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Tooloee, Kubiak advance to general ballot

With the apparent backing of much of the island’s political establishment, newcomer Nezam Tooloee stormed to a substantial victory in the primary race to fill the island’s at-large City Council seat.

With virtually all ballots counted in the mail-in election, Tooloee had 3,501 votes, or 57 percent.

He will face former Association of Bainbridge Communities president Arnie Kubiak in the November election.

Kubiak tallied 2,058 votes, or 33.5 percent.

The third hopeful, island newcomer Larry Johnson, pulled 399 votes, or 6.5 percent. Retired television producer Christopher “Kit” Spier, who withdrew and threw his support to Tooloee too late to have his name removed from the ballot, took 143 votes, while 47 islanders cast write-in votes.

Tooloee was out of town following the election and could not be reached for comment. Kubiak and others could not be reached Friday.

Supporters of both candidates agreed that Kubiak now faces an uphill battle.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” said Bob Burkholder, an active Kubiak supporter. “Arnie doesn’t come across as effectively in a public forum. Nezam will be really tough to beat.”

Former mayor Dwight Sutton, who endorsed Tooloee and called his showing a “pleasant surprise,” said efforts to create a development vs. environment polarity may be wearing thin with the voters.

“This result may be a backlash against some recent actions of the council that some people thought were too narrowly focused,” Sutton said. “But I think people may want less of the development vs. environment argument, and think a compatible approach makes more sense and produces less contentiousness.”

Tooloee, a management consultant, received active support from Sutton, former council members Annette Stollman and Elizabeth Murray, and outgoing councilman Norm Wooldridge, among others.

He campaigned on a platform of “balance,” and criticized what he labeled excessive and counter-productive regulations.

Kubiak, an industrial fire-sprinkler crew chief, drew support from environmental activists. He also campaigned on his record of community involvement and willingness to listen to all sides of an issue.

County Auditor Karen Flynn said history would seem to favor Tooloee in the general election, which “tend to track primary results very well.”

“When you have many candidates in the primary, it can be hard to tell how their votes will divide in the general election, but people tend not to lose the votes they got in the primary.”

In 2001, Challenger Deborah Vann narrowly beat incumbent Jim Llewellyn in the primary, then won the general election by a significantly greater margin.

Also that year, Bill Knobloch won the primary by a wide margin over Bill Nelson, and while Nelson narrowed the gap through an extensive media campaign, Knobloch won comfortably.

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At present, four candidate forums are scheduled for October.

On Oct. 14, the League of Women Voters, the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and the Bainbridge Island Review will sponsor a forum for City Council and fire board candidates. Nancy Quitslund from LWV will moderate.

While details have not been finalized, Chamber Executive Director Kevin Dwyer said the forum will be in the council chambers, and will begin at 7 p.m.

The Chamber will host candidates for park and school boards, and speakers for and against the Kitsap County passenger-ferry tax measure, at its October

luncheon meeting beginning at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18 at Bistro Pleasant Beach.

On Oct. 13 and 20, the group Bainbridge Concerned Citizens says it too will sponsor candidate forums at City Hall. Each forum is to begin at 6:30 p.m. with a one-hour debate between Arnie Kubiak and Nezam Tooloee, candidates for the at-large City Council seat. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., unopposed council candidates Christine Nasser Rolfes and Bob Scales will address the audience and respond to questions. Then from 8 to 9 p.m., southwest ward candidates Michael Pollock and Jim Llewellyn will face off. No moderator has yet been selected.

A BCC representative says the group has asked the Association of Bainbridge Communities to co-sponsor those debates.

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