jacksonDeborah Jackson didn’t plan to run for mayor. She’d considered a run for a different elected office, but until she met with a few supporters of former mayoral candidate Mike Shepherd on Saturday, she hadn’t given a run any thought. But her friends and fellow supporters encouraged her to run. So she thought about it. She consulted her “higher power.” And on Tuesday, the executive of the non-profit Surviving Change made her write-in campaign for mayor of Bremerton official. (Read Mike Shepherd’s comments here.) Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

Why did you decide to run for mayor?

I felt like the people weren’t left with a choice. Everybody comes and talks about the committees that they sit on and all the stuff that they’ve done. And then I looked at what did they support? One of the candidates, they used the HUD money to build that, you know, the condominiums, you know what I’m saying? Then it was a hidden agenda for that.

We still got the homeless. We still got the people that didn’t have nowhere to take them to transitition them out of West Park to somewhere else, but then you took that money did that with it and then … welfare for the rich. You know what I’m saying?

There’s so much that I’m passionate about, I just feel the needs and the burdens and the cries. I weep for my community, you know what I’m saying? I advocate. I’m in the courts, I’m in the schools, I’m down in Olympia. I fight for my people. And people don’t listen to us, like we don’t matter, we don’t care, and we don’t have a voice, when we built Bremerton.

We got all these newcomers that came here, and like, we were supposed to be stupid and ignorant. And they come with their ideals and what they think we should have, when they left out what was our real needs. The beautification and the upgrade was fine, but we still should have left our downtown. But did they come and ask the people what they wanted? Instead of like dictating to us? And these people don’t know where they belong. And I want (the people) to feel like I feel now: Free. You have a voice, and you count and you matter, you understand what I’m saying?
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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.”
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photo(5)Between the time he was called to dinner and finally took his seat, Thursday evening, I had a chance to catch up with former Bremerton mayoral candidate Carlos Jara. He was reorganizing his office when I called, cleaning up what became ground zero for his long-shot campaign for mayor.

From the beginning Jara — the youngest, least politically experienced, and final candidate to enter the five-person primary campaign — knew he was the underdog. But at the end of the day, he brought in 12 percent of the vote, earned the endorsement (along with Will Maupin) of the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board, and impressed finalist Patty Lent enough for her to proclaim that he would make a fine candidate for small-business liaison.

Here’s what we talked about:

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“They’re not responsive to the needs of the community,” mayoral candidate and City Councilman Mike Shepherd says of Patty Lent and Will Maupin, his rivals who appear headed for November’s general election. “They’re both largely financed by developers and corporations and that’s just not who we are.”

With barely a handful of votes left to be counted, Shepherd doesn’t expect his 1,329 votes (23.8 percent) in the Aug. 18, primary election to catch up to former Kitsap County Commissioner Lent’s 1,474 (26.44 percent) or City Councilman Maupin’s 1,604 (28.77 percent). ”

While Shepherd says he’s not “Not a conceder … I can’t can’t imagine the numbers changing a whole lot.”

Shepherd, who was former mayor Cary Bozeman’s only competitor before Bozeman abruptly dropped out of the race and resigned from office to become the CEO of the Port of Bremerton, says he’s gonna take the next couple weeks off before moving onto his next project: opposing the $30 car tab proposal that voters will see on the November ballot. “That’s the way it is,” Shepherd said. “I’ll move on to the car tabs issue and working for the people that elected me (for city council).”

— Chris Kornelis

Mike Shepherd, addressing supporters mintues before the early returns came in.

Mike Shepherd, addressing supporters mintues before the early returns came in.

You could feel the oxygen get sucked out of the room when Mike Shepherd and about 30 supporters got the news just after 8:15 p.m. at Mad Moose Pizza.

“It’ll be alright,” he told the crowd as they noshed on pizza and sipped Moose Drool.

Shepherd, a city councilman who led the yard sign poll months before the other four candidates for mayor of Bremerton even entered the race, pulled in 23.98 percent of the votes in early returns tonight, enough to rank him third behind former Kitsap County commisioner Patty Lent, with 27.74 percent, and city councilman Will Maupin, with 28.57 pecent of the votes. Non-profit executive Daryl Daugs brought in 8 percent of the early votes, while local business owner Carlos Jara brought nearly 11 percent.

Though results in the close race will continue to be released later this week, “To me, it’s a victory,” Lent said in call from Brother Don’s, where she celebrated with friends and supporters. “From what the statistics are right now, I’m very confident.”

Lent says she plans to start doorbelling again on Wednesday. “If Will’s having a tough time making decisions on the budget, I want to see areas I can help improve that,” she said in reference to comments Maupin made at a budget meeting last month. “That’s a very important factor and we both need to be on top of our game.”

Maupin — who celebrated at home with his family and about 30 supporters — said he wasn’t surprised by tonight’s results and doesn’t expect them to change. “My real gut feeling ahead of time was that it was going to come out just the way it did,” he said in a call earlier tonight. Maupin said he plans to take a little bit of time off before getting his committe together and mapping out a strategy.

Shepherd, meanwhile, is not ready to give up hope.

“It’s amazing that it’s this close,” he said at Mad Moose. “100 votes might (make) the winner.”

Jara and Daugs have not yet returned calls for comment.

— Chris Kornelis

Note: During the primary campaign, Bremelog.com has focused its coverage on the mayor’s race. Look for coverage on the other races affecting Bremeton voters between now and November’s general election.

diddydddThere are only a few hours left to get your ballots in the mail before Tuesday’s primary election. Here’s a quick look at what Bremerton’s five candidates for mayor had to say about downtown. Click the candidate name to read the full conversation. Now don’t forget to vote!

Mike Shepherd: “You know, you get your basic structures, then you have to work on the people in the immediate area and start filling it in with families. So that it’s vigorous and there’s people around, then businesses will come and provide those things that the people want. The problem is though that the people that we expected to move here aren’t moving.”

Will Maupin: “Until the city of Bremerton becomes a vibrant urban center, Bremerton is always going to be seen as second class. And it will extend out to help everybody in the city. It will bring in more revenue, allow the city to provide more services, provide more money to do things outside the downtown core. But I would definitely not be as focused on just the downtown core as Bozeman has been.”

Patty Lent: “I thought that Cary had a good start. I thought he brought in some good changes. But I think that the rest of the city limits missed out on what he was accomplishing. And if you don’t have a new look you’re not going to attract new businesses or residents. He accomplished that. Now I want the rest of the city limits to take and have some of that success and some of that invigoration.”

Daryl Daugs: “One of the things that helps out with downtown is that it actually can become a destination …. and that doesn’t mean that people have to live there. The downtown area will be much better off when the condos are full. And when Ron Sher’s building has retail in it and residential is full.”

Carlos Jara: “The mayor, for all the good things he did in the community, you never really saw him in other businesses down here. How often would you come downtown and see him in Fritz? You sure saw him at Anthony’s. You sure would saw him at Starbucks. I don’t believe that. I would be in every business in the community, checking in on them. Because I’m part of that business community. The most important thing for me as mayor for me is checking in on them.”

It's OK, Mike, we all make mistakes with sweaters.

It's OK, Mike, I regret every one of my sweater purchases, too.

When Mike Shepherd and I sat down for poached eggs back in March, there was still snow the ground, he had just started putting up yard signs, and Cary Bozeman was the strong incumbent with one oppontent: City Councilman Mike Shepherd. As of yesterday, Shepherd says he has 800 signs in the ground, is facing four oppontents in Tuesday’s primary, and none of them are the former mayor of Bellevue. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation over pints of Mac & Jacks at the South Pacific:

It’s he end of the primary.

It’s pretty cool. I’m ready for this phase of it to be over and see what happens next.

You were the only challenger for Cary Bozeman. Do you feel like everybody else has crashed your party?

No. Not crashed the party. But if somebody was serious about doing something, you’d think they’d do some preparations. So, we’ll see how it goes. I mean, it certainly helped me personally to do this mid-year, mid-term sprint.

When you got into the race, it seemed like your message was as the anti-Bozeman candidate. When we first spoke you said that too much attention had been paid to downtown and the outlying areas had been neglected. Is that still your position?

Well, just to clarify, it was wasn’t just being anti-Bozeman. I’ve been involved in the whole design of this re-development since before the beginning. I was the one that pulled the plug on the old original downtown plan which was done in ’89. So I have this whole history of knowing what the plan really was and is.

There were components of the plan that included buildings, like the government center and the convention center, and the marina. At that point though, that kind of focus on construction and buildings always was to shift and move to the next circle out, which would be the people, really, the residential areas immediately around the downtown. Because that’s where the people are that will come to the downtown. Downtown won’t work if people won’t come, and don’t value what’s down there. We needed to make that shift, and we weren’t making it.
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