Vancil, Hytopoulos, Lester big winners in primaries

The field of nine City Council candidates is down to six.

Debbie Vancil and Bob Scales are on their way to the general election in the North Ward. Kirsten Hytopoulos and Tim Jacobsen will vie for the South Ward, and Debbi Lester and Dee DuMont will battle for the Central Ward.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the South Ward was the closest of the three races with Hytopoulos getting 866 votes or 39.38 percent. Behind her was long-time accountant Tim Jacobsen, who garnered 33.92 percent, or 746 total votes. Curt Winston received 531 votes.

Hytopoulos plans to open up the public process. She said she will work to bring the public into policy planning earlier in the process.

Hytopoulos said each council hopeful recognizes several key issues the city faces.

"I think all the candidates understand that we have serious financial issues to resolve and serious infrastructure issues to resolve," she said.

The defining factors of the election will be the kind of public process candidates lobby for and how the policy fits with their overall view of the island's function and appearance, Hytopoulos said.

Throughout the campaign Hytopoulos pursued policy within the framework of maintaining the island's "rural character."

Jacobsen is encouraged by his showing in the face of Hytopoulos' greater name recognition. Though the race featured the smallest margin between candidates, he said by November the community will understand that the entrants represent clearly different approaches.

"I personally think what the council needs, facing the many challenges we have, is someone like me who has a track record of bringing people together and solving problems," he said. "They don't need more contention."

Hytopoulos also lobbied for better conciliation of the council.

To close the gap between himself and Hytopoulos, Jacobsen plans to make himself more available in the community between now and the general election. He wants the people to know his stance on the issues.

Both Jacobsen and Hytopoulos stated the importance of events such as the Aug. 10 League of Women Voters Forum, which will help the community understand the experiences and opinions that each candidate would bring to the council.

Vancil, seeking her third term on the council, had the highest percentage of votes with 40.38 percent and 768 total votes. Scales came in second with 600 votes, good for 31.55 percent of the tally.

Vancil said the results reinforced the community's desire to continue on the path of government reconstruction.

"The large point spread was due to the issues of trust and confidence, and I've worked really hard at bringing truth to City Hall by being straightforward and honest," she said.

Vancil said she didn't assume victory in the primary, and she will now begin planning her campaign for the general election. She also wanted to wait and see who her opponent would be before starting her city-wide campaign.

Vancil plans to engage a variety of groups and people with views on all sides of the political spectrum to work for solutions to the city's problems.

Scales recognized the need to gain ground against the incumbent. He plans to close the gap by being as specific as possible as to his plans.

At this point in the process, Scales listed two main priorities he would pursue if elected. The first would be to conduct a national search for the city manager position. Scales said he has nothing against current manager Mark Dombroski, but he doesn't understand why the council didn't immediately authorize a search.

"At the first council meeting in 2010, I would make a motion to begin a search process," Scales said.

His second priority is to cut spending, a process he would begin by slashing $1 million from the management side. He said the city can survive without positions such as a deputy police chief, performance manager and mid-level planning directors, but it can't survive the way things are going financially.

"We're not going to improve efficiency or create organizational change the way things are," he said.

Political newcomer Melanie Keenan wasn't far behind the current and former councilors, gaining just over 26.5 percent of the vote, or 504 votes.

Lester scored the most votes in the Central Ward, getting 788 votes, or 41.54 percent of the vote. Business owner DuMont finished second with 29.78 percent, or 565 votes. Seventy votes separated DuMont from former school administrator Virginia Paul.

Lester, who spent her evenings at the ferry terminal reminding people to vote this week, said her conversations have shown her the community's priorities.

"I'm getting a very, very clear direction as to what people are expecting from this new government," she said.

Lester prides herself on getting to know as many people as possible throughout this primary election. She said that will continue to be the focus of her campaign for the general election.

Throughout the campaign, Lester has pointed to maintaining affordable ferry fares as one of her campaign priorities.

"The ferries impact everything," she said.

DuMont is happy to move through the primary, and she thinks her support will grow as the election season progresses.

"I feel strongly that I have a very broad base island-wide," she said.

DuMont believes her main supporters hail from places other than the Winslow area – the main population center in the Central Ward.

DuMont made it clear that she doesn't have just one issue or group of people in mind to serve.

"I don't belong to multiple groups and organizations that have an agenda, and that puts me in a position to represent everyone on the island," she said.

Less than three hours before the 8 p.m. deadline, a steady stream of islanders made their way to the senior center to drop off their ballots in person.

"There's a certain number of people who don't think they've voted until they've dropped it in a box," said election official Jim Rohrscheib, who spent his afternoon watching a blue plastic crate marked "ballots."

According to the Kitsap County Elections office 576 ballots were dropped in that box Tuesday. That was pretty close to Rohrscheib's prediction of between 600 and 700.

He said during the presidential election in November, voters filled at least three of those boxes on election day.

In the Nov. 3 general election, everyone may vote for one candidate from each ward.

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