Deets, Fetterly advance in Bainbridge council race

Here’s one thing both candidates agree on: It’s a different race now.

Joe Deets emerged as the no-doubt leader in this week’s qualifier for the District 7 North Ward position on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

Deets pulled in 56.2 percent of the vote, well ahead of second-place finisher Kevin Fetterly, who trailed at 25.4 percent, in this week’s Primary Election.

The vote count stood at 819 votes for Deets, and 370 for Fetterly after the second tally of ballots late Wednesday.

Both candidates now advance to November’s General Election.

Deets, 60, a consultant for a solar energy firm who has lived on the island since 2000, said his good showing was largely due to familiarity and his great group of supporters.

“The help that I’m getting is so great to have — I’m very, very grateful,”

“This was just a primary; there’s a general election,” he quickly added.

His longtime residency, presence in the community and his work on clean energy and solar power projects on Bainbridge probably were reasons behind his big tally Tuesday, he said.

Doorbelling throughout his district in the primary has left him eager to talk to other islanders about the issues that are important to them, Deets added.

“I’m going to be working very hard, reaching out to voters. I want to talk to them, listen to them, hear what’s on their minds.”

Now the race moves from the North Ward’s eight precincts to an all-island vote, from South Beach to Agate Passage.

“It’s island-wide and it’s a whole other race,” Deets said.

Fetterly won’t argue that.

One reason is turnout.

Bainbridge’s showing on Tuesday is expected to struggle to hit 25 percent of registered voters, and probably won’t. And remember, only North Ward voters were eligible to cast ballots in the primary.

Fetterly noted November’s outcome will be determined by a wider and deeper swath of island voters.

“It’s a small sampling of the voters,” he said of Tuesday’s vote.

“I think in the general (election), we’re going to have everyone out and interested. I think that will move the needle,” he said.

The needle bounced, to be sure, on Election Day.

One candidate in the three-way Bainbridge council race didn’t want anyone’s vote at all, but ended up with 18.2 percent of all ballots cast.

That candidate would be J. Mack Pearl.

Pearl, 60, an architect, tried to bow out of the race earlier this year, but didn’t do so in time to have his name removed from the ballots. When he announced in his departure from the race, he asked islanders to stand behind Deets.

Even so, Pearl finished with 267 votes, according to the latest tally from the Kitsap County Elections Division. That left some wondering earlier this week if some voters weren’t aware that he had exited the race.

It’s not lost on Fetterly, 63, an electrical engineer who moved to the island 18 years ago. Add it up, he said, and just about 45 percent of voters didn’t vote for Deets, he noted.

Moving on, Fetterly said a top priority was improving his name recognition, and new money coming into the campaign will help.

He’ll continue to push his main issue, he said; moving the island to renewable power, but not through a purchase of Puget Sound Energy.

“I want to move the island to fully renewable power and we can do that in very pragmatic and very straightforward way.

Next on the list is bike paths and pedestrian walkways.

“I’m a little dismayed by the bridge over 305 and how much it costs,” he said of the next phase of the Sound to Olympics Trail, which includes a span for walkers and bikers over the highway just south of High School Road.

Putting that money toward roadside for pedestrians and bicyclists instead, he said, could get several miles’ worth of work done.