Bainbridge-area Dems should breeze through election

It’s one of those odd elections where none of the state offices are very competitive. Case in point. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) showed disdain for Larry Cooney (R-Poulsbo), her opponent for the 23rd Legislative District Posiotion 1 seat, by rolling her eyes when he was introduced with some fanfare for his attire at a recent candidate’s forum on Bainbridge Island.

She may not have meant it as an insult, but she obviously isn’t taking him very seriously.

Cooney was wearing an orange T-shirt over his dress shirt with the phrase “Are you sick of it?”, referring to the fact he’s tired of sending the same people back to Olympia election after election. He wants to help small businesses by rewarding them, not over-regulating them. As executive director of the Bread of Life Mission, he’s obviously well-intended. But his campaign has been run on a shoestring and he doesn’t have a chance against Appleton.

The former Poulsbo City Council member is seeking a third term in Olympia, where she has worked for several years as a lobbyist. She’s well-connected, well-informed and has a down-home feel about her. She’s passionate about education, ferries and environmental issues. She also has a lot of energy and isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers if she feels strong about a specific issue. She’s a converted Republican, but she has no trouble reaching out to Democrats on the island.

In a word, she’s a force, and deserves to be reelected.

The same can be said for Christine Rolfes, a Bainbridge Island Democrat who is seeking reelection for Position 2 of the 23rd Legistlative District. Her opponent is Mark Lowe (R–Bremerton), a retiree from the U.S. Navy whose concerns about his favorite issues – energy, jobs, education and health care – aren’t that different than those held by Rolfes. He may do better a second time out if he picks a different opponent, because he’s way out of his league running against Rolfes.

Sometimes when you look at Rolfes it’s not a stretch to see her running for governor or a national office some day. She is bright, articulate, appears comfortable as a politician, dedicated to her causes and knowledgable about public policy issues. She is adamant about protecting state financing for education and island ferry commuters. No doubt she’s a star on the rise.

Perhaps the most interesting of the 23rd Legislative races is the decision by Connie Lord (R-Poulsbo) to challenge Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) for the Senate seat. Lord is a nine-year veteran of the Poulsbo City Council and the city’s deputy mayor, She has taken a negative approach against Rockefeller, criticizing his voting record and his stance on environmental issues, specifically those involving climate change. She thinks a state senator should pay more attention to basic services and to trimming a bloated state budget.

Rockefeller should be elected to a second term to carry on his work with environmental issues, including his push for a stronger economy through green jobs. As a member of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committe, he wants to be influential in shaping a balanced state budget. Is he vulnerable? Probably not now, but a strong showing by Lord could give county Republicans hope for the future.

And on the national level, Rep. Jay Inslee shouldn’t have any trouble defeating Larry Ishmael for a second time. The island Democrat showed guts recently by breaking with his party to vote against an initial financial bailout package for Wall Street.

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