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"Commissioner, judge candidates tangle at chamber debate"

"Taxes for transportation and property rights were among issues discussed at a Sept. 7 candidates forum. The forum for candidates, hosted by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, was at the Silverdale Community Center and moderated by Darrell Uptegraft of the law firm Ryan, Sells, Uptegraft. Candidates were given five minutes for opening statements, followed by an hour of questions from the audience.Kitsap County Superior Court Judge candidates David Hedger and Leila Mills (position No. 2), and Randy Loun, Anna Laurie and Ione George (position No. 3) all attended. But given the sensitive nature of judicial positions, none of the candidates spoke to any specific issues - besides a passion for the law and, in response to a question from the audience, support for security at the courthouse. Each candidate cited extensive experience in the judicial system in their bids for the bench and an ability to see both sides of an issue. Issues were not really brought to light until the candidates for county commissioner spoke. Both incumbent commissioners, Chris Endresen of North Kitsap and Charlotte Garrido of South Kitsap, defended their records against accusations of poor leadership, high taxes and unfulfilled promises.Republican challenger Scott Henden accused Democrat incumbent Chris Endresen of acting too quickly on salmon protection and of contributing to an anti-business government in Kitsap County. Things need to change, Henden said. I have talked to 200 business owners, only one supported the county.Garrido, running against two challengers from her Democratic party and one Republican, defended her record of rallying community support for transportation money, specifically the Bethel Road corridor project. Support and opposition for a .3 percent Kitsap Transit tax increase, which officials proposed to make up for funds lost as a result of Initiative 695, fell mainly along party lines. The Democrats - Endresen, Garrido and South Kitsap challenger Sherill Huff-Menees - supported the proposed three-tenths of a penny sales tax hike, saying that public transportation is one of the area's top issues and will be vital in drawing more businesses to Kitsap County.Don Atkinson, representing Republican-turned-Democrat South Kitsap candidate Dusty Wiley, said Wiley supports a tax increase aimed at boosting law enforcement, not transit. Atkinson, Wiley's campaign manager, said his candidate would propose a one-tenth of a penny sales tax increase for the CenCom emergency dispatch service with the remaining two-thirds going to hiring more Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies.GOP challenger Jan Angel, however, said she would oppose the increase, which she characterized as heaping more unfair taxes on Kitsap citizens. I-695 was a scream saying, 'We can't take it any more,' Angel said. They can't take the tax burden. All candidates expressed concern over levy failures in the South Kitsap School District. Angel called the failures tragic and that they were a sign Kitsap County residents are taxed too heavily. Endresen commented that when a school levy fails in Kitsap County, no matter what district it is in, it reflects on the whole county and discourages employers from coming over.The primary election will take place Sept. 19 with the general election following on Nov.7. "

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