Elections

Armstrong, Gabriel to move ahead in Public Utilities District race

John Armstrong isn’t used to competition but he’s not opposed to it, either.

Preliminary election results have the 18-year incumbent Kitsap Public Utilities Commissioner finishing first in a three-way primary Tuesday night with 46.4 percent of the vote. According to the Kitsap County Auditor site, about 25,000 ballots were left to be counted.

If the results hold, the Hansville resident will face Linda Gabriel of Poulsbo in the November general election. Gabriel earned 29 percent of the vote, while third-place finisher Arlene Buetow earned 23.8 percent of the vote.

“It’s exciting. It really is,” Armstrong said Tuesday evening after seeing the preliminary results. “It’s my first competition since 1992 when I first ran.”

In that race, he beat out two other candidates to earn his first six-year term on PUD. He was twice re-elected without facing opponents.

“It was quite a surprise when Linda and Arlene showed up,” he said.

Armstrong is ready to continue the fight to retain his commissioner status, he said.

“This is not going to be a walk through. I am going to work hard at this like I have my entire PUD career,” he said.

Gabriel said Tuesday night she, too, was ready to campaign through November. Though this is the first time she’s competed for a spot on the PUD, she considered running six years ago. At that time, however, she was caring for her aging parents and knew it would be impossible to balance her parents’ needs with the rigors of a campaign.

Her platform for the upcoming months is to expand the county’s high speed internet into areas that currently depend on dial-up services. This can be achieved through bonds and grants provided through federal stimulus dollars, she said. In particular, there are areas on Bainbridge Island, in Indianola and near Seabeck that don’t have access to high-speed internet.

“People are trying to run small businesses from home and dial-up internet isn’t cutting it,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel, who retired from civil service in 2006, moved to Poulsbo in 2002.

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