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Appointed Kitsap treasurer will face primary challenge
Kitsap County Democrats selected a political novice Monday night as the top choice to replace Treasurer Barbara Stephenson, who resigned in February to become Bremerton's financial director.
The party submitted three names to the county commissioners. Private candidate meetings are now being scheduled, with the selection scheduled to be announced at the regular March 22 commissioners’ meeting.
The finalist will fill Stephenson's unexpired term, but will be required to win both the primary and general elections to earn a term in their own right.
On Tuesday, former Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Interim Director Debbie Broughton confirmed that she intends to run for the position in the primary, as a Democrat.
In a vote of 65 precinct committee officers, Poulsbo CPA Meredith Green bested Former Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade and Bremerton resident Isaac Delgado in the vote tally.
Former legislative and Bremerton Mayoral candidate Daryl Daugs was eliminated from the running.
"I am the most qualified candidate for this position," Green said. "I have the administrative and financial experience to make a good treasurer. My only weakness is that I have never been elected to anything, but that is also a strength because I don't have any baggage."
Since Stephenson was elected as a Democrat, it is up to the party's precinct committee officers to select three candidates for consideration by the commissioners. Sixty five PCOs voted in three ballots, picking candidates for the first, second and third positions.
Quade, who was defeated in her November bid for re-election, said she was running for the post because she had more to contribute and did not want her public service career to end. She said her high name recognition and past experience with all members of county government would be an advantage, both as treasurer and in this year's campaign for re-election.
Quade, who has only lost one election, said that her campaign experience would be an asset.
“I have never worked at a bank,” Quade said. "But I can supervise a team and get things done."
But several PCOs supported Green because of her experience.
"I support Meredith Green because it is crucial that we get someone in there with strong financial credentials," said Claire Fox of Port Orchard.
Green was also Stephenson's first choice, and received an endorsement from former Treasurer Sharon Shrader. And Green received campaign advice from newly-elected Port of Bremerton Commissioner Roger Zabinski, who helped to design her campaign flyer.
Delgado said that his work developing diagnostic financial software prepared him for the treasurer's job.
"I have a strong understanding about how finance works and I am ready to take a leadership position," Delgado said.
All of the candidates said they had collaborative abilities as well as management talent.
Broughton, who is now in Mexico, intends to return to Kitsap in late March at which time she expects to begin her campaign.
Broughton said she bypassed the PCO selection, because she is an outsider and therefore would not prevail in the process.
“I had already scheduled this trip and did not want to change my plans,” she said. “I wanted to run independently and did not want to be beholden to anyone. Independents do not get selected by these committees.”
Broughton had not heard of Green’s selection, and said she was “proud of the party for making that decision.”
Nevertheless, she plans to run a campaign based on her record, which includes working as Kitsap County director of administrative services for ten years and chief financial officer for Seattle Public Utilities.
Broughton previously participated in the PCO selection process when she applied for the Kitsap County Auditor’s position, but was passed over in favor of current Auditor Walt Washington.
Green acknowledged her lack of political experience, saying "part of what one does with a disadvantage like that is to acknowledge it and attempt to overcome it."
Daugs took a similar action, acknowledging past difficulties with the Public Disclosure Commission while maintaining that any allegations of impropriety were false.
"I had to fire my legislative campaign manager," Daugs said. "I did not fire him because he went through my daughter's private things or because he kicked my dog. I fired him for cause, because he falsified data."
Many delegates expressed surprise at Daugs' assertions, as the accusations were not known to them.
Daugs said later that he was delighted with Green's selection, saying she was "way more qualfied than the other candidates, Including myself."
A fifth candidate, Martha and Mary's director of fund development Rob Gelder, dropped out of the contest this weekend due to other commitments. After making this announcement he endorsed Quade.
Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Sandra LaCelle said she expects her party to field candidates for all major county offices this year, but no candidates for the treasurer office have yet declared an intention to run.