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Cleverley, Henden face off in primary

While Republicans Matthew Cleverley and Scott Henden are running against each other in the Sept. 14 primary for the Kitsap County Commissioner District 1 seat, they both said they often see the same course of action taking place within the county government — a lot of talk, a lot of meetings and no action.

In order to help the government to run more smoothly, Cleverley and Henden want to tackle two of the county’s biggest documents — the budget and codes and regulations. By merely going through and simplifying these two planning tools, the county government could work a lot more efficiently, they both said.

Henden, an electrician who ran against incumbent Democrat Chris Endresen in 2000 and earned 46 percent of the vote, said his major issues and concerns — which include affordable housing, sustaining family wage jobs, working with small business owners and respecting property rights — are based on how the county budget is handled.

“I think most things we do in the county come down to dollars,” he said.

The budget increased from $220 million to $370 million in seven years, he said, noting that spending can be reduced. One way to do this is to have performance audits completed within the county’s departments. By seeing where it is possible to consolidate or overlap services, “we can do better than we are,” he explained.

Henden also said he believes increasing family wage jobs and supporting small businesses ventures within the county go hand in hand. During the past four years, 75 percent of the county’s growth has come from the expansion of smaller businesses, he explained.

This is a good sign, Henden said, but the county and business owners need to work together in order to keep increasing that growth.

“I think we need to be careful that we don’t lose existing businesses and that we encourage existing businesses (by saying), ‘We want you, we want to work with you,’” he said.

He also said he believes regardless of what issue is on the table before the commissioners, they need keep in mind who and what will be affected the most.

“If staff or commissioners have issues come before them, they need to ask what’s the cost, ‘What’s the gain?’” Henden said.

Cleverley, an attorney, said he believes in the same type of ideology but that it should be used to re-evaluate the county’s current codes and regulations.

While his campaign issues primarily deal with creating affordable housing and family wage jobs and providing better transportation, it comes down to the county’s codes that regulate these issues and the fact there may be too many of them.

“We have all these layers and layers of things and that’s partly why it takes so long to get things done and to get permits,” he said.

While Cleverley said he agrees there are necessary services that the county should provide, such as fire, roads and infrastructure, he asked, “Does the county really need 48 separate advisory commissions in the county?”

While there are groups that are the eyes and ears of their communities for the commissioners and actually accomplish things, he said there could also be some extraneous organizations that accomplish the same goal in three different ways. For example, he said there are three different agencies that deal with mental health, aging and disabilities.

“Is that something that could all be done by one? Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “The county needs to focus and say, ‘Where do we want to go, what is the vision, what are the highest priorities?’”

He said Kitsap is also experiencing a type of economic movement that he has witnessed before in other small communities around the country and has negatively impacted the area.

When housing prices and taxes go up, people move out of the area and more residents start commuting, putting more stress on the local transportation systems and quality of life. Cleverley blamed part of it on the interpretation of the state mandated Growth Management Act as well as the county’s rules and regulations. Because of the cost of living increases in Seattle, people are starting to move to Kitsap and residents in Kitsap are moving either northwest to Jefferson County or south to Mason County.

“So you start seeing the economy in Kitsap is being driven by everything that happens in Seattle,” he said.

Endresen, the unopposed candidate in the primary, has been a Kitsap County Commissioner for the past eight years but has been working in the public sector since 1985 when she started as a city council member in Poulsbo. Some of the bigger issues she is concerned with for the next four years include focusing on transportation systems within the county, managing population growth as the county goes through another “growth spurt,” and partnering with local businesses to help the agency run more efficiently.

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