Opinion

What have we learned from this election?

Voting, whether by registered voters or our elected representatives, can result in puzzling and even disappointing outcomes.

Based on the initial vote tallies, South Kitsap residents chose Tim Matthes and Charlotte Garrido as their general election candidates in Tuesday’s primary election for county commissioner, leaving Monty Mahan in third place and thus out of the running.

Port of Bremerton commissioners Bill Mahan, Cheryl Kincer, and Larry Stokes voted on the previous Tuesday to petition for annexation by Bremerton, leaving it to Bremerton to decide whether to honor their agreement to obtain wastewater services from Port Orchard.

The agreement in 2003 between the port district and Port Orchard affected the size and cost of the wastewater treatment plant expansion which was completed last year. Its capacity had to be sufficient to handle future development within the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA).

Perhaps many people who pay for sewer service provided by what was formerly the Karcher Creek Sewer District and is now the West Sound Utility District believe that only residents of Port Orchard would be affected by the port district commissioners’ decision.

The debt incurred to pay for the expansion is a debt of the joint venture between Port Orchard and the West Sound Utility District, not of the city alone.

While Port Orchard operates its own wastewater collection network, the treatment plant is jointly owned and operated.

If Bremerton ignores the agreement, as its officials apparently intend to do, future industrial development in the SKIA will not result in revenue for the joint venture to pay any part of the debt.

Instead, the rate payers served by the joint venture — both within Port Orchard and in unincorporated parts of South Kitsap — will pay the debt.

For the port district commissioners to state in their resolution that they honor the agreement, while at the same time not requiring Bremerton to honor it, is not only puzzling but disappointing.

As James Weaver, Port Orchard’s planning director, has stated, the wastewater treatment plant has enough capacity now to meet our needs for the next 50 years if it does not also serve the SKIA.

That’s a lot of excess capacity that many residents in South Kitsap will be paying for.

It is no consolation that Mahan, Kincer and Stokes claimed to honor the agreement while deciding not to delay their annexation petition until they made sure that Bremerton would abide by it.

Some people have speculated that Monty Mahan’s defeat in the primary election may have resulted in part from the decisions made by his father, Bill Mahan, as a port district commissioner.

Are many voters actually influenced by a belief that the father’s actions provide any reliable indication of the son’s likely behavior in office?

If they are, then Bill Mahan’s decision to vote in favor of annexation without ensuring that Bremerton will honor the agreement merely provided another reason to avoid electing his son.

Recognizing my own limitations when it comes to predicting the future actions of candidates who are in fact elected, I don’t ordinarily include anything resembling an endorsement of a candidate in this column.

But, Monty Mahan seemed to represent a middle ground between Matthes and Garrido, so I’m puzzled that he came in third.

It would be a shame if the outcome was influenced to any significant degree by reluctance to vote for a son after being disappointed by his father.

I would rather believe that primary elections tend to result in choosing candidates who appear to belong out toward the ends of the political spectrum rather than falling somewhere in the middle.

If this was the case in the competition among Matthes, Garrido and Mahan for the county commissioner’s office, then the “top two” primary election process did not change the outcome by making it possible for voters to ignore party preference in casting their ballots.

So we will be on familiar ground in the general election. Both Matthes and Garrido appear to be good people who are qualified to serve as county commissioner, and they seem to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

There are probably more voters who believe they know Garrido better than they know Matthes, since she has campaigned and held office before while this is his first try. But having more people who think they know you doesn’t equate to victory, if what they think they know isn’t always favorable.

Both undoubtedly have avid supporters, but at least in South Kitsap neither has won over a majority of the voters yet.

Now we wait to see how the political leanings of voters in the rest of the county affect the general election outcome — and how South Kitsap voters divide when their choice is limited to the two remaining candidates.

Robert Meadows is a

Port Orchard resident.

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