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Five hope to succeed Bauer on county board
A Poulsbo City Council member, a leader of the Japanese American community of Bainbridge, and a Kingston park commissioner are among the candidates hoping to succeed Steve Bauer on the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.
Five people have requested applications to be considered for the soon-to-be vacant position, said Michael Arnold, chairman of the Kitsap County Democrats Executive Board. The Democratic Central Committee will accept applications until Feb. 11.
At a Feb. 22 special caucus, the party will recommend three candidates to sitting commissioners Josh Brown and Charlotte Garrido, who could pick his replacement as early as Feb. 28.
Bauer, 65, announced his resignation in January, effective at the end of February.
So far, Linda Berry-Maraist, Rob Gelder, Clarence Moriwaki, Patrick Pearson and Laurie Serdahl have said they will apply, Arnold said. Applicants must be residents of the county’s 1st District, which includes North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island.
Bauer emerged from among more than 10 candidates to replace resigning Commissioner Chris Endresen in 2007. He was elected to a four-year term in 2008.
“I was hoping to duplicate that,” Arnold said.
Commissioners, who earn $109,907 annually, set policy, approve laws and manage a $325 million budget. Terms are for four years, but Arnold said the person appointed to the board will have agree to run in this year's election to complete Bauer's term, which expires in 2012.
Linda Berry-Maraist had served eight years on the Kitsap Public Facilities District board before being elected to the Poulsbo City Council in 2008. She serves on the North Kitsap Trails Association, Ecosystem Coordination Board Puget Sound Partnership, Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Policy Board.
"I think there's a lot going on in the county and there's a lot of things I'm interested in," she said.
Berry-Maraist worked as an architect for 18 years. She moved to Poulsbo in 1986.
Rob Gelder has lived and worked in Poulsbo as director of fund development for Martha & Mary for seven years. He previously worked for the Seattle-based Washington Health Foundation, which distributes funds for health care access to rural communities.
Gelder, 44, said he hopes to tackle the major challenges facing the county, including urban growth and maintaining acceptable service levels on a tight budget. He said he wants to continue working toward the establishment of Kingston's Village Green and the North Kitsap Legacy Partnership.
Gelder had considered running for commissioner in 2012, and Bauer's resignation "has accelerated my decision-making process," he said.
He served two terms as chairman of the 23rd Legislative District Democrats, and served as a citizen representative through the past three county budget cycles.
Bainbridge Island's Clarence Moriwaki was one of the three finalists for the commission seat in 2007. Why try again?
"Politics have been a huge part of my professional life and I have a real passion for public service," he said. "I've been involved in politics at many different levels, including as a staff person for local, state and federal politicians. I've also been an elected official.
Moriwaki, 55, served on the Tukwila City Council from 1988-91.
He was CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington until Friday, when he resigned to join a public relations firm in Seattle. But he has put that move on hold until a decision is made on the commissioners' opening. Moriwaki worked as a public information officer for Kitsap County for nine months until April 2007.
He was also the driving force behind the island's Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Committee, working on the project for about 10 years.
Moriwaki said his strength is his ability to achieve common goals through compromise.
"I hope to bring a level of civility to the office," he said. "That's critical because there are a lot of problems right now. In this climate, it's important that we get all of the special-interest groups working together. If not, then the problems will only get worse. We're a small county and so we can't afford divisions."
Moriwaki said he had demonstrated an ability to be successful in difficult projects throughout his career, citing the Japanese American memorial on Bainbridge.
"There had been divisiveness there for 65 years," he said, "so getting a unanimous vote in Congress for its approval took a lot of hard work and consensus building. People working together on something like that can really make a difference."
Teacher and volunteer Patrick Pearson said he's still deciding whether to submit an application. It's a decision he's been discussing with friends.
"One person said, 'Great,' one person said, 'You're nuts,'" Pearson said jokingly.
Pearson, 55, has lived in the Kingston area since 1990.
He serves on the board of North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the newly created Village Green Metropolitan Park District. A longtime educator, he recently became a teacher at the Suquamish Tribe's early learning center.
Pearson has a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.
Crafting county policy is something "I've always been interested in," Pearson said.
Pearson said he would take the next week to consider the decision and see who else applies.
Laurie Serdahl has been keeping an eye on county politics, especially when it comes to park and trail policy.
"I'm very outdoor-recreation oriented," the Lemolo resident said. "That's something I'm really passionate about.”
Serdahl, 58, is a Kitsap native. She graduated from West Bremerton High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education and history from Seattle Pacific University.
Serdahl's professional experience is long and varied. She worked as a ordinance inspector at Naval Base Kitsap-Keyport before launching an 18-year career in the athletic shoe and apparel industry. She lived in Spokane before settling in North Kitsap.
Serdahl has been an active advocate for recreation and health. As a member of Leadership Kitsap in 2010, she helped organize a fun run in Poulsbo to collect hygiene products for the homeless. She leads an outdoors group on monthly trips to the Olympic Peninsula. Serdahl served for two years on the state Inland Fish Advisory Policy Group.
— Herald reporters Jennifer Morris and Tad Sooter, and Bainbridge Island Review editor Dennis Anstine contributed to this story.