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Curtis, Wooldridge won't seek re-election

An early glance at this year’s city election scene, with four council seats available, produces double vision.

Two veteran city council members whose second terms expire at the end of the year say they will not run for re-election. Two former council members say they’re likely to take another shot, particularly if those who are calling it quits stick with those plans. And two first-term council members say they’re not sure whether they will try to keep their seats.

Councilwoman Lois Curtis says she’s ready to retire from public office after stints on the Bainbridge Planning Commission and school board as well as the council.

“I’ll be 70 this year, and it’s time for me to find another career,” said the long-time civic activist, who has represented the island’s south ward since 1995.

Curtis did not draw an opponent in either 1995 or 1999. In 1993, she received 42 percent of the vote for a two-year south-ward term despite withdrawing from the race, her withdrawal coming too late to have her name removed from the ballot.

The north ward’s two-term representative, Norm Wooldridge, also said he’s calling it a career.

“I’m satisfied that there will be outstanding people running for the north ward seat, and I think it’s time for me to move on,” Wooldridge said, adding that it would give him “more freedom to perhaps be involved in some of the other races.”

One of the leaders in the movement toward all-island government, Wooldridge won a 54-vote nail-biter in 1995 against John Adams. He won a second term in 1999 when his name appeared alone on the ballot, although he faced a spirited write-in campaign from John Eremic.

Two former council members interested in getting back into the arena are Jim Llewellyn and Annette Stollman.

Home- and boatbuilder Llewellyn was elected from the central ward in 1997, handily beating environmental activist Sheila Crofut. Llewellyn had made two earlier attempts at a council seat.

He lost in 2001 to political newcomer Deborah Vann, who charged that the incumbent was too cozy with development interests. The race was complicated by the fact that Llewellyn’s then-wife Christine was running for mayor at the same time, giving rise to charges of conflict of interest. The couple has since divorced.

The other former council member ready to take another swipe at the pinata is Annette Stollman, who served one two-year and one four-year term representing the north ward under her former name of Annette Lancy.

“I’ve taken a vacation, and I’m ready to get back in there,” Stollman said.

She said, though, that she would not challenge Wooldridge if he decided to run again.

When the council was expanded to seven members in 1991 after all-island incorporation, Stollman comfortably won a two-year term over banker Ron Tweiten. She won a four-year term in 1993 against Sherri Watson, but lost to Liz Murray in 1997.

The two council members who are completing their first term say they haven’t made up their minds yet, although both hint they are leaning towards seeking a second term.

“I really don’t know yet,” said Christine Nasser Rolfes, who won her south-end seat in a landslide over innkeeper Ron Gibbs in 1997. “I really enjoy it, but it’s very time-intensive.”

Rolfes, who has two young children, said one factor may be whether she draws an opponent. That is because campaigning could be even more time-consuming than the council job itself.

“I had to quit my job to campaign last time,” she said.

Michael Pollock, who defeated community activist Jeff Moore in 1997, said he would need to take some time away from both city government and his profession as a government fisheries scientist to make up his mind.

“The fact is that I have a career,” Pollock said. “I like doing this (council) as a hobby because it’s important to provide public service.”

Pollock said he goes back and forth on the question of running again, but admits that a second campaign is his “default” position.

The reapportionment undertaken last year to equalize the population of the island’s three wards affects several of the races.

Formerly, the island’s more densely populated central ward had a significantly larger population than the north or south ward, but also had three council seats, while the others had two.

Under city ordinances and state law, candidates must live in the wards they week to represent, and voting in a primary election is limited to voters in that ward. In the general election, voting on all seats is island-wide.

Because of questions about whether proportional rather than equal representation was legal, the populations were equalized by moving several Island Center and Battle Point precincts from the central to the south ward, among them the area north of Battle Point Park where Llewellyn lives.

Rolfes’ seat is affected because she volunteered to make her position a two-year term, so that after this year, the south ward seats will not both be up for election at the same time.

To correct a similar situation in the central ward, the seat Bill Knobloch occupies will be a two-year term in the 2005 election only. The reapportionment also resulted in one seat – the one occupied by Michael Pollock – as “at large,” meaning anyone on the island could challenge Pollock should he run for re-election.

No challenger has yet stepped forward. Former school board member, legislative candidate and Democratic Party activist David Harrison said he has received several calls asking him to consider running for the at-large seat, but said he is probably not going to do so.

“At some point I would like to work on the island,” said Harrison, a lecturer at the University of Washington, “but I don’t think this is the time to do it.”

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City Council candidates must file at the county auditor’s office during the last week in July, which this year means July 28 through Aug. 1. The filing fee is 1 percent of the annual salary, or $72, assuming the city’s salary commission does not change the salary between now and the filing period.

Candidates filing for a seat assigned to a geographic ward must be residents of the ward at the time of filing, and must remain residents during their term of office. Any island resident may file for the at-large position.

The primary election will be held Sept.16, and the general election will be Nov. 4.

The county elections department will hold an information session for interested candidates from 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 5 at the Givens Center, 1026 Sidney Avenue, Port Orchard.

For further information, call the elections department of the auditor’s office, (360) 337-7128 or toll-free from Bainbridge Island, 842-2061.

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