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Poulsbo attorney will challenge Bauer for county seat

Sandra LaCelle (center) spending time with her family on Mother’s Day. - Courtesy Photo
Sandra LaCelle (center) spending time with her family on Mother’s Day.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

POULSBO —  It was a decision a long time in the making and solidified at nearly the final minute. Sandra LaCelle, a civil attorney from the Lofall area, is challenging North End Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer come November. She filed for candidacy with the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office Friday morning.

LaCelle has lived in the county for more than 25 years and moved to the North End from South Kitsap last year. Professionally, she practiced law with the Bremerton law firm Bishop, Cunningham and Andrews for seven years, and now practices law part-time from her home.

She stepped down from her position in Bremerton to care for her mother, who moved in with LaCelle and her family. Her mother eventually moved back to Seattle, LaCelle said.

Now, LaCelle’s focus is on caring for her five children, practicing law part-time and completing a distance learning program. She is studying for a master’s in homeland security from American Military University.

A long-time politicker, LaCelle wasn’t sure at first if she could see herself as the one in the spotlight. A number of factors played together in deciding to run, she said.

“Seeing what’s going on in the world; I can’t do anything about what we’re paying for gas, but at the county level I can at least make sure that our county government is providing the service county government should provide,” LaCelle said. She is involved in the Kitsap County Republican Party and serves on Kitsap County’s Development Disabilities Advisory Board.

If she’s elected to the county commission post, LaCelle said she’ll invite and honor public input and her emphasis will be on fiscal frugality.

“If we do have a (funding) shortfall and we’re having trouble providing services, it will mean looking at whatever we can do better, not just taking a top-down approach where I and the other commissioners make that decision for you,” she said. “The main thing that people should know about me is that I’m a good listener — I have to be with the job I do. I like to hear all the information I can get my hands on before I make a decision.”

She felt compelled to run because Bauer, the current North End Commissioner, was appointed to fill Chris Endresen’s unexpired term. Bauer declared his candidacy in April.

Endresen resigned last year to take a post as a state director for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

“I just felt like this was maybe the right cycle,” LaCelle said. “I felt it was important for someone to run against Mr. Bauer because he was appointed and this is an elected seat. The voters should have a say.”

Jack Hamilton, chairman of the Kitsap County Republican Party, said LaCelle was a natural choice to run for county commission.

“First off, she’s plugged into the community. She’s lived throughout the district and understands the issues,” Hamilton said. “She’s a person who has to pay bills, care for the house, care for the kids, buy gas and do all those things that normal people do, and she’s just a little tired of the government coming back and picking her pocket, as are most of us.”

LaCelle also has the perspective of a local business person, he said.

“She understands that you can’t go around spending money you don’t have and going back to your customers (taxpayers) and asking for more,” Hamilton said. “Taxes are the end result of not paying attention to what we’re spending our money on.”

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