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County treasurer takes Bremerton job

Newly elected Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent’s choice of Kitsap County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson to be the city’s financial services director is a result of the productive relationship the two women built when Lent served as Central Kitsap Commissioner.

“Whether you agree with her decisions or not Patty Lent always genuinely tries to do the right thing,” Stephenson said. “I have always admired her for that. She has always handled every situation gracefully.”

Stephenson’s appointment will be addressed Wednesday night by the Bremerton City Council. If approved, she would serve in her county position until the end of January.

Stephenson, 57, is serving the last year of her second term as treasurer. She intended to run for a third term this fall when Lent approached her with “some of the ideas she had for the City of Bremerton and how I might play a part in this.

“I was not looking for a change,” Stephenson said. “I was happy in the treasurer’s position. But I am ready for a new challenge, and the Bremerton job came my way.”

Stephenson has recommended her deputy, Vickie Fick, to serve as interim treasurer until a replacement is named. Fick said on Tuesday that she would probably not seek appointment or election to the job after the interim period.

Stephenson was first elected to the treasurer’s position in 2002, after serving as executive director of the Kitsap County United Way. She ran unopposed in 2006, and was one of 11 candidates (and the only woman) to seek appointment to the North Kitsap Commissioner position when Chris Endresen resigned to become Sen. Maria Cantwell’s state director.

During her time as treasurer Stephenson has sought to streamline the property tax process by adding historical information to the tax statements. She has also led the effort to rid the county of tax title properties, selling surplus land at auction in order to generate taxes for properties that were not providing the county with any income.

As Stephenson was elected as a Democrat, the party will select her replacement. Those interested in the position are required to apply directly to the party which will select three names, then submit them to the County Commissioners for a final decision.

The person selected will need to run for a full term in November, the scheduled end of Stephenson’s term.

This process has occurred twice recently, in 2007 to replace Endresen and 2008 to replace retiring auditor Karen Flynn. Kitsap County Democratic Party Chairman Carl Olson said there was no schedule in place, but the party would begin the process as soon as possible.

The candidates will face a vote from the the precinct committee officers (PCOs), so the public has no direct role in the selection. Aside from the vote, the voters will have an opportunity to meet the candidates in a public forum according to Olson.

Stephenson said that an effective treasurer would need a strong fiscal background, in banking or some other financial area. Aside from this, the only requirement is to be a resident of Kitsap County--although Olson said there are some questions that have to do with party orientation.

Any interested candidates should contact Olson, (360) 698-6833 or

kitsapdemocrat@yahoo.com.

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