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It's mostly change for Poulsbo City Council

POULSBO — Unofficial counts this week showed two of the three seats up for grabs on Poulsbo’s City Council handed over to political newcomers, as just one incumbent looked to be claiming victory.

Positions 1 through 4 on the seven-seat council were up for re-election. Position 4 incumbent Jeff McGinty will serve another four years, as he ran unchallenged.

Results gave Linda Berry-Maraist a lead over incumbent Mike Regis with about 56 percent of votes for council Position 1 and had Becky Erickson beating incumbent Jim Henry with nearly 62 percent of votes in Position 3. Connie Lord looked to be the lone reelected incumbent, topping challenger Joe Price to retain Position 2 with almost 70 percent of the vote.

Berry-Maraist and Erickson have both become familiar faces to Poulsbo’s city government, known especially for work on growth, planning and development issues.

“I’m thrilled,” Berry-Maraist said. “I met a lot of the voters and got a chance to listen to the people and I’m excited to serve the people.”

Berry-Maraist campaigned with the promise of creative partnerships and cost-effective solutions. She championed a downtown city hall and better growth planning, and said she will guide the city’s development with dependable, predictable policies. She also helped to create the city’s new Critical Areas Ordinance and Planned Residential Development codes.

She said results showed voters’ desire to see “things done differently,” and she’s ready to get to work on many issues, including constructing a new city hall, a topic many voters called upon during her time spent doorbelling before the election.

“I think that people were ready for some change,” Berry-Maraist said, adding resolutely, “I am looking forward to getting some things done.”

Opponent Mike Regis said Tuesday night he expected the race to be a close one, and plans on continuing his work with both the city and county. He has been involved with the city of Poulsbo since the 1970s, was a proponent of a 10th Avenue city hall and has worked to preserve the health of Liberty Bay.

Erickson said she knew not all votes had yet been counted, but said she felt comfortable in her Position 3 standing.

“I think people in Poulsbo are ready for a little different flavor of leadership,” she said, pointing out voters were looking for more consistency and stability and better visioning and planning. Both are qualities she feels she and Berry-Maraist bring to the table. “They’ve had enough of the status quo.”

Erickson first became involved in city government after discovering a plan for more than 500 homes to be constructed near hers on Noll Road, and 1,600 to be constructed citywide. In an effort to create better planning policies and smarter growth, she influenced a citywide building moratorium, and then worked on both the CAO and PRD committees.

Erickson said she’s ready to get down to business on major issues facing the city, including budgetary ones.

“I’ve got a very extensive agenda,” she said.

Henry was first appointed to the council in 2000 and was twice reelected to the position. He made transportation his specialty and was a proponent of the magnetically-propelled LevX train for commuters from Poulsbo to Bainbridge Island. He also worked on plans for a Poulsbo-Seattle passenger-only ferry. He said he was surprised and disappointed with both the voter results and turnout, and credited the land-use issue as one that tipped the voters to his opponent.

“We were two different people going in different directions,” Henry said. “I’ve given it my best shot and did everything I could do.”

Henry, 70, said this will most likely mark the end of his public service involvement, and he’ll now turn things over to a younger crowd. He said the process taught him that no matter what, one person simply can’t please everyone.

“I’ve enjoyed working for the city,” he said. “I have no complaints whatsoever.”

Lord expressed thanks to voters for her reelection to Position 2.

“I’m so honored,” she said. “I served the citizens and they have spoken that they appreciate that and I am honored to be able to serve for four more years.”

Lord said she looks forward to continuing her work with council members, addressing the city’s biggest issues including a new city hall and balancing infrastructure upgrades and growth. She will also continue to serve as the Centennial Planning committee chair, as well as spearhead a youth in government program in cooperation with area high schools. She said it was her experience that made the difference for voters.

“I’ve been as responsive as I can possibly be to the voters and the issues we are facing in the city of Poulsbo,” she said. “I think my hard work has been appreciated and I’m very grateful.”

She also expressed a hope that opponent Price still finds a way to join in city government, as it is important for citizens to step up and be involved.

Price began his run in response to a council-approved February 2007 Police Department Process Study that included language about contracting with an outside protection agency. The language was later removed, but Price said he still wanted to address issue of government inefficiency in the use of taxpayers’ money, as well as create a multi-functional city hall.

Final election results are expected next week. For the most up-to-date numbers, visit www.kitsapgov.org.

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