sweatermikeMike Shepherd, the only candidate to challenge then-incumbent Mayor Cary Bozeman, was ringing doorbells and setting up his ubiquitous campaign sings around Bremerton months before Bozeman dropped out of the race and four other candidates jumped in. That he did not advance to the general election — nudged aside by Will Maupin and Patty Lent — was more than a surprise.

“We were shocked,” he says. “I mean really shocked by how that came down.”

He blames his loss largely on the fact that he and his supporters underestimated how much work would be needed to get out the vote. “I believe that there was some complacency.”

And after meeting with a group of supporters recently, he says he’s still not interested in endorsing Maupin or Lent.

“It really wasn’t about me, it was about an idea,” he says. “The supporters, the folks who really believed in this idea of changing direction, didn’t want to endorse either of these two candidates. They didn’t see a difference. They asked Deborah Jackson to think about carrying on the torch to make a difference in this town.”

Jackson is the executive of the local non-profit, Surviving Change, which, according to its web site, “is a program whose purpose is to assist individuals who come from families that have been identified as dysfunctional.”

Until Saturday, Jackson said she hadn’t even considered a run for mayor. But upon the encouragement from her friends and Shepherd supporters, and confirmation from her “higher power,” Jackson decided to make her campaign official on Tuesday.

“We weren’t left with a choice,” she says of Maupin and Lent. “And who’s going to speak for the people?”

Endorsing a write-in candidate entering the race six weeks before election day seems to contradict a comment Shepherd made during the primary campaign when he said of his competitors: “If somebody was serious about doing something, you’d think they’d do some preparations.”

Shepherd sees no contradiction, and says “She didn’t just show up last weekend. She’s been associated with the youth and working with the young people in this town for a long time. So, she’s not unprepared.”

We will post more from our conversation with Ms. Jackson soon.

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