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Growth, Winslow of primary focus

Voters in the south and central wards will narrow the field in the new August balloting.

Check your mailbox.

If you live in the South or Central Ward of Bainbridge Island and your ballot for the Aug. 21 primary hasn’t yet arrived, it will soon. On it will be seven names jockeying for four slots on the ballot for November’s general election.

In the Central Ward, incumbent Bill Knobloch is trying to retain his seat; challenging him are stay-at-home mother Lauren Sato Ellis, attorney John Waldo and artist and environmental activist CarolAnn Barrows.

Candidates for Jim Llewellyn’s soon-to-be-vacated South Ward seat are retired Navy officer Robert Dashiell, environmental activist Kim Brackett and retired federal transportation manager Curtis Winston.

In all, four council seats are up for grabs this year. In the North Ward, Matt van Winkle will challenge Hilary Franz for Councilman Bob Scales’ seat; Barry Peters is running unopposed for the At Large seat now occupied by Nezam Tooloee.

Those candidates don’t appear on this month’s ballot because the primary only includes races in which more than two candidates are running. Each race will be narrowed to two candidates following the primary. Eligible voters who have not received a ballot by Friday should call the Kitsap County Elections Division at 842-2061.

To be counted, ballots must be completed and postmarked by Aug. 21.

Major campaign issues so far include city spending, council relations, affordable housing, growth, Winslow Tomorrow and the island’s water supply, which currently is being studied to determine its capacity.

Specific policy debates have centered around the state’s Growth Management Act – which directs population planning – and the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance, which regulates development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Here is a look at each primary race. Profiles are based on interviews with candidates and answers from last month’s Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate.

Central Ward

Bill Knobloch

Bottom line: Incumbent Knobloch has served on the council since 2000. His campaign is focused on taxpayer money, water and Winslow Tomorrow. He supports the replacement of utilities beneath Winslow Way and the construction of a new senior center, though he stressed the importance of controlled spending. He said the ongoing struggles among current council members have been an obstacle to his campaign.

“The biggest difficulty I’m faced with is ensuring I’m not painted with the ‘dysfunctional’ paintbrush,” Knobloch said. He said many of his constituents have referred to him as the “voice of reason” in the council.

Aside from being a councilor, Knobloch is a former commercial airline and Navy pilot and retired aircraft carrier squadron commander.

On the island’s economy: Bainbridge draws less revenue from sales and Business and Occupation taxes than other nearby cities like Poulsbo, Knobloch said. Thus, the city should “nurture” the local economy.

“What we have to do is work with what we have,” he said. “We have to be realistic about what the economy is on Bainbridge Island.”

On affordable housing: Knobloch said the city should start by focusing on parcels of land that already have been identified as a possible affordable housing sites. “Dirt is the key to affordable housing,” he said.

On island growth: Knobloch said the amount of growth the island can endure depends on how much potable water is ion we can’t answer,” he said.

On the Critical Areas Ordinance: Knobloch voted against the CAO, calling it a “patchwork of compromises.”

“With our environment you cannot have subjective interpretation of our codes,” he said.

On Winslow Tomorrow: Knobloch acknowledged past planning mistakes, especially with the still-unrealized Waterfront Park restroom. He said the streetscape and other proposed projects need to be studied thoroughly to ensure they make sense financially.

On the city’s capital needs: Knobloch’s priorities are a new senior center, community center, police and court facility. He also wants better wastewater treatment and changes to the city’s land use codes.

Lauren Sato Ellis

Bottom line: Ellis said she’s running on behalf of several groups not currently represented on the council, including women, minorities and young people. Her top priority is mending relations at City Hall. A 23-year-old mother and renter, Ellis said she is personally familiar with affordable housing and youth issues, including recreation and safer roads.

She has a background in education and is co-director of a small humanitarian nonprofit organization.

On the island’s economy: Ellis said the city needs to focus only on the most vital projects, and cut out wasteful spending.

“We need to refurbish utilities under Winslow Way,” she said. “We don’t need a street-sweeper going by my house several times a month.”

On affordable housing: Ellis favors Community Land Trusts, which eliminate the cost of land for buyers, making home ownership possible for those with lower incomes.

On island growth: Ellis said water is the “absolute first priority” when it comes to absorbing growth. Outside of Winslow, she said, growth should be clustered, as long as the island has enough water resources.

On the Critical Areas Ordinance: Ellis said the city should tap into a local wealth of ecologists to improve the CAO. “We need better shoreline buffer zones,” she said.

On Winslow Tomorrow: Only those projects that are affordable should proceed, Ellis said. She believes the city should focus on simple improvements, rather than more elaborate plans.

On the city’s capital needs: Ellis stressed the need for new utilities and safer streets and sidewalks. A community center and new senior center also are needed, she said.

John Waldo

Bottom line: Waldo, an attorney and former reporter for the Bainbridge Review, listed repairing relations at City Hall among his top priorities, along with Winslow Tomorrow. He also is focused on water, taxes and diversity, and said he hopes to reduce the what he characterized as “way too much” process in city government.

Waldo said his goal is to make Bainbridge a “national model for growing green.”

He has worked with Winslow Tomorrow and the 2025 Growth Advisory Committee.

On the island’s economy: Waldo is worried about the changing composition of downtown, including the loss of anchor tenants in recent years. He emphasized the need for “trade-offs.”

On affordable housing: Waldo favors zoning changes that would allow for accessory dwelling units. He also wants the city to act quickly and utilize land that has been offered by donors for affordable housing.

On island growth: Saying Winslow may eventually run out of space, Waldo said he thinks the city should cluster growth. Along with looking toward existing growth centers, he said the city should explore other potential growth areas, like Day and Sportsman Club roads.

On the Critical Areas Ordinance: “We’ve spent too much time debating as a political issue what really is a technical issue,” Waldo said.

On Winslow Tomorrow: Waldo said his major concern with Winslow Tomorrow is that it is too often viewed abstractly. He said seemingly separate issues, like parking and affordable housing, are interrelated and must be treated as such.

On the city’s capital needs: Waldo cited Winslow Way utilities, improvements to Ft. Ward Hill Road and the construction of a parking garage as his top capital priorities.

CarolAnn Barrows

Bottom line: Barrows, an environmental activist, has worked with Reclaim Our Waterfront and Ericksen Neighbors, among other local groups. She founded GrowSmart!, a nonprofit that advocated for environmentally friendly development, and ran for mayor of Poulsbo in the late 1990s before being pulled from the race because she didn’t live in the city limits, according to a Kitsap County Auditor’s decision.

Her top priorities are improving city finances, population allocation and halting growth until the city determines how much water is available.

She voiced displeasure with developments like Harbor Square, and expressed disappointment at soured relations among councilors.

On the island’s economy: Barrows is concerned about overspending and inefficiency at City Hall.

On affordable housing: Like Ellis, Barrows favors Community Land Trusts.

On island growth: Barrows said compliance with the GMA is a political decision, and the city isn’t required to accept as much growth as some people believe.

“When a human body reaches maturity it stops growing,” she said. “And if it keeps growing it’s called obesity.”

On the Critical Areas Ordinance: Agreeing with Waldo, Barrows said she thinks the CAO is a technical issue, rather than a political one.

On Winslow Tomorrow: Barrows said Winslow Tomorrow was a “beautiful set of recommendations” that was “hijacked” from the community by the city.

On the city’s capital needs: Barrows listed public transportation – along with satellite parking for Winslow employees – bike paths and open space as her top capital priorities.

“What we need is sustainable leadership that is able to look at the whole and the future and make decisions that are truly sustainable,” she said.

South Ward

Curtis Winston

Bottom line: Winston, a retired federal transportation manager, said his legislative experience – including three terms on a school board in New Jersey and work in that state’s Legislature – sets him apart from the other candidates. His top priority is improving council relations. He also said the city should focus on basic services, like water and waste management, instead of “grandiose” projects, like a downtown parking garage. Along with voicing concern over city spending, Winston said there are too many advisory committees slowing progress at City Hall.

On the city’s capital needs: Winston’s top capital priorities are potable water and better waste disposal.

Regarding projects in Winslow, Winston stressed simplicity.

“We don’t need all this la dee da stuff because we can’t afford it,” he said.

On the island’s economy: Winston said he sees Bainbridge Island as a bedroom community for Seattle. The economy in Winslow, he said, is mostly based around service businesses, which he seees as favorable.

On a downtown parking garage: “I’m totally against a parking garage unless the property owners who are going to benefit from it pay for it.”

On affordable housing: Winston, whose daughter is a teacher facing affordable housing woes, thinks local governments should pursue affordable lease programs, but not affordable home ownership programs.

“I don’t think it’s the government’s job to pay for affordable housing,” he said. “If you don’t have enough money to buy, you’re a renter.”

On island growth: Winston said a great deal hinges on the island’s available water resources. As long as the infrastructure can handle it, he thinks the city should consider shifting at least some growth to outlying areas.

“I think maybe we’re stuffing too much into Winslow,” he said.

Kim Brackett

Bottom line: Brackett is a former farming advocate, paralegal, environmental consultant and transportation manager. She has a three-pronged platform that focuses on environmental policy, fiscal responsibility and management philosophy.

Brackett’s other priorities include island watersheds, open space, affordable housing, business and a new senior center. She stressed the need for transparency and accountability and said most island issues are intertwined.

“We need to get our finances under control,” she said. “We need to ensure that we’re legally compliant, we need to ensure we’re fiscally responsible and we need to ensure we’re meeting the priorities that our community would like us to.”

On the city’s capital needs: Brackett said failing sewers, underground utilities and sidewalks all need to be repaired, and that those projects are the most affordable.

On the island’s economy: Brackett said she has a “different vision” for Winslow than Winston. The key to a healthy downtown, she said, is balance.

“I’d like to see a downtown that’s liveable and not just a place to visit,” she said, adding that Winslow should retain its core businesses.

On a downtown parking garage: Brackett said she isn’t sure the city can afford a garage, and would like to explore the idea of satellite parking for downtown employees.

On affordable housing: Brackett favors Community Land Trusts.

On island growth: Having worked on the state’s Growth Management Act earlier in her career, Brackett said she supports the document. Like her opponents, she emphasized the need to take stock of the island’s water resources when determining how to handle growth.

“We’re not even sure how much water we have,” she said. “The fact that people are taking saltwater showers is not a good thing.”

Robert Dashiell

Bottom line: Dashiell, a retired 24-year Navy officer, said fiscal responsibility, affordable housing and basic services, like roads, are his top priorities. He also favors slower growth.

“We have a city now that hasn’t seen a growth proposal they didn’t like,” he said.

He plans to run his entire campaign without fundraising, to avoid the perception that any future decisions he might make as a councilor would be “influenced by money.”

Dashiell has three business degrees, has done eight Harvard case studies on businesses and has worked with the University of Washington’s executive management course.

On the city’s capital needs: Dashiell said his top priority is improving the infrastructure on Winslow Way. He also listed a new senior center and better sewage disposal as major needs.

On the island’s economy: Most important to the economy, Dashiell said, is the outcome of Winslow Tomorrow. He thinks the city’s Planning Commission – which currently is reviewing proposed changes associated with the long-range planning effort – ultimately will scale the plan back. “I like Winslow the way it is,” he said. “I don’t think it’s in danger of becoming a ghost town.”

On a downtown parking garage: Dashiell thinks a parking garage will cost too much money, and prefers the idea of satellite parking.

On affordable housing: Dashiell said he wants affordable housing efforts to become more clear, focused and realistic.

On island growth: Though he supports the GMA, Dashiell believes it “works against us here on Bainbridge” because of the island’s finite natural resources. He said growth should be concentrated in Winslow. Density should only occur where infrastructure can support it, he said. Potable water is important, he said, as is examining local septic systems.

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