Lent stuns Botkin in CK commish race

Ken Perry, right, looks at his voters pamphlet as Bob Houlder fills in his ballot during Nov.5 voting at Emerald Ridge Elementary School in the Ridgetop area Tuesday afternoon. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Ken Perry, right, looks at his voters pamphlet as Bob Houlder fills in his ballot during Nov.5 voting at Emerald Ridge Elementary School in the Ridgetop area Tuesday afternoon.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Though the victor in the Kitsap County Commissioner race, Republican Patty Lent was still surprised by her considerable lead over first-term incumbent Tim Botkin on Election night.

“This is a bit of a shock,” she said from the Cloverleaf Tavern and Pizzas in East Bremerton on Election Day evening.

Lent and about 170 supporters and volunteers celebrated the end of her campaign at the East Bremerton pub, which was decorated earlier that day.

The latest returns showed Lent leading with 54.5 percent of the vote, while Botkin garnered about 45 percent.

“I’m just very excited and I want to thank all those who worked so hard, every minute, in my campaign,” she said.

Lent’s election to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners marks the first time in 34 years a Republican majority has prevailed.

And it’s the first time in Kitsap County history the commissioners have all been women. According to Washington State Association of Counties officials, it will be the only entirely female standing board of county commissioners in the state.

“I think Kitsap County is ready for the changes,” Lent said, though she sees the gender of the board members as irrelevant.

“I expect a serious effort to be made to address the critical issues facing Kitsap County right now,” said Shirley Brown, chairwoman of the Kitsap County Republican Party. “The county needs help now — there is a budget that needs work, and with her background in private business, she can take a professional approach toward the budget. The other issue is economic development.”

Although Brown said Lent did a wonderful job driving home the linchpin of her campaign — the need for economic development and county budget reforms — she said she was still surprised at the results.

“I think we expected it to be a little closer,” she said, “but we also worked hard to get more voters out by contacting them and using the phone banks.”

In the days after the election, Botkin was back to work at the courthouse.

Before he considers his next move, Botkin said he must finish out his term.

“I don’t have any regrets about my campaign or my time as a county commissioner,” Botkin said. “I believe deep down that if you find a person who cares greatly about what’s going on in county government, and you give me 10 minutes with that person ... I just didn’t get my message out.”

Botkin said he’s worried about the gap between what the county commissioners are doing on a daily basis compared with what the public thinks they are doing.

John Morgan, the chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Kitsap County said he’s still evaluating what happened during the campaign.

“We are going to take a long, hard look at this,” he said. “It could have been the negative campaigning aspect, and the fact the Republicans made Smart Growth into some kind of bogeyman.”

Botkin is a proponent of Smart Growth, a type of land-use philosophy, and helped organize the county’s Smart Growth coalition, which involves Realtors, the Kitsap Homebuilders and others.

Notably, Botkin’s stance on Smart Growth drew the ire of Hansville resident Michael Svardh, who made and posted hundreds of “Dump Bot‘king’” signs throughout the county and published a newsletter deriding Botkin’s term of office.

“The voters are in a very negative mood, which becomes more clear if you look at what has happened with the referendums and the Public Facilities District tax proposal,” Morgan said.

During her campaign Lent emphasized the need for county budget reform, and pointed to her background in the business world, including the travel industry, to give her the tools to work on that problem.

Lent and her supporters also say professional time spent forming contacts oversees has helped bring business into Washington state, and she hopes to do the same for Kitsap County.

When she joins the board in January, Lent will work with Republican Jan Angel and Democrat Chris Endresen, representing South and North Kitsap, respectively.

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