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Jack Hamilton to challenge Commissioner Lent in primary

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Hamilton
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Kitsap County Commissioner Patty Lent is facing a challenge from within her own party over her alleged abandonment of the party platform.

Jack Hamilton of Silverdale has announced his intention to challenge Lent in the Republican primary. Hamilton is a former Lent supporter who helped her to unseat Democratic incumbent Tim Botkin in 2002.

“Patty made some very specific promises during her campaign,” Hamilton said. “Three years later, she’s failed to honor these promises. Her voting record indicates a complete reversal. Over this time the people who supported her have found it difficult to discuss these matters.”

Hamilton said these include land issues and impact fees. In her first few months in office, Lent voted in favor of the fees, which she previously opposed.

She later reversed that vote “under significant pressure,” according to Hamilton.

Lent was the deciding vote on this issue, while North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen and South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel did not waver from their respective for and against positions.

Subsequently Lent has become the swing vote and has taken a moderate position on several issues. This has displeased Hamilton and other supporters.

Kitsap Alliance for Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson said Lent “let down property owners” with her vote last week to ratify the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO).

As with impact fees, Lent cast the deciding vote on the CAO.

Lent has already filed her disclosure paperwork and said she intends to run as a Republican. This followed rumors that she would switch parties, something Kitsap County Democratic Chair Sharon Peterson said was never a possibility.

Lent said she is a conservative Republican, but as a commissioner she addresses many issues that do not follow a party line. And she does not refer to the party platform to decide her vote.

Peterson said the Democratic Party has approached several people about running for the seat, but she declined to divulge their identities. “We need to wait to see who makes up their mind,” she said.

Due to the crossover aspects of election law, Peterson said some Democratic voters could cast a vote for Hamilton feeling he would be easier to defeat than Lent.

While the commissioners perceive their jobs as nonpartisan, they rely on the parties for election support. Both Hamilton and Peterson say the parties play a large role in the commissioners’ election.

“People want to know the ideology of the person they’re voting for,” Hamilton said. “The people who run might not have a public record that you can examine.”

Peterson, however, questioned the wisdom of a primary challenge of an incumbent office holder.

“We (the Democrats) would not do that,” she said.

District 3 (Central Kitsap) voters will decide the Hamilton-Lent contest in the primary, which will occur in August or September. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in a countywide vote in November.

Both Lent and Hamilton expressed willingness to participate in campaign debates. Lent said she would use the contents of those interactions to judge whether she would support Hamilton should he defeat her in the primary. Hamilton, on the other hand, said he would not support Lent if she defeats him in the primary.

“I won’t work against her,” he said. “But if she is the nominee, then I will stay home.”

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