Childs bases re-election campaign on track record of ‘upping’ Port Orchard’s image
By KAITLIN STROHSCHEIN
Port Orchard Independent Reporter
June 29, 2011 · Updated 3:52 PM
Jerry Childs says that his track record during his first two terms on Port Orchard’s city council should get him elected for a third.
“Some people consider me a visionary, others an activist,” he wrote in a press release. “I feel I am both, meaning I not only think of things to benefit the city but do the work to implement them.”
Childs has dreamt up and led numerous projects throughout the city, both on the city council and off it.
His first major project, Cedar Cove Days, temporarily transformed the town into the site of the bestselling “Cedar Cove” book series, by local author Debbie Macomber.
During the festival, 12,000 people from 42 states and 8 foreign countries descended on the town, enough for the group’s organizing committee to earn the “Tourism Promoter of the Year” award from the Kitsap Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Childs got elected for his first term on the city council, while planning Cedar Cove Days in 2008, and quickly became co-chairman for a committee planning the city-sponsored holiday celebration, The Festival of Chimes and Lights.
The next year Childs was promoted to chairman of the Chimes and Lights committee and worked “diligently to grow and freshen this holiday festival into the regional event it has become,” he says.
This year, he is working to meld the event with a branch of the Jinglebell Run and Walk to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation.
Combining the events will, hopefully, bring more people into town for both, he says.
But Childs hasn’t just planned events during his time in office.
He has also pushed for the current incarnation of several capital projects downtown, including a waterfront trail and downtown parking garage.
The waterfront trail, a pedestrian pathway hugging Port Orchard’s waterfront and running through property managed by the city of Port Orchard and Port of Bremerton, was a campaign vision of Childs’.
But he stood alone against its initial plans.
“I thought this alternative was impractical, unsightly and just plain unsafe,” he says, “and, to add insult to injury, it was estimated that this alternative would cost an additional $250,000 more than other designs.”
Six city councilmen voted in favor of the more expensive plan because, several said, the cheaper alternative ran through property owned by the Port of Bremerton, who didn’t want to collaborate with the city on the project. They didn’t think they could convince the port’s commissioners to help with the project.
But Childs spoke with several of them to figure out what, specifically, they didn’t like about the trail.
Then, he had the city’s engineer create a version of the drawing that both the city and port eventually approved of.
He also led the city to push their proposed parking garage underground and put a library and community center on top of it on Prospect Street, “an idea that has been universally embraced,” he says.
“Simply put, I felt a large unsightly building doesn’t belong in the midst of our historic downtown neighborhood,” he says. “That was my idea and only my idea.”
Through his event planning and capital improvement projects, he says, he hopes to give downtown businesses more chances to “audition for customers.”
When people come downtown, businesses get the chance to try to earn their patronage, he said, and he wants to give them the excuse to make the journey into town.
If re-elected, Childs says, he’ll “continue to ‘up’ the image of Port Orchard through any available opportunity, from events and festivals to pathways and vistas. Promoting and inviting whoever will listen to come enjoy what we know as home but what many call charming; evidenced by the comments from Cedar Code Days guests who came to our area and loved what they found.”