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Zabinski leading Horton in Port of Bremerton Commissioner race

Political newcomer Roger Zabinski will likely be joining the Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners as he ended Tuesday’s election night with a solid lead over former Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton in the race for Cheryl Kincer’s District 1 Commissioner seat.

As of 4:51 p.m. Thursday, the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office had Zabinski earning 54.04 percent (12,772) of the votes and Horton with 44.91 percent (10,613).

“It’s a surprise,” Zabinski said after the early returns Nov. 3. “I felt that either way, it was a good campaign that raised public awareness about the port and its role.”

Horton said she was also surprised by the results, and guessed that Zabinski was buoyed by the votes of South Kitsap residents, who were not allowed to vote in the primary.

Horton was the solid winner in the August contest, collecting 48 percent of the votes while Zabinski collected 29.6 percent, and Gene Hart 20.5 percent.

“I certainly didn’t think it was going to be such a big lead for Roger,” she said. “I guess the south end really came out for him. I feel a little bit stymied.”

Zabinski, who lives in Chico and works as a scientist on Bainbridge Island, said he did not run for the commissioner job to begin a career in politics, but because he “didn’t like how business was being run.

“Why did we raise taxes without communicating with the public at all?” he said prior to the election. “We need a change.”

Kincer is one of three port commissioners — along with Mary Ann Huntington and Bill Mahan — who decided to impose an Industrial Development District (IDD) levy without voter approval to build a new marina in Bremerton.

Many South Kitsap residents have since expressed anger about the levy in general, and in particular that their tax dollars built a project that nearly exclusively benefitted Bremerton.

Huntington, who ran for re-election in 2007, was soundly defeated by South Kitsap resident Larry Stokes. Mahan’s current term will end in two years.

During his campaign, Zabinski stressed the need for the port to become “financially stable,” and said Tuesday night that the port recently finding a tenant for its long vacant Salo Building was “a step in the right direction.”

As for his next step, Zabinksi said he was going to “try and get a good night’s sleep,” then get ready for “a lot of listening” as he prepares for his new role as commissioner.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office had 21,000 more ballots to count, and hoped to have 10,000 of those processed by Wednesday evening. The results will not be certified until Nov. 24.

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