Our Top News Story of 2002: Voters Ruled!

If Time Magazine were to come to Kitsap County and name a Man or Woman of the Year, it would be — the voters.

Through many of the Top 10 Stories for 2002 selected by the staff of the Central Kitsap Reporter, it was John and Jane Voter who spoke most vehemently and made things happen in 2002.

Time and time again their voices rang out in Silverdale, the Port Orchard county sea and in Olympia. Here are some of the things they said and the ways they shaped our Top 10 News Stories for 2002:

No. 1: No New Taxes. Once, twice, three times voters in Kitsap County turn their noses up and thumbs down to new taxes. They joined the crescendo of state voters who sent the transportation Ref. 51 crashing to a stunning defeat. Voters wanted no part of 9 cents per gallon gas tax that would have raised $7.7 billion for transportation projects. They also didn’t want to pay anything toward improving Parks and Recreation in the county nor did they want to restore $1.2 million in cuts to the Kitsap County budget.

No. 2: Tim Botkin bounced. After one term in office, Central Kitsap County Commissioner Tim Botkin was summarily dismissed from his office by voters who chose instead former Bremerton travel agency owner Patty Lent to represent them. So also, did Botkin’s cause celebre — Smart Growth — take a heavy hit from voters. The swing in Central Kitsap and all of Kitsap County is more toward land rights and property rights and away from the government’s overall interest in controlling sprawl and limiting growth to urban areas. Voters seemed to say: We’ll tell you where we want to grow — we don’t want the government to tell us.

No. 3: Funding of Education: With the $2 billion budget crisis in state government, hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding for CK schools is in peril. According to assistant CKSD superintendent Gary Powell, not only will teachers not get funded by regular cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) amounting to $1.5 million locally, he said, but “cuts in other areas may lose us almost $1 million. We had $800,000 in cuts last year.” Powell said state levy equalization funding giving money to districts with less levy income, to bring them up to par with districts that have fatter voter-approved levies, could cost CKSD another $600,000.”

Even prior to Gov. Locke announcing his 2003 budget which cut a swath through education funding, the CK teachers and staff unions (CKEA and the CKESP) had voted to join the Day of Action in Olympia, Wash. on Jan. 14, 2002 to lobby hard so education would not get slashed by Locke and state legislators.

No. 4: The Silverdale Community Campus concept was an idea that stayed on everybody’s radar screen throughout the year. The one-site-for-all could include a Kitsap Regional Library, performing arts center, concert hall, community center, conference center, senior center, teen center, kitchen, parking garage and even an outdoor pool. But when the Central Kitsap Community Council introduced a rough plan for a Community Campus near Old Town Silverdale, a small political bomb went off. Residents and business owners in the area castigated the choice and claim to have been left out of the process. Left on the drawing room floor was the regional library concept for Silverdale. After Nov. 5 elections and the rough reception for an Old Town Community Campus site, backers of the new library bond vote (scheduled for February 2003) pulled the plug on a vote.

No. 5: The Kitsap County Charter was defeated soundly in February 2002 balloting. Voters wanted no part of a new form of government that would have created a less-politicized five-member county council with a county administrator. The yearlong work of the Kitsap County Freeholders thus went for nothing.

No. 6: After 10 years of work, the Clear Creek Trail was dedicated on Oct. 5-6. A huge bridge over the creek put in place earlier in the summer behind the Ross Plaza was a major piece in finishing the trail. The magnificent nature trail and hiking path runs from Dyes Inlet northward to a point near the Peterson Farm past Waaga Way.

No. 7: In one of the grandest community efforts ever seen in Silverdale, the massive KitsapKids Playground was built from May 28 to June 2. Hundreds of volunteers worked round the clock for a week to get the huge $250,000, 14,000 square-foot playground erected at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road and Stampede Boulevard. The people and organizations involved run the gamut from A to Z — to numerous to be mentioned here, each is to be commended for a project that will last for generations.

No. 8: Rain on a biblical scale fell in Central Kitsap in January 2002 — including four inches in one 24-hour period. Washed away was a chunk of a culvert on Taylor Road near Chico which effectively cut off the Seventh Day Adventist Church complex and Holly Ridge Development Center. County Commissioners declared a state of emergency at one point.

No. 9: Central Kitsap School District successful passed a maintenance and operations levy in March by a huge 2-1 margin — the largest margin of victory in more than a decade.

No. 10: The end of Endfest came in 2002. To the glee of many neighbors in the Kitsap County Fairgrounds area, the huge August music festival ended a 10-year run in Kitsap County when it moved to the outdoor venue at The Gorge in George, Wash. Neighbors had grown weary of the event and its young people bent on noise, litter, haphazard parking, vandalism and public intoxication.

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