Voters say no to cityhood

"With the election date now past, it seems certain: Silverdale will not be locally owned and operated in 2000, except by the familiar means of county commissioners.Despite a tight margin in the November election on the same issue, Silverdale voters soundly rejected incorporation Tuesday.Although not all the ballots have been counted and the election won't be certified until Feb. 11, Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn has received enough to say the area will not be a city.The auditor's office has received ballots from 4,335 of the 7,125 registered voters in Silverdale, a respectable 60.84 percent turnout.Of the 4,332 ballots counted, 1,775 voted for incorporation and 2,557 voted against incorporation.That means 59.03 percent of Silverdale voters gave the thumbs down to cityhood. If 60 percent end up voting against incorporation, the issue will be legally banned from the ballot for three years.If last week's trend holds, Silverdale voters could be looking at another incorporation initiative in the time it takes to get a proposal through the necessary hoops.There was a slight gain in percentage - and I do mean slight - for the yes votes (from Tuesday to Thursday, when updated numbers were released), said Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn. With the last 545 ballots we counted, the yes votes are now 40.97 percent.None of the incorporation boosters were available for comment or returned phone calls Thursday.When the same proposal failed by five votes on the November ballot, members of Citizens for Silverdale promised to put it right back in front of the voters as soon as possible.Rick Smith, a former state representative and spokesman for the anti-incorporation group Save Our Silverdale, said the wide margin surprised him.I was amazed. That's all I can say, Smith said Wednesday. I was quite confident - we had sensed that the momentum had turned (against incorporation) and I thought we would win by 53-47. With that, I would have been very satisfied.Smith guessed Silverdale voters rejected the proposal for the sake of prudence. With the November passage of Initiative 695, he conjectured voters are wary of government spending and uncomfortable with the city's new layer of government.People are in doubt about whether it's a good thing, and if they are in doubt they are going to vote no, Smith said. I think they were worried about more government, adding another layer ... and the suspicion that (cityhood) would end up being more costly.County officials also breathed a sigh of relief at the defeat of cityhood. Incorporation would have meant a huge bite out of the county's sales tax base, totalling in the millions.Despite the defeat of incorporation, dissatisfaction with a perceived lack of representation at the county level remains.Smith suggested bipartisan cooperation for other governance options. I hope all of us can work together in the greater Central Kitsap School District area to develop a vision of what we want that is different and better than what we have, he said."

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