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Public testimony unfavorable toward charter ballot options

The Kitsap County Board of Freeholders was told Thursday, Oct. 11, to do its job instead of passing a key issue on to voters.

The freeholders took public testimony on whether or not to include “ballot options” in the final draft of their proposed new county charter. The options would allow voters to decide whether county council members should be elected in district-only or countywide balloting; and perhaps whether some county elected officials should be partisan or nonpartisan.

Unanimously, those who gave testimony were against ballot options.

“Your job is to do what we elected you to do,” said Marcia Mack of Poulsbo. “I vote for you to write the complete charter.”

Some of the 15 people who gave testimony Thursday said the ballot options could confuse voters, thereby causing the charter to fail when it is sent to voters for approval. The charter is scheduled to go to voters in February 2002.

“It would be difficult to vote for a charter if you didn’t know what was going to be on the charter,” said Lois McMahon.

Freeholders chair Linda Webb was careful to point out that testimony was being taken only on the ballot options issue. Nonetheless, some audience members couldn’t resist another chance to comment on planks in the charter.

Some argued against making county council members nonpartisan. In a nonbinding straw vote at a previous meeting, a nonpartisan council was supported by 16 freeholders.

“I view partisan labels as truth in advertising,” said Joan Gorner of Poulsbo. “When I see a ‘D’ behind a candidate’s name, I can make deductions about that person’s philosophy, and who supports that person.”

County Republican Chair Shirley Brown was invited to comment on the partisan-nonpartisan issue.

“It is the people’s right to clearly know a candidate’s philosophy on important issues ... all decisions are political,” Brown said.

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