Bauer, Mitchusson were models for public service | Editorial

Steve Bauer, who has resigned as a Kitsap County commissioner, and the late Mitch Mitchusson, the former Poulsbo mayor whose life was celebrated on Jan. 15, are being lauded for their accomplishments on behalf of North Kitsap and Poulsbo.

We applaud them for something more: For showing us that the individual can make a positive difference in public service, for assuring us that debate need not be vitriolic and that disagreements can be amicable.

As divisiveness and partisanship mars the national political scene, we look for leaders who can show us that, as the late senator Margaret Chase Smith said, “every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned.”

Bauer, a commissioner from Hansville since 2007, accomplished much in his relatively short time in office: A new master plan for downtown Kingston, Norwegian Point Park in Hansville, sidewalks in Suquamish. He initiated the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership, in which Olympic Property Group would transfer to public ownership up to 7,000 acres of land near Port Gamble Bay, and develop a new community using low-impact development techniques. The proposed community’s environmental impacts are still being determined.

Mitchusson took office as mayor in 1985, in the wake of resignations from his predecessor and five council members, and worked to rebuild public trust in the local government. He was Poulsbo’s biggest booster, even after leaving office in 1999. Front Street was renovated, the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association was formed, nearly 515 acres were annexed into the city, and plans for an Olympic College campus in Poulsbo took shape. Using Leavenworth as a model, he worked with local businesses to market Poulsbo as a tourist destination.

Donna Jean Bruce, who succeeded Mitchusson as mayor, said the man popularly known as Mayor Mitch remained friends with those who didn’t agree with him politically, and didn’t carry a grudge.

Commissioner Bauer and Mayor Mitch served honorably. We thank them not only for their service, but how they served.

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