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Cheryl Kincer says she's proud she did port stint ‘my way’

At her last meeting Tuesday morning, Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer told an audience of largely well-wishers that she was proud of many accomplishments, but particularly that she stayed true to herself.

“I’m really proud that I did it my way,” Kincer said. “It was not always the popular way, but I did it my way, and I know the port is a better place because of it.”

She described her experience on the board overall as “nothing short of amazing,” but said she did have one glaring regret: “NASCAR.”

In 2005, the International Speedway Corp was attempting to form a private/public partnership to build a racetrack on a large section of the port’s South Kitsap Industrial Area that could host NASCAR events. But by 2007, strong opposition and other factors halted the effort.

“That was a huge opportunity for much-needed infrastructure and economic stimulation in the area, and that was a huge disappointment,” Kincer said. “But if that is the only one, things are good.”

Kincer said she was inspired to run for port commissioner because of a “very strong belief in the responsibility of giving back and paying it forward,” which she said was instilled in her at a very young age by her mother.

In 1997, she was elected to the board, after running as an “unknown and the underdog.

“As a true neophyte, I promised that if elected, I would build a new marina (for Bremerton),” he said, describing the old marina as “defunct.”

Now that a new marina has been completed, Kincer said she is “incredibly proud” of it, describing it as a “beautiful asset that will be there for generations to come.”

Kincer said she was also proud of being involved in the reconstruction of the Port Orchard Marina after it was damaged in a snowstorm, and helping to build a children’s playground at the Port Orchard Marina’s gazebo park.

During her tenure, Kincer said she was helped by a port staff that had “unwavering dedication and always went the extra mile,” and by serving with commissioners who all “understood that once the vote was taken, the board should move forward,” despite any disagreements.

“As for this board, I especially enjoyed being a rose seated between two thorns,” she said, referring to fellow commissioners Bill Mahan and Larry Stokes.

Kincer declined to run for another term, and Chico resident Roger Zabinski will take over her seat in January.

“Today ends a proud and very memorable chapter in my life,” she said, explaining that she insisted on a “very low-key farewell.”

After passing a resolution thanking Kincer for her “12 years of continuous service,” including two terms as board president, Mahan and Stokes presented Kincer with a large bouquet of long-stemmed roses and a plaque.

Chief Financial Officer Becky Swanson thanked Kincer for her “guidance,” and for caring about the port’s “employees and their needs.”

Marina Facilities Director Steve Slaton described Kincer as having “an extraordinary touch when working with port staff.”

Bremerton resident John Hansen admitted that he had been frustrated with the port board in recent years, but commended Kincer for responding to citizens’ criticisms with “openness and special leadership.”

A reception with cake and other refreshments in honor of Kincer followed the meeting.

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