Familiar faces, signs in Kitsap board race

The Chris Endresen and Scott Henden signs that speckle the shoulders of local roadways are a familiar sight to residents.

The two candidates battling for the north-end seat on the Kitsap County Commission first dug in four years ago, when incumbent Endresen earned 53 percent to hold the seat for a second term against challenger Henden.

Last time, the primary issues were property taxes and the Endangered Species Act. This year, they are housing, budgets and parks. The only matter both candidates seem to agree on is there is very little affordable housing in Kitsap, but each has different ideas on how to change that.

Endresen – currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Washington, while serving on the county commission – said the county is revising zoning codes, installing infrastructure like the Kingston sewer plant, and implementing sub-area plans that allow for the creation of smaller lots.

“It will be more affordable for someone to come in and do subdivisions,” Endresen said, citing the Kingston Meadows project as a good example of affordable housing, and North Kitsap’s Arborwood as offering a good mix of housing opportunities.

“I think there needs to be a mix of housing,” she said. “It’s just a matter of infrastructure.”

Henden – a North Kitsap electrician – believes communities that do not have urban growth plans yet – including Keyport and Suquamish – should be looked at more closely for growth, because they already have sewer and water. While Henden gives the county credit for improving the permitting process, he said it can be much better.

“I think we should do something like guaranteed permitting,” he said. “If we don’t get it out just like a business, then there is a penalty for the county.”

He also said the county has too many “division rules,” which make it more difficult for residents to divide existing lots.

“What we’ve done is eliminate the option of creating lots in areas where we could get more out of them,” he said.

With development comes impact fees, about which the candidates have opposing views.

Henden is a firm believer that these fees should not be paid for by the builders, but should be passed on to homeowners through increased housing costs. Endresen counters that the fees are necessary to pay for growth-related infrastructure.

“I believe growth needs to pay for growth,” said Endresen, who has voted to retain the fees. Since a state tax isn’t going to pay for schools, roads and infrastructure, there must be a balance to help pay for development, she said.

One of the main focuses in Henden’s campaign has been to revamp the county budget.

“I think the county budget is the most important thing county commissioners can spend their time on,” he said. Hendon says he hasn’t been to any of the current budget meetings, but if elected, he will work on it diligently.

Said Endresen, “It’s a matter of trying to pick priorities...and being as accurate on the revenue without overstating,” she said. “I’ve never worked on a budget where we didn’t have enough money, or where we didn’t end the year with more than we thought.”

Henden also supports performance audits to better gauge the efficiency of county departments.

“It’s going to cost some money to do that,” Henden said. “But I think that in the long run, probably in the short run, the returns are going to be a lot more than what it cost to have somebody look at it.”

Endresen said the county currently has performance measures under the state auditor.

“I think performance audits can be a really good tool but if we’re going to have to choose between a deputy and a performance audit, I’m going to take the deputy,” she said.

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