Angel bypassed as commissioner chair

As a final act during the last Kitsap County Commissioner meeting of the year, Commissioner Jan Angel received what her constituents considered a slap in the face.

Chris Endresen, the current chairwoman on the board of commissioners, Monday nominated Central Kitsap Democrat Tim Botkin to chair the board next year. He also served as chair in 2000.

First-term incumbent Jan Angel, a Republican, thought next year would be her opportunity to lead county commissioner meetings. The chair traditionally rotates among all three commissioners.

“Chris and Tim have introduced politics into the courthouse and they have shown their displeasure with the South Kitsap commissioner,” said Port of Bremerton Commissioner Bill Mahan, who also resides in South Kitsap. “If anything, they’ve given the public a very good reason to vote for the charter because it provides for nonpartisan elections.

“This was a slap in the face of the South Kitsap commissioner and the South Kitsap voters,” he continued. “I am shocked and upset.”

Mahan said in January 1969, when he served as a Republican County Commissioner from South Kitsap, he seconded a motion appointing North Kitsap Republican Frank Randall as chairman of the board.

“I stated that I felt the unwritten policy should be that the commissioners should serve two years as the chair and then rotate the position through the board,” said Mahan, who switched to the Democratic Party in 1971. “The policy eventually switched to a yearly schedule in about 1994.”

Mahan said it’s common courtesy to pass on the torch and he was suprised to hear the news Monday afternoon.

“It was a blatant power grab, and they showed no respect for Jan Angel,” said Vivian Henderson, a South Kitsap resident and executive director of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners. “This is why we need home rule. There is too much power with two people.”

Henderson was referring to the home rule charter, which will go to voters Feb. 5. The charter calls for five nonpartisan county councilmembers to be elected in district-only elections. It also would create a new elected county executive.

“There is too much power with just two commissioners,” said Henderson, who slammed the door to the commissioners’ chambers in disgust after the nomination. “There is no separation of power right now in county government. The charter would create the county executive position and a majority among councilmembers would be three among five.”

Endresen and Botkin said state law doesn’t require the chairmanship to rotate among the commissioners. The law only indicates that the commissioners must nominate their own chair.

They also noted that Angel has said she didn’t feel ready for the job because she is the newest commissioner.

Angel, however, denied those claims at the commissioner hearing on Monday.

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