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Don't forget to file for public office

"Thinking about running for public office on Bainbridge Island? Then get out your checkbook and get ready to drive south. The official filing week runs 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 23-27 at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard. You can file by mail, but there's a catch (more on that in a moment). And with one exception, it won't cost you much to throw your hat into the ring. Filing fees are 1 percent of whatever stipend the office pays per year - $450 for mayor, $49.44 for city council and nothing for other offices (where the service, presumably, is its own reward).What's open? Plenty.Mayor - Only two candidates have announced their intent to take the reins of city hall. Surprising, since the last two races generated 11 candidates for that office. We suspect others will come out of the woodwork and surprise us all, making for a spirited campaign season.City council - Three seats are up for grabs, one in the north ward (open) and two in the central ward (one open, one with an incumbent seeking re-election). Mayor may sound sexier, but this is where the real power is - you can put your mark on everything from land-use ordinances to traffic revisions. Where to put the next traffic signal - or roundabout even - could come down to your vote.School board - Two seats are up (one open, one with an incumbent), for stewardship of local public education.Fire board - One seat (open) - set policy and plan capital spending for the island's volunteer brigade.Park board - This board, which oversees the island's many parks and recreation programs, could see dramatic turnover, with four seats up (one open, two with incumbents seeking re-election, one undecided).And so you know: All races require filing of a declaration of candidacy -- a simple one-page form. Candidates must be registered voters at the time they file, and their voting residence determines their residency for candidacy purposes.The elections department will fax declarations to candidates. Call the department at its Bainbridge number, 842-2061.The form must be filed, with the fee (if applicable) paid by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 27. The form and fee can be mailed, but it must be in the auditor's office by 4:30 p.m. on Friday -- this isn't your tax return, and the postmark doesn't count.A candidate can have the form carried in by someone else, but in that case, the signature must be notarized.And, for those inclined to wait until the last minute to see what others are running for and which offices fail to draw interest, you can check the Kitsap County Elections Office website - www.kitsapgov.com - which will update filings at 4 p.m. each day.For more information, you can call the county elections office at 842-2061.What are you waiting for? Now's your chance to prove you can do a better job than the folks you write all those nasty letters about. "

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