Write-in challenge: Springsteel doubts Nystul can divide time between Bremerton job and Poulsbo duties | Poulsbo City Council, Position 3

From left, Poulsbo City Council candidate Gary Nystul faces a write-in challenge from retired professor Fred Springsteel.   - File photos
From left, Poulsbo City Council candidate Gary Nystul faces a write-in challenge from retired professor Fred Springsteel.
— image credit: File photos

POULSBO — Fred Springsteel, a retired college professor and resident of Bond Road, announced his write-in candidacy for Poulsbo City Council, Position 3.

Previously, Gary Nystul was unopposed for the position, which is being vacated by Jeff Bauman. Nystul, a resident of Poulsbo Place, is Bremerton’s city auditor and a former Kalispell, Mont., city councilman.

Springsteel has spoken at City Council meetings and written letters to the editor about growth-related issues, and was involved in the formation of Citizens for Poulsbo’s Future, a group of residents concerned about the city’s development policies.

Springsteel earned his PhD in math from the University of Washington. He served as a computer science professor at University of Missouri, where he was active on the Faculty Council. He is civic education chairman of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3586, and a member of the North Kitsap Friends of the Library and North Kitsap League of Women Voters.

He wrote that he is running for council because he doesn’t feel Nystul can adequately devote time to the position.

“My main objection to his ascension to the Poulsbo city council is the old truth: ‘You cannot serve two masters,’” Springsteel wrote. “Where is his main loyalty? He works in Bremerton 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If elected to Council here, it would be hard to serve on Council committees which meet weekdays, often at or before 5 p.m. I challenge him to respond to this letter.”

Nystul told the Herald he is no different from the existing council members who also hold full-time jobs and make the time to serve on the City Council. He said he did not understand why a candidate would wait to run as a write-in, particularly because Bauman announced early he would not run for election.

“There was ample opportunity for anyone who wanted to run to get their thoughts together and decide to run,” Nystul said.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, to be a write-in candidate “a person may file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy with the appropriate filing officer, accompanied by the applicable filing fee,” no later than the day before the election.

“Those who wish to cast a vote for a candidate who has filed as a write-in candidate need only write the name of the candidate in the appropriate location on the ballot. Some variation of name is permitted if the intent of the voter can be determined,” according to the website. “Write-in votes for candidates who did not file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy are also valid. However, determining the voter’s intent is more difficult without a Declaration of Write-in candidacy.”

Write-in votes are not tallied for the individual candidate, declared or undeclared, unless the votes “have the potential of changing the outcome of the primary or election,” according to the website.

Springsteel is as willing to challenge the local media as he is city government. In a letter to the Herald’s editor, accompanying his announcement of candidacy, he criticized the newspaper for publishing only two of his letters in 2011. However, a review of back issues showed the Herald published letters by Springsteel in the June 17, Aug. 5, Aug. 19, and Sept. 2 editions. His press release about the formation of Citizens for Poulsbo’s Future was published Aug. 26. His letter announcing his candidacy is published in this edition.

“I offer my work free to help your paper and you treat freelance writers like …” and used a perjorative term for African Americans commonly referred to today as the N-word. He was advised by the editor “the term you used is hurtful and offensive in all uses and will not be tolerated in conversations between us.” Later that day, Springsteel handwrote a note to the editor stating, “Pardon my Mark Twain language!”

— Herald reporter Megan Stephenson contributed to this report.


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