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Chico resident to run for Port of Bremerton seat

Roger Zabinski says he wants to help the Port of Bremerton create ‘livable wage jobs.’

While it is not clear yet if Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer plans to run again for her District 1 seat, it is certain she has at least one challenger.

Chico resident Roger Zabinski, 40, said he is interested in the future success of Kitsap County, and becoming a port commissioner seemed like the perfect fit for his skills and passions.

“I live in the port district and pay its taxes and wanted to become involved,” he said, explaining his background in economics and chemistry are a “logical fit” for much of the port’s initiatives, including its Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project.

“What does science have to do with economic development? It has a lot to do with it,” he said, pointing out that technology manufacturer Hewlett-Packard was “formed by chemists. A lot of companies have been formed by scientists.”

When it comes to SEED, Zabinski said he supports the general idea of such a project, but thinks it “desperately needs more specifics, along with a project timeline and funding plan.

“I worked at an incubator facility on Long Island and for startup companies and understand what it takes to bring technology from idea to fruition,” he said. “It takes more than a vote from a panel, and it takes more than building a building.”

And the port needs to extend that sort of planning to all areas of its operation, Zabinski said, explaining he was “pleasantly surprised” to hear this week that Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman will take over as chief executive officer, particularly when hearing of Bozeman’s goal of creating a “five-year plan.”

“I am very supportive of that,” Zabinski said, explaining he believes the port has needed to formulate a comprehensive plan for some time. “They may have one, but the answers I got from (the commissioners and staff) was that there wasn’t one.”

He described Bozeman as a man with “a lot of experience and great vision,” and he would enjoy working with him.

Zabinski said he also was inspired to run for the seat as a way to improve communication between the port board and the public.

“I will have an open-door policy and be responsive to the public,” adding he thought there should be “clear communication” between the commissioners and the taxpayers to “make sure people understand what it is that the port is doing.

“We need fair representation and fair transparency,” he continued. “Good economic development (doesn’t have to be) a burden on the taxpayers; we can improve our strategies and our public relations.”

Born in Minnesota and raised in Idaho, Zabinski majored in economics and chemistry at Bard College in New York before joining the Air Force Reserves and serving for 14 years as an Air Force medical and disaster preparedness instructor.

He went on to earn master’s degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry, and is currently a research scientist and project manager at deCode biostructures on Bainbridge Island.

Zabinski and his family moved to Kitsap County as “full-time residents” in 2005.

He serves as secretary of the Central Kitsap Community Council and chairs its economic development and land use committee as well as the environment and parks committee.

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