"I believe people have the power to make a difference. Our future depends on a strong economy, a healthy environment and local people working together. As your County Commissioner these are my priorities—for a Kitsap County we can be proud of!"

This endorsement appeared in the Sunday, July 24th edition of the Kitsap Sun

Keep Garrido in county chair

Like it or not, we’re in this together.

That’s a bromide that could be applied to anything around election time -politicians rally around the word “we” for any platform, no matter how much a stretch – we think it’s an applicable phrase for the candidacy of Charlotte Garrido, currently representing South Kitsap on the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

County leadership is a difficult job, a situation created by the low number of commissioners tasked with administering services to a large county that has few incorporated cities. Having only three elected commissioners means there’s a steep learning curve in understanding the county’s 19 departments as well as maintaining relationships with agencies like Kitsap Transit, Kitsap Mental Health, cities and regional partners. It’s a thick stack of documents that need to be absorbed, a busy meeting schedule and a lot of touchpoints in county administration.

The difficult job has been done well by Garrido during her eight years in office. Her ability to seek help – neighborhood involvement, citizen groups that contribute on issues like mental health or homelessness, and working with volunteers are priorities – and her experience during a time of significant changes in the county’s organization, brought on by the recession, are strengths. The relationships with city governments and groups like the West Sound Alliance, working on transportation, will be key to the next four years.

Her opponents are strong for the primary election.
They are versed in the details – independent candidate Roger Gay has watched county government closely for years and can speak in depth on a variety of issues. They know how organizations function – Dino Davis, a Bremerton City Councilman also running as a Democrat, already has a seat at the table on important countywide matters and has been known as an active and collaborative city representative. And they know how to harness political will of voters ·- Chris Tibbs, the Republican in the race, led the county party during a time it flipped several seats to the GOP, including the campaign of Garrido’s current colleague, commissioner Ed Wolfe

Of those three challengers we’re most impressed with Gay, a former member of this editorial board. He can be a county critic, but not absolutely or without reasoning. Gay does his homework and the pains­ taking task of attending many public meetings. He can talk policy concretely, has experience as a past board member on citizen advisory groups, and isn’t just posturing when he promises to ask “What’s in it for taxpayers?” He’s already been doing that for years. Gay can be a bulldog for those looking for an alternative to the incumbent, and that moves him above the other challengers, both sharp candidates but without the proven ability to manage in a large and complex organization like the county. Being one of three commissioners takes managerial skills, patience and vision as much as a promise to be more “active,” the latter a criticism of Garrido that Davis and Tibbs share.

Garrido’s active leadership can wander to issues that may not be seen as critical, such sustainable food systems and social services. But those issues allow for relationships to be built that pull citizens closer to county government, which is the sign of a leader. Her experience working with residents, business and nonprofit groups and across county departments is Garrido’s strength in a crowded field. The county’s budget is in the strongest shape in several years, a sales tax dedicated to mental health funding was boldly approved by the current commission and is addressing a vital issue, and progress is being made on key issues like workforce development, thanks to a three-county partnership focused on higher education.

For those bent on ousting the incumbent, we think Roger Gay offers the top alternative. But we encourage South Kitsap voters to retain Charlotte Garrido with your Aug. 2 vote, and keep a collaborative ethic in county government to stay on the right track.