Yes for parks; Alvarado for treasurer

We believe the time for rhetoric is long past.

At issue: a $4.92 million levy to fund Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District maintenance and operations for the years 2003-04. The levy would be collected once, next year.

A similar levy having failed earlier this year, the choice before voters on Sept. 17 is exactly this:

If you want Bainbridge Island parks and associated programs to be open on Jan. 1, 2003, vote “Yes.”

If you want them to be closed, vote “No,” or don’t vote.

We’re voting Yes, and we urge readers to do the same.

* * * * *

Alvarado for treasurer

In a more sensible world, the office of Kitsap County

treasurer would be neither elected nor partisan.

Fate has intervened somewhat – absent a Republican candidate, the current contest can be viewed as essentially non-partisan and will be decided in the Sept. 17 primary. But voters are still asked to decide a politicized race for what amounts to an administrative office.

Facing off to replace Sharon Shrader (retiring after 18 years as Kitsap’s chief financial officer) are Democrats Paulette Alvarado and Barbara Stephenson.

Alvarado touts her 25 years experience in municipal government finance as accounting manager for the city of Poulsbo. During that time, the office and Alvarado herself have earned plaudits for sound accounting and financial reports. She has received the endorsements of Washington State Treasurer Mike Murphy, several area municipal finance directors and Shrader herself.

Stephenson, a former Rainier Bank branch manager, comes to the race as executive director of United Way of Kitsap County. She cites her leadership and private-sector experience; her roster of endorsements includes county Assessor Jim Avery, and several Poulsbo elected officials.

Public finance is an arcane field, with its own accounting standards and practices, and specific certification requirements for practitioners. So we find ourselves swayed by the professional experience of Alvarado, who has immersed herself in the field for the past quarter-century.

To be sure, Stephenson has earned considerable goodwill around Kitsap County as United Way director and community volunteer. But her candidacy strikes us as a bit dilettantish; by her own account in a recent interview, she had no particular interest in local government until serving on a citizen freeholder board last year. Too, asked about the relative importance of prior experience in the government finance sphere, she deflected the query and proceeded to question the qualifications of her opponent.

We believe Alvarado’s endorsement by Shrader is compelling. Shrader comments that in the 14-person department (one likely to get still smaller with upcoming budget cuts), the treasurer’s post demands someone with hands-on experience rather than a “generalist” manager. We see considerable wisdom in that view; as we’ve said, the office is largely ministerial. As important as department leadership is the ability to actually do the department’s job.

For these reasons, we endorse Paulette Alvarado for the office of treasurer for Kitsap County.

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