Candidate Q&A: Kitsap County Commission, District 1

This is part three in a series of Q&As with candidates for local office in the Nov. 6 general election. This week: Rob Gelder and Chris Tibbs, County Commission, District 1.

Kitsap County commissioners approve laws and manage a $325 million budget. Commissioners are responsible for county policies relating to community development, county finance, environmental protection, human services, parks and recreation, public safety and health, solid waste, transportation, and other state legislative directed duties. Commissioners are elected to four-year terms and receive $109,907 per year. They also receive the same benefits as county employees.

Robert Gelder
Residence: Unincorporated Kitsap County between Keyport and Brownsville.
Occupation: Kitsap County commissioner, District 1.
Education: BA, political science, University of Rochester.
Online: www.robertgelder.com

Herald: What qualifications do you have for this job?
Gelder: 18 months of experience as commissioner, 20 years experience in the health/human service sector with 10 years in senior management/executive leadership roles.

Herald: What are your top five priorities if elected?
Gelder: One, continuing to simplify the permitting and land use process through the use of technology and process improvements. Two, improving job growth by supporting small businesses from a wide-range of sectors. Three, consolidate services with other jurisdictions to achieve more sustainable economies of scale. Four, work to resolve key transportation issues facing North Kitsap that impact local communities and commerce. Five, work to foster a culture of service.

Herald: How would you accomplish your priorities?
Gelder: One, support departments and prioritize resources necessary to fully implement LEAN process improvement and supportive technologies. Two, addressing county codes to ensure they are supportive of business development and not an impediment.

Three, continue to have dialogue with other elected officials to determine the best opportunities to collaborate and partner. Four, continue to pull together key stakeholders (WSDOT, local electeds, community members) to identify funding and design solutions to specific transportation issues facing the North Kitsap area (i.e. impact of platooning from offloading ferries, bridge closures, etc.) Five, lead by example. County residents always comes first as the county government exists to serve our local community.

Herald: What makes you different from your opponent?
Gelder: I have chosen a career and life path that emphasized community service and servant leadership. I bring that perspective to the role of county commissioner.

Herald: What’s the most important job of an elected official?
Gelder: To serve the community and to be a good steward of the public’s trust and resources.

Chris Tibbs
Residence: Suquamish
Occupation: Founder, owner and president of United Provisions Corp.
Education: GED while working full-time to support my mother and sister.
Online: www.christibbs.com

Herald: What qualifications do you have for this job?
Tibbs: As a lifelong resident of Kitsap County, raised on Bainbridge Island, I love and cherish the natural splendor we have been blessed with.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, I have to grapple with Kitsap County government’s clumsy and overbearing regulations every day, which wastes time that I could instead be using to make the money that pays my employees and my taxes.

As vice chair of the Citizens Advisory Budget Committee, I witnessed first-hand the Kitsap County Commission’s intransigence and open hostility to job creation, and I am running to change that.

Herald: What are your top five priorities if elected?
Tibbs: One, immediately commission an independent performance audit of Kitsap County government to streamline operations and provide the taxpayer with the best possible value for their tax dollars, and maximize the service government provides to its constituents.

Two, identify, rank and publish priorities of government to establish a logical funding roadmap in challenging fiscal years and to ensure that critical tasks, like law enforcement, receive our first dollar rather than our last dime.

Three, restore Kitsap County government to a five-day workweek. Currently, in Kitsap County, you pay seven days of taxes for four days of service. This is unacceptable; your government must be open and accessible.

Four, champion economic development to provide jobs to Kitsap County’s 10,000 unemployed. Jobs pay the bills, jobs feed the family, jobs keep the lights on; we need to focus on jobs, not trails. Trails are lovely, but only when people are prosperous enough to afford the time to use them. I created seven jobs in August; I know how it’s done, and I will champion the improvement of our ailing business climate.

Five, begin moving Kitsap County toward charter government. We need our county officers free from partisan rancor to conduct their duties efficiently, and we need a government of very limited and enumerated powers to protect the rights of the individual.

Herald: How would you accomplish your priorities?
Tibbs: As a businessman, I understand the importance of building strong, diverse coalitions to accomplish mutual goals. I will work across party and ideological lines with our local, state and federal representation to create prosperity for Kitsap County and opportunities for our children while protecting the natural splendor of our beloved home.

Herald: What makes you different from your opponent?
Tibbs: I was born and raised here, in poverty, and since age 14 have relentlessly worked my way up to the middle class. I have never lived with my hand out, relying on the charity of others or the favors of government for my welfare; I have produced. I have created jobs, I have balanced budgets, I sign the front of paychecks and I understand those fundamental truths that underpin a prosperous economy.  I understand that a healthy economy must produce wealth and value, not merely spread it around. Eco-tourism is a fantasy; I will pursue real, value-added family-wage jobs to ensure that my children have better opportunities than I had.

Herald: What’s the most important job of an elected official?
Tibbs: To operate the levers of government in the way least cumbersome to the citizens and taxpayers while fully complying with all relevant state and federal mandates, and to be available, receptive and accommodating to input from all constituents regardless of political or personal affiliations.


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