Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, September 06, 2010

Politics, Blackberries, and the Turner Joy

What does the GOP, blackberries, and the historic USS Turner Joy (DD-951) have in common? The answer, of course, is the annual Bremerton Blackberry Festival. While Dino Rossi corralled western Washington, and James Watkins reveled in “Evergreen” Monroe this weekend, conservative political candidates west of Seattle met shoulder to shoulder in Kitsap County at the annual Blackberry Festival, hosted by the Bremerton Main Stream Association at the waterfront park in Bremerton, Washington. It was perfect weather for the event, and I had the opportunity to chat with a few of the political hopefuls, like Pete DeBoer and James Olsen for Washington Legislative District 23, who told me their alternate message to current high spending by government and increased taxes in the State continues to remain well received. As good fortune would have it, I was also able to spend time with another political newcomer, Abby Burlingame for Kitsap County Commissioner, who agreed on the fly to give me a few moments edgewise. I first met Abby Burlingame at a Silverdale Tea Party event in mid-August and was impressed with her then. The conversation I had with her this Sunday was just as encouraging.

Abby Burlingame’s passion running for office is a familiar conservative theme during these tough economic times: financial responsibility, more responsive services and more jobs. With regards to budget, Burlingame is particularly concerned about how the current Commission is managing shortfalls with across the board budget cuts of 7-9%. She wants to distinguish required services from those that are not, pointing to “pink slips” hitting the Sheriff’s Office that will result in unusually low levels of patrol staffing for a county of Kitsap’s size and population. Burlingame strongly believes Kitsap should be tackling a zero based budget process that clearly prioritizes essential and non-essential services, something she does not believe incumbent Josh Brown is ready or perhaps even qualified to do. In consideration of the services Kitsap County can perform, and taking care "to not over simplify, the County has a customer service problem” that she wants to address, suggesting some services and processes are so burdensome there are those who wish to be annexed to other jurisdictions “just to get away from the county.” She also believes Kitsap County has become over reliant on federal resources like the Bremerton Naval Shipyard for tax revenues, suggesting the Department of Community Development is either unable or unwilling to diversify. Burlingame said, “The County has its priorities out of whack” and some businesses have pulled investment out. Without new business and a diverse tax base, there won’t be new tax revenue to pay for environmental initiatives or other services. “You get new money by generating economic growth first.” Burlingame doesn't think Josh Brown has the right approach to getting this done.

In the challenging times we live in, a rocky economy and the highest unemployment rate I can recall in my working life, it is inspiring to see our civil democracy at work. Abby Burlingame, Pete DeBoer, and James Olsen each advocate strong conservative principles that focus on government fiscal responsibility, accountability, and service innovation. I am reassured that in the shelter of the USS Turner Joy, the busy and animated crowd at the Blackberry Festival can still speak volumes for American resilience and optimism. Be energized and vote.

November is coming.

by Johnny Walker - KingstonJW on twitter

Photos: top left, USS Turner Joy shelters Bremerton's harbor, location of Blackberry Festival; center left, Abby Burlingame poses at the Republican Party booth.

1 comment:

James M. Olsen said...

I have had 3 recent campaign occasions to work alongside Ms. Abby the past few weeks. She and I worked side-by-side at Silverdale Whaling Day event at the KCRP booth, at the Kitsap County Fair and yesterday at the Bremerton Blackberry Festival. What struck me was her deep commitment to serving the people of Kitsap County. She always was there with a gracious smile and thoughtful answer to the folks who stopped by the booth. A little detail was her giving out bottles of campaign water to those passing by, irrespective of whether they would be a vote.

The other aspect that struck me was the sheer number of political campaign signs she has around the county. Her Democrat opponent has signs out -- albeit smaller signs -- but in no where the same numbers. I do subscribe to the adage you can see how a candidate will govern by how they wage their campaign. Ms. Abby is a tough fighter and will be a tenacious Kitsap County Commissioner based on how she is running now.

James M. Olsen
Washington State Representative Candidate, 23rd LD, Position 2