Gray, Sivitz and Cencom deserve votes

If the number of candidates is any indication, the most sought-after elective position on Bainbridge is the fire commission seat that Alan Corner is vacating after two six-year terms. The race drew a total of four hopefuls.

The two finalists standing after the primary election, Scott Gray and Jim Johnson, both display a sincere interest in the department, as evidenced by their service as volunteers. And we are impressed by the vigor with which Johnson has campaigned for the job.

We believe that Scott Gray, a career firefighter and lieutenant with the Seattle department, is a far more qualified and impressive candidate.

Both during our interviews with the candidates and at the League of Women Voters candidate forum earlier this week, Gray displayed specific, detailed knowledge of the issues facing the Bainbridge department. While Johnson demonstrated a desire to serve, he showed far less specific awareness of what the job entails.

Then there is the potential conflict of interest. One of the major issues confronting the fire commission is an initial contract for the career firefighters and clerical staff, one of whom is Johnson’s wife. While we don’t question the candidate’s personal integrity, we think any blurring of lines between labor and management is problematic at best.

The Review endorses Scott Gray as fire commissioner.

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We think the Bainbridge School Board is best served by a candidate with a broad view of the district’s needs. Incumbent Susan Sivitz satisfies that requirement, and we give her our endorsement for a second term on the board.

As a long-time volunteer who was active with local parent-teacher organizations, Sivitz knows what happens in a classroom, and represents that perspective to the board. She understands the intricacies of school financing, and has shown herself capable of providing checks on the district administration, one of the board’s primary functions.

Challenger Peter Harris has become involved in district affairs more recently, largely over dissatisfaction with special education programs. We find some of his views intriguing; at the same time, we believe parents and voters will be better served by four more years of representation by Sivitz.

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Also on Nov. 6, Kitsap County voters will be asked to approve a $10.5 million bond issue to replace the cramped, outdated Central Communications facility in Bremerton (better known as Cencom).

If there’s a no-brainer on the ballot, this is it, and the Review urges a “Yes” vote on the Cencom bond issue.

Nothing is more essential than efficient dispatch of police, fire and aid crews in emergencies, and that is what Cencom provides.

There is no organized opposition to the measure. The only caveat we have heard comes from our own fire deparment, to the effect that replacing a facility is a good start, but that attention needs to be paid also to proper staffing and operational improvements.

If there is one bit of good to come out of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it is a renewed realization on behalf of some folks that government is not always the enemy – especially in an emergency. We need to give our emergency response agencies the tools they need to come to our aid.

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