Knobloch, Brackett fare well in primary returns

Now campaign spending ramps up, and more debates are on the horizon.

The field for the upcoming City Council election is set: Bill Knobloch versus John Waldo, Kim Brackett versus Curt Winston and Matt van Winkle versus Hilary Franz.

Three contested seats, six candidates and a slew of issues that were barely broached in earlier discussions now will take center stage, according to candidates eager to square off in November’s general election.

“I’d love to go toe to toe with Kim Brackett,” said Winston of the prospect of a more in-depth debate than was seen in the primary. “I think it would be fun.”

For Winston, Brackett, Knobloch and Waldo, the fun began Tuesday evening, when the first returns of the low-turnout primary were unveiled.

Incumbent Knobloch emerged from the crowded Central Ward race with a healthy victory, tallying 929 votes (44 percent), compared to John Waldo’s 583 votes (28 percent). Both will move on, while CarolAnn Barrows (20 percent) and Lauren Sato Ellis (7 percent) will not advance past the primary.

South Ward candidate Brackett overcame a negative advertising blitz by a local developer, garnering 971 votes (49 percent). She will move on to face Winston, who earned 607 votes (31 percent). Robert Dashiell (19 percent) did not advance.

Because the Aug. 21 primary only included races in which more than two candidates were seeking a seat, Franz and van Winkle were not on the card. Neither was environmental activist Barry Peters, who is running unopposed for the at-large council seat.

Just 33 percent of registered voters countywide participated in the non-partisan primary.

For Knobloch, who said he wasn’t sure what to expect, it was a satisfying week.

“I’m very pleased with the results,” he said, adding that his supporters spent long hours passing out campaign literature and knocking on doors in the Central Ward. “After six years in office you never know for sure how much you’re resonating with people or how many people have differing views. This was a good barometer.”

Waldo was surprised by the outcome.

“Congratulations to Bill,” he said. “If people are upset with poor relations among the council, they must not think it rubbed off on him to a great degree.

“This is a heck of a margin to overcome, but we shall see.”

Ellis, a 23-year-old stay-at-home mother, said that unlike Waldo she wasn’t shocked by her election fate.

“I don’t think it’s surprising,” she said. “I hope to see both candidates put a priority on family issues.”

Ellis campaigned on behalf of several “underrepresented” groups on the island, including women, minorities and young people. “It was a good experience and very educational,” she said. “It was a wonderful chance to get to know the community.”

Reactions among the advancing South Ward candidates were optimistic.

“I am deeply gratified at my victory,” said Brackett in a written statement. “With this margin of victory for me, Bainbridge voters have said clearly that we want a positive approach to city government, and I will live up to their expectations – in the general election campaign and on the Council itself.”

Winston said he thinks that those who voted for Dashiell are more likely to switch to his camp than Brackett’s.

“I’m a more moderate candidate,” he said. “Add those votes (Dashiell’s) to my votes and I’m looking pretty good.”

Winston, like his opponent, plans to ramp up his campaign with more advertising. Both had originally filed with the Public Disclosure Commission for a “mini reporting” campaign, which means a candidate plans to spend less than $3,500 on his or her campaign. Brackett said she is nearing that limit, and is in the process of filing for the next tier of reporting to allow her to spend more.

Meanwhile, at least one candidates forum is already set. Candidates will field questions from a moderator and audience members at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the American Legion Colin Hyde Post on Cherry Avenue.

Fred Scheffler, who is helping to organize the event, said it will be structured to allow more detailed answers than are possible in some forums.

“There are a lot of powder puff debates out there with agendas that favor one candidate or another,” Scheffler said. “We’re not going to do that.

“We’ve got a lot of serious problems facing Bainbridge Island that need to be addressed.”

City spending, Winslow Tomorrow, growth, dysfunctional government and the island’s water supply are among the major campaign issues that have emerged thus far.

“These are all issues people are asking about,” Scheffler said. “All the candidates should have the opportunity to discuss them in an open forum.”

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