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Poulsbo Realtor running for county auditor

PORT ORCHARD — One of the last uncontested county races was filled on Wednesday, when Poulsbo Realtor John Clark declared his intention to oppose Walter Washington for the Kitsap County Auditor position.

“This is a very important office,” Clark said. “The average voter doesn’t have confidence in the system. People want to cast their votes and get a fast, accurate result that reflects how many votes each candidate receives. As I talk to people around the county they do not feel this is the case.”

Clark, 53, has lived in Kitsap County since 2004. He moved from Hawaii, where he was a small business owner. He said he was involved in every local election for the 20-year period he lived in the state.

Clark said the basis of voter confusion comes from the new top-two primary and the vote-by-mail process. He thinks voters should have the option to vote on an absentee basis, but the default should be the physical polls.

Kitsap County approved the all-mail vote in 2005, when it was determined it would cost upward of $750,000 to equip polling places. Clark thinks this was the wrong reason to switch.

“I am a fiscal conservative and am for saving money whenever possible,” he said. “But when it comes to something as basic as our right to vote, we shouldn’t use saving money as an excuse to change the process. The most important part of voting is that people have confidence in the results. I don’t see that people have confidence in the existing system.”

Clark, who currently serves as treasurer of the Kitsap Association of Realtors, works as a broker for RE/MAX on Bainbridge Island and sells property throughout the county. He said he expected to draw upon the local real estate network for campaign support.

Clark is running as a Republican. Washington, who was appointed by the Kitsap County Democratic Party to fill out the term of Karen Flynn, has not yet faced the voters. For this reason, Clark does not recognize Washington as the incumbent.

“I think of us as equals,” Clark said. “He has the benefit of having a little more knowledge about the day-to-day activities of the office, but we are on even ground when it comes to this election.”

Clark acknowledges that he is facing an uphill battle, as Washington unarguably occupies the office and the fact that Republicans are at a disadvantage this election year. This is supported by Kitsap County Republican Chairman Jack Hamilton, who said “anyone who is running as a Republican in this heavily Democratic district is showing courage beyond belief.”

Now that the auditor race is contested, the North Kitsap Commissioner position occupied by Steve Bauer —? also appointed by the Democratic Party — was the only unchallenged race on this year’s ballot.

Hamilton has long promised the local Republican Party would field a full slate of candidates. On Friday morning, Hamilton said Sandra LaCelle, a civil law attorney from the Lofall area, has filed to oppose Bauer as a Republican. More information on LaCelle will be available in the Herald’s June 11 edition.

“Politics have become so personal that we no longer address the issues,” Hamilton said. “No one in their right mind will spend a year setting themselves up for these personal attacks, where their kids have to hear what terrible people they are. We don’t talk about ideals and principles, and both parties have taken politics into the gutter.”

Hamilton said that he expected the auditor’s race to be “clean.” Washington said on Thursday he expected he would face opposition in the race and he “looked forward to debating the issues.”

Clark said he’s always wanted to run for office but always found some excuse to postpone doing so. He said he intends to campaign vigorously for the position.

“I have a passion for this,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

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