Elections

Election Guide: South Kitsap Commissioner

Consultant Charlotte Garrido (D) vs. retired shipyard employee Tim Matthes (R)

While every election is critical, the contest to fill the open South Kitsap commissioner seat has more than its share of implications.

The county’s growth has pushed it into the top tier of Washington counties, as budget shortfalls make it impossible to fund the necessary services.

Jan Angel, finishing up her second term as commissioner, is attempting to move up to the state Legislature. The choice between Garrido and Matthes pits land planning against property rights, among other issues.

Garrido was Angel’s predecessor, serving from 1996 to 2000 in the post, but was defeated in the primary when she sought re-election.

She unsuccessfully challenged Angel in the 2004 general election. Her seemingly obsessive quest for the office is explained in simple terms: “I care about the community,” she said, “and the people who live here.””

Garrido wasn’t a sure bet to survive the primary. Former Kitsap County Planning Commissioner Monty Mahan ran a highly visible, well-financed campaign that began several months before Garrido jumped in.

County Democrats endorsed Mahan, although narrowly. Matthes was always expected to do well, especially with voters who reflexively vote for Republicans. So the deck was stacked against Garrido, until she started gaining ground.

For a time, it was possible the race would pit two Democrats against each other and leave the Republicans out entirely.

But Matthes rallied to become the top vote-getter in the primary while Garrido edged Mahan.

Garrido has her share of loyalists — county employees who remember her first term and new acquaintances impressed by her direct manner and efforts to bring a four-year baccalaureate program to Kitsap County.

Still, she was dogged by a reputation as someone who could not come to a decision without endless study. This year, many who saw Garrido as too deliberative changed their opinion.

“I have put my energy into some very ambitious projects during the last few years,”” she said. ““I have learned a great deal about growth and economic development and will be able to take a more strategic look at the economic health of the county.”

While Garrido had to combat negative name recognition, Matthes fought to establish any at all.

He is known in local government circles, having served on the Kitsap County Board of Equalization and the Port Orchard Planning Commission.

He is a member of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO), a well-known local property rights group.

He is a frequent speaker at county commissioner meetings.

He was never the obvious choice as a commissioner candidate and filed only after it was clear that no other Republicans had stepped up to the challenge.

Still, his April announcement signaled a commitment missing in those who wait until filing week to declare their intentions.

Matthes is not conceding the generally more liberal North Kitsap vote, making frequent trips and stressing his intention to represent the entire county.

Garrido’s election would create an all-Democrat board of commissioners. Matthes, if elected, would be in the minority.

This could have limited significance, since party affiliations in local government don’t always indicate how someone is likely to vote.

““No matter how much of our property, sales and income taxes the government takes, it’s never enough,” “Matthes said. “The more tax money we feed to the bureaucratic beast, the more it grows and the more its appetite grows.”

”“Local government is closest to the people; it also needs to be the most accessible,”” Garrido said. “That closeness to the people is a really important thing to walk our talk on.””

Matthes is endorsed by the Kitsap County Association of Realtors and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Guild. S.K. Commissioner Jan Angel also supports his candidacy.

Garrido’s endorsements include U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Washington Conservation Voters, the Kitsap County Central Labor Council and every Democratic elected official except Kitsap County Treasurer Barbara Stephenson.

Web sites: www.charlottegarrido.com and www.timforkitsap.com.

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