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Appleton enters race for House

POULSBO — Another North Ender has thrown their hat into the ring to run for Phil Rockefeller’s seat in the legislature.

And this time, it’s a face local voters have seen before.

Poulsbo resident and former Poulsbo City Councilwoman Sherry Appleton announced Tuesday that she will be running for the 23rd Legislative District Position 1 seat.

Appleton said she decided to declare her candidacy after talking to Rockefeller at 23rd District Sen. Betti Sheldon’s retirement announcement last week. Appleton, who will run as a Democrat, said Rockefeller is expected to announce that he is running for Sheldon’s open seat sometime closely following the March 11 closure of the legislative session.

“It’s an open seat. We’re presuming Phil is going to run for the Senate,” Appleton commented. “Phil said he wanted to wait to announce and not lose focus right now.”

Appleton added that running for an open seat is much less costly than running against an incumbent, something that she has been concerned with. She added that she’s keeping her options open at this point and could re-file for another position if she decided.

But if Appleton chooses to stick with the Position 1 race, she will not be alone. Kingston resident Paulette DeGard has also filed for Rockefeller’s seat.

An eight year stint on the Poulsbo City Council is Appleton’s elected experience to date. During her tenure with Poulsbo, she was on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Washington Cities and a trustee on its health trust. The Democrat was also one of the founders of the council coalition, which brought elected officials from all four cities in Kitsap County together quarterly.

“I felt communication between all four of the councils was very important,” Appleton said.

Appleton previously ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Ellen Craswell in 1988 and 1992. In 2002, she lost out on Rep. Beverly Woods’ Position 2 seat by a very narrow margin of about 4 percent.

Though she has never held office in Olympia, Appleton has worked there for the last 10 years. She is currently the public affairs representative for the League of Women Voters of Washington State, the Washington Defender Association and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She said this experience has prepared her for a legislative seat — she could hit the ground running for her constituents.

“First of all is the benefit of knowing the process and coming in being prepared to do things and not having to learn the process,” Appleton said. “I already know who the players are and what needs to be done.”

One of the biggest issues Appleton hopes to tackle in the legislature is transportation, specifically passenger-only ferries. While a partnership between public and private entities may soon revive foot ferries for Kitsap County, Appleton said she is still interested in proposing the state help with some of the costs.

“I consider them the sidewalks of the Sound,” she explained.

Appleton added that getting Washington to foot some of the cost passenger-only ferries is going to be an increasingly important issue for the Peninsula. With the Tacoma Narrows Bridge converting to a toll span, Appleton said getting to Kitsap County will become a pay-only affair.

“The only way not to pay is to go more than 100 miles out of your way and for families that don’t have a lot of money to begin with, I think that’s going to be a problem,” she said.

Other issues Appleton has an interest in include creating infrastructure to create more jobs, education, environment and affordable health care.

“We’re looking forward to a very spirited campaign,” Appleton said. “I think there’s change in the air. People are so energized after being at the caucuses and they’re eager for change and we’re excited to be part of that change.”

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