Kitsap voters oust favored candidates
By CHARLIE BERMANT
Central Kitsap Reporter Kitsap County Writer
August 22, 2008 · Updated 3:24 PM
Conventional logic was turned on its head in two Kitsap County political contests in Tuesday night’s primary election, as the perceived front-runners came in third and were disqualified in their respective races.
Republican Tim Matthes drew the most votes in the South Kitsap Commissioner’s race, followed by Democrat Charlotte Garrido — who preceded current two-term SK Commissioner Jan Angel in that office.
Monty Mahan, who was the first to declare for the seat and earned the endorsement of local mayors, came in third.
For the Kitsap County Superior Court judgeship, Jeanette Dalton had the lead with Bruce Danielson finishing second.
Greg Wall, who was endorsed by Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge and several other high-profile lawyers, finished a disappointing third.
Both contests are for seats that opened up with the retirement of the incumbent. And both showed wide margins that are not expected to change when all the votes are counted.
Matthes led the total with 4,831 votes (41.78 percent), while Garrido managed 3,820 (33.03 percent).
Mahan tallied 2,365 votes (20.45 percent), while Independent candidate Paul Nuchims, who withdrew from the race this weekend, received 531 votes (4.59 percent).
Garrido has run in the past five commissioner’s races, serving one term.
She was defeated in the 2000 Democratic primary by Dusty Wiley, who was in turn defeated by Angel.
Garrido unsuccessfully challenged Angel in 2004.
“I’ve been diligently active in the community for 31 years,” she said of her persistence. “This is a unique county, and I think I can make a difference.”
Matthes said he was “surprised and relieved” about coming in first, but said he expected to face Mahan in the general election.
He expected to run a strong campaign against Garrido, saying, “Charlotte has a strong constituency in South Kitsap but she has a history. I expect we will examine some of the votes she made as commissioner.”
Only South Kitsap residents voted in Tuesday’s primary for South Kitsap races, but the two candidates will face voters throughout the county in the fall.
Garrido is thought to have an advantage in North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, both heavily Democratic, but Matthes does not concede these areas.
He said he will campaign heavily up north, adding, “A lot of people tell me I shouldn’t even bother with Bainbridge Island, but I think I can do well there.”
Mahan said he was surprised by the third-place finish, although he was not as sure of his victory as some of his supporters.
“I was in a state of shock when I heard the first results,” Mahan said. “I think it was a low turnout, which worked in Tim’s favor.”
In fact, Kitsap County Elections Supervisor Dolores Gilmore said the turnout was higher than anticipated.
A total of 40,000 votes were counted Tuesday, with another 30,000 expected.
Even with the large ballot volume coming in, she does not expect the outcomes will be affected.
“When the percentages are this far apart, it is rare that the results change,” Gilmore said.
Dalton, who was the most recent entry in the judge’s race, received 14,718 (43.29 percent), followed by 11,132 (32.74 percent) for Danielson and 8,065 (23.72 percent) for Wall.
Dalton congratulated Wall for a well-run race, saying, “He is a well-qualified candidate and it was a pleasure appearing with him at several forums.”
She did not have the same praise for Danielson, who has declined to campaign in front of or accept money from local attorneys.
Danielson was rated as “unqualified” to be a judge by the local Bar Association, and also was the subject of two anonymous document leaks criticizing his past conduct. While Dalton said “the Bar Association has spoken,” she promised to run a positive campaign.
Tuesday’s primary also included two South Kitsap legislative races where there were only two candidates — meaning the results had no effect on the fall contest.
South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel edged Former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, 5,056 (51.73 percent) to 4,672 (47.81 percent).
Also in the 26th District, incumbent Rep. Larry Seaquist drew 5,592 (58.41 percent) votes over Marlyn Jensen, who received 3,951 votes (41.27 percent).
The 26th District covers both Kitsap and Pierce Counties, where Republicans Angel and Jensen made better showings (although the leader did not change).
In Pierce, Angel received 4,433 votes (53.21 percent) to 3,872 (46.48 percent) for Abel. Seaquist prevailed with 4,379 votes (52.28 percent) to Jensen’s 3,971 (47.41 percent).
In other local state races, 35th District Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Belfair) outdistanced challengers Bremerton City Councilman Brad Gehring and Mason County resident Marco Brown by a decisive margin.
As of Thursday afternoon, Haigh had 13,116 votes or 57 percent, while Gehring and Brown were separated by less than 130 votes for the right to challenge Haigh in November.
“I’m pretty pleased. I was hoping to have about 58 to 60 percent,” said Haigh, who is seeking her fifth term in office.
In the other 35th District state representative race, Thurston County businessman Fred Finn led Belfair businessman Randy Neatherlin by more than 1,400 votes in the race to replace former state Rep. William “Ike” Eickmeyer, who did not seek another term.
“We’re very pleased with the results,” Finn said, adding that there’s still a lot of work to do in the 35th District.
On the to-do list are dealing with transportation issues, especially the state’s ferries system, ensuring the Hood Canal isn’t forgotten in the efforts to clean up the Puget Sound and fully funding basic education, Finn said.
Although Neatherlin trailed Finn in the primary, he said he was pleased with the results, especially because he spent far less on his campaign than his opponent and entered the race at the last minute.
“It can be done without being bought,” Neatherlin said. “I think it shows how government should work.”
With former Mason County Commissioner Herb Baze out of the race for November, Neatherlin said he believes those votes will go to him and even if Finn carries Thurston County, Neatherlin said he expects to win.
Gilmore said the ballot process ran without a glitch. One change from previous years is that a greater percentage of voters personally delivered their ballots to the office in Port Orchard.
Gilmore said the office will count ballots on a daily basis up to Sept. 3, when the election will be certified.
Washington, who was appointed as auditor in March and is running for his first elected term, said there are several outreach programs in development to get voters registered for the Nov. 4 General Election.
Kitsap Free Daily Editor Charles Melton contributed to this report.