Five hope to succeed Bauer on Kitsap County Commission
February 8, 2011 · Updated 3:52 PM
A Poulsbo city councilwoman, a leader of the Japanese community of Bainbridge, and a Kingston park commissioner are among the candidates hoping to succeed Steve Bauer on the Kitsap County Board of Commis-sioners.
Five people have requested applications to be considered for the soon-to-be vacant position, said Michael Arnold, chairman of the Kitsap County Democrats Executive Board. The Democratic Central Committee will accept applications until Feb. 11.
At a Feb. 22 special caucus, three candidates will be chosen for recommendation to the remaining county commissioners for a final decision.
Bauer, 65, announced his resignation in January. He will leave his position at the end of February. Commissioners Josh Brown and Charlotte Garrido could pick his replacement as early as Feb. 28.
So far, Linda Berry-Maraist, Rob Gelder, Clarence Moriwaki, Patrick Pearson and Laurie Serdahl have requested applications, Arnold said. Applicants must be residents of the county’s 1st District, which includes North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island.
Arnold hopes more residents will apply. In 2007, Bauer was one of more than 10 applicants for the position vacated by Chris Endresen, who joined Sen. Maria Cantwell’s staff.
“I was hoping to duplicate that,” Arnold said.
Poulsbo City Councilwoman Linda Berry-Maraist said she will apply for Bauer’s position.
Berry-Maraist served eight years on the Kitsap Public Facilities District board before being elected to the council in 2008. She serves on the North Kitsap Trails Association, Ecosystem Coordination Board Puget Sound Partnership, Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Policy Board.
“I think there’s a lot going on in the county and there’s a lot of things I’m interested in,” she said.
Berry-Maraist worked as an architect for 18 years. She moved to Poulsbo in 1986.
Rob Gelder applied for Bauer’s position. He has lived and worked in Poulsbo as director of fund development for Martha & Mary for seven years. He previously worked for the Seattle-based Washington Health Foundation, which helps fund healthcare access in rural communities.
Gelder, 44, said he hopes to tackle the major challenges facing the county, including urban growth and maintaining acceptable service levels on a tight budget. He wants to continue working toward the establishment of Kingston’s Village Green and the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership.
Gelder had considered running for commissioner in 2012; Bauer’s resignation “has accelerated my decision-making process,” he said.
He served two terms as chairman of the 23rd Legislative District Democrats, and served as a citizen representative during three county budget deliberations.
Clarence Moriwaki served on the Tukwila City Council from 1988-91 and was a finalist for appoinment to the commission in 2007.
“Politics have been a huge part of my professional life and I have a real passion for public service,” he said. “I’ve been involved in politics at many different levels, including as a staff person for local, state and federal politicians. I’ve also been an elected official.”
The native of Bainbridge Island is CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington and was a public information officer for Kitsap County for nine months until his job was eliminated in April 2007, because of budget cuts, he said.
He was the driving force behind the island’s Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Committee, working pro bono on the project for about 10 years.
Moriwaki said his strength is his ability to achieve common goals through compromise.
“I hope to bring a level of civility to the Board of Commissioners,” he said. “That’s critical because there are a lot of problems right now. In this climate, it’s important that we get all of the special-interest groups working together. If not, then the problems will only get worse. We’re also a small county and so we can’t afford divisions.”
Moriwaki said he had demonstrated an ability to be successful in difficult projects throughout his career, including the Japanese American memorial on Bainbridge.
“There has been divisiveness for the last 65 years,” he said, “so getting a unanimous vote in Congress for its approval took a lot of hard work and consensus building. People working together on something like can really make difference.”
Teacher and volunteer Patrick Pearson said he’s still deciding whether to submit an application. It’s a decision he’s been discussing with friends.
“One person said ‘Great, we’d love to have you’ one person said ‘You’re nuts,’ ” Pearson said.
Pearson, 55, has lived in the Kingston area since 1990.
He serves on the board of North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the newly created Village Green Metropolitan Park District. A longtime educator, he recently became a teacher at the Suquamish Tribe’s early learning center.
Pearson also holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.
Crafting county policy is something “I’ve always been interested in,” Pearson said.
Pearson said he would take the next week to consider the decision and see who else applies.
Laurie Serdahl has been keeping an eye on county politics, especially when it comes to park and trail policy.
“I’m very outdoor recreation oriented,” the Lemolo resident said. “That’s something I’m really passionate about.”
Serdahl, 58, is a Kitsap native, and graduated from West Bremerton High School and Seattle Pacific University.
Serdahl’s professional experience is long and varied. She worked as a ordnance inspector at Naval Base Kitsap before launching an 18-year career in the athletic shoe and apparel industry.
As a member of Leadership Kitsap in 2010, she helped organize a fun run in Poulsbo to collect hygiene products for the homeless. She leads an outdoors group on monthly trips to the Olympic Peninsula. She served for two years on the state Inland Fish Advisory Policy Group.
Commissioners earn $109,907 a year. They approve laws, set policies, and manage a $325 million budget. Terms are for four years, but the person appointed to succeed Bauer will have to run in the next election to complete his term, which expires in 2012; he was elected to a full term in 2008.
— By Jennifer Morris and Tad Sooter of the Herald and Dennis Anstine of the Bainbridge Island Review.