Opinion

Advisory board makes candidate recommendations

If only there was a way to cherry pick characteristics from different candidates and roll them together into one person. Unfortunately, there isn’t, and that posed quite the dilemma for the North Kitsap Herald’s advisory board over the last two weeks.

The advisory board, along with Herald Publisher Donna Etchey and Editor Celeste Cornish, interviewed various candidates to develop informed decisions on whom to endorse in the current election. Neither the publisher nor editor had a vote in the endorsements. We spoke with:

• Mayoral candidates Kathryn Quade and Becky Erickson;

• Poulsbo City Council Position 7 candidates Kimberlee Crowder and Jim Henry;

• Port of Poulsbo District No. 12 commissioner candidates Dale Gilbert and Dale Johnson; and

• North Kitsap Fire Commissioner District Position 4 candidates Gillian Gregory and D. Scott Henden.

The format for the meetings was forum style, in which the candidates for each office were brought in together and were given equal time to answer a series of questions from the editorial board. Some of the questions were asked on the fly and none of the candidates were given the questions in advance.

In the case of Gregory and Henden, however, a scheduling conflict prevented both from meeting at the same time, so they were interviewed separately. The editor was not present in the second interview, and staff writer Tad Sooter sat in as a proxy.

The advisory board was impressed, as a whole, with the quality of the candidates and their knowledge of the commissions on which they currently serve or would like to serve. The board also was impressed by the candidates’ demeanor and that they promoted their own strengths, rather than pointing out each others’ weaknesses.

The No. 1 question on everyone’s mind — candidates and observers alike — was the belt-tightening in budgets across the board and how each incumbent and/or candidate will handle their financial decisions. Fiscal conservatism certainly played a role in the first interview, the mayor candidates. (For more on the mayor’s race, see page 16.)

Quade — a five-year incumbent who served on the council for six years before running for mayor — and Erickson (a council member since 2007) are as different as night and day. Quade promotes her ability to work with groups to resolve issues and please as many people as possible, while Erickson said she isn’t afraid to make tough decisions.

Quade said her primary role as mayor is to “keep Poulsbo liveable,” and attract new residents while retaining the town’s charm. She cites among her accomplishments: the State Route 305 overhaul, the Vetter Homestead housing development and the celebration of the Poulsbo Centennial.

Erickson became involved in city politics primarily to save a 10-acre farm on Noll Road from being developed. She’s a proponent of slow, controlled growth. “We need to make sure growth pays for itself,” she said.

The advisory board was unable to reach a consensus on whom to endorse in the mayoral race, as they liked both Quade’s consensus building and Erickson’s financial conservatism. The advisory board members decided that if they could combine those two facets, an ideal mayor would result.

The conversation with Crowder and Henry started off with a bang, as the first question out of the gate was about council leadership. They were asked how the dynamic of the Poulsbo City Council would change if there was a change in leadership in the mayoral chair.

Crowder, a four-year incumbent and small business owner, took the opportunity to call Erickson “combative” and “agitative” (sic).

Henry, a 26-year Navy veteran and former member of the City Council, took a different approach, saying no matter who lead the council’s job is unchanged.

The advisory board’s decision to endorse Crowder was based primarily on her stance that growth should be slow and steady. Henry said on the same topic that “nothing’s going to get cheaper or easier,” so the city should embrace change as it comes.

For the Port of Poulsbo, challenger Johnson and 10-year incumbent Gilbert were running the friendliest race on the ballot. Johnson put himself on the ballot because he’s looking for a way to serve the community. In this case, the advisory board is recommending Gilbert to retain his experience on the board. It also was impressed by Johnson’s passion and is encouraging him to stay involved in the community in another aspect.

In the North Kitsap Fire Position 4 race, Gillian has served on the board for 14 years and, as a registered nurse with emergency management experience. Henden’s main focus as a fire commissioner would be to hold the fire departments accountable for their budgets. While that is admirable, the advisory board was more inclined to again retain the incumbent’s experience.

To sum up, the advisory board endorses:

• Mayoral race: neutral;

• Poulsbo City Council Position 7, Kimberlee Crowder;

• Port of Poulsbo District No. 12 commissioner, Gilbert; and

• North Kitsap Fire Commissioner District Position 4, Gregory.

While these are merely recommendations, the Herald and its advisory board encourages all registered voters to have a say in the future. Do your own research and become informed. Mark your ballot and drop it in the mailbox or take it to a local dropoff station.

Voting is your right and your responsibility. Take advantage of it.

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