Opinion

Honoring two women who have served Kitsap well

TORRENS TALK

It seemed a fitting end to March, Women’s History Month. Last Friday, March 28, I had the privilege of attending two events that celebrated two women in our county in recognition of all the hard work and dedication they brought to their jobs as public servants.

The first event occurred mid-afternoon at the Marina Park in Port Orchard. It was a ceremony to unveil the new name of the Children’s Park. The honoree was Mary Ann Huntington, former Port of Bremerton commissioner.

A better way to say thank you to Mary Ann for all her hard work as a port commissioner could not be found. This park was something she had envisioned literally for more than two decades and through her persistence, it now exists. Mary Ann Huntington Children’s Park is a beautiful little pocket park and is clearly needed as evidenced by the youth who were using it while the ceremonies took place.

Remarks by Port Executive Director Ken Atterbury, Port Commissioner Bill Mahan and former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel all spoke to the time and energy that Mary Ann brought to her commissioner position. They acknowledged her long-lasting contributions to the port and the Port Orchard area in which she lives. The naming of the park for her is a most fitting tribute.

The other event was in the evening at Kiana Lodge where more than 100 people gathered to say goodbye and thanks to outgoing Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn. It was a bittersweet night for many as it meant that Karen would no longer be at the courthouse doing her job, but it was an opportunity to share with others the role Karen has played in many lives both in the county and across the state.

The evening’s activity was emceed by County Clerk Dave Peterson. He was one of many elected officials there to honor Karen. One of the more prominent elected officials was Secretary of State Sam Reed. He was one of more than a dozen speakers who related their experiences with Karen. They ranged from humorous to heartfelt but they all had a similar theme: Karen is a highly valued public servant who will be sorely missed by all those who have worked for her and with her.

Karen was described as sweet, having grace under fire and a solid core of determination to do what was right and proper for the citizens of Kitsap County. It was impressive to see how many people came from out of the area to share their love and admiration for Karen.

From Olympia came Sam Reed, State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Doug Cochran of his office and a representative from the Washington State Department of Licensing. Karen received a state proclamation from Sam Reed and a special license plate saying “Luv You.”

Bob Terwilliger, former Snohomish County auditor and current administrator for Superior and Juvenile Court, Snohomish County; Thad Duvall, Douglas County auditor and president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors; Deborah Wilke, executive director of the Washington Association of County Officials; and Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor) also traveled from outside of Kitsap County to honor Karen. They all shared stories of the impact that Karen had on them.

Locally, County Commissioners Steve Bauer and Josh Brown attended. So did former county commissioner and current state director for Sen. Maria Cantwell, Chris Endresen. There also was Sheriff Steve Boyer, State Appellate Court Judge Robin Hunt, Superior Court Judges Anna Laurie, Russ Hartman, Jay Roof and Theodore Spearman. And, these were the people that I saw.

Both Steve and Chris spoke plus Chris carried a message from Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) who was unable to attend. But, the surprise of the night was the appearance of Dean Logan, former Kitsap County deputy auditor and Kitsap County clerk and now in charge of elections for Los Angeles County. Working in Karen’s office had a profound impact on Dean’s life. He met his wife while working in her office and he learned the job so well he was recruited by Sam Reed to run the state’s elections division. What better testimony to how well Karen did her job as a public servant, leader and mentor than to see how well her former employee has done.

Both of these women have dedicated a large portion of their adult lives to making Kitsap a better place for all of us. We are fortunate they chose to serve us and I am honored to call them friends.

Val Torrens appears Wednesdays in the CK Reporter.

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