went moderately well, but I wish we could have gotten more people to show up.”

Kilmer said a bill he sponsored that was to be signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire on Wednesday, one that provides a waiver of fines for first-time paperwork violations by small businesses.

Kilmer said he first heard of these unfair charges during a Port Orchard Chamber luncheon last year.

Kilmer said he left the luncheon, which included an address by Julie Tappero, focused on some of the challenges faced by small businesses.

Kilmer found an Ohio law that relaxed these penalties and wrote a local version.

“It didn’t seem right to penalize someone for a minor paperwork violation,” he said. “In times like these, we should focus on the outcome rather than the process. This is a testament to the Port Orchard Chamber, for bringing that forward.”

Angel has criticized the partisan nature of the Legislature but did not direct any of this to her local colleagues, with whom she has a good working relationship.

Seaquist addressed this, saying that legislators eventually compromise for the public good.

“Ninety percent of the votes we cast were unanimous or nearly unanimous,” Seaquist said. “There is all this rhetoric about how the Republicans and the Democrats go to the side of the room and hurl spitballs at each other, but the factual working life of the Legislature is that we are deeply bi-partisan or nonpartisan.

“On the floor of the House, you can always see people working together,” he said. “Even if we are divided rhetorically, in the end we react collaboratively. That is one of the reasons we did balance the budget, with the deepest cuts in the history of the state.”

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