Kitsap County courthouse sees a changing of the guard

Patty Lent is preparing to take her seat next month.

Christopher Dunagan
Bremerton Sun Staff

December 21, 2002

Kitsap County Commissioner-elect Patty Lent is meeting county employees, attending commissioner study sessions and boning up on the county code book.
"I can guarantee there are going to be some changes," she said, "but the changes have to come methodically. I have to be certain before I initiate a change. I can't do that in my first 30 days in office."

Lent said she is impressed with the quality of county employees and looks forward to working with them to improve efficiency.

Lent, a former travel consultant, is a Republican. Her election creates the first Republican majority on the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners since 1968.

She said she might team up at times with fellow Republican Commissioner Jan Angel.

"We're both conservative and thinking about the rights of citizens," she said, "but I don't see disagreeing with Chris (Endresen) either. If it's good for the county, I will be in favor of it."

Endresen, a Democrat, is the most senior on the three-member board.

Lent said all three of the women have different "styles," and she expects that political labels won't make much difference.

"I'm hoping the three of us will complement each other," she said.

Lent said she expects to disagree with both Endresen and Angel on an upcoming vote on an ordinance requiring helmets for all bicycle riders.

"I am against putting an ordinance on the books that we can't enforce," she said.

Lent said she won't disband any of the groups created or fostered by Central Kitsap Commissioner Tim Botkin, a Democrat whose office she will take over in January.

Even the Kitsap Smart Growth Coalition has its place as it works for responsible growth, she said. "But I do not want them to keep that name," she added.

Lent said she hopes to pick up where Botkin left off on youth programs sponsored by Kitsap County and other organizations.

Programs that keep teenagers out of trouble not only strengthen families, she said, but it could hold down costs for criminal justice.

"I would like to pick up that slack for whatever Tim had going," she said of his work with youth groups.

Lent said she is "very much in favor" of the new government center to be built in downtown Bremerton, but she needs assurance that the county -- which has been asked to guarantee bond payments -- will never have to "bail out" the project.

"I have not seen any figures whatsoever," she said, "but if they can't answer all the (financial) questions, then the building can't be built. It has to be feasible, and it has to be affordable."

During her recent political campaign, Lent said she would promote economic development. She has already touched base with officials at Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council.

"I told them I hoped to write some letters to businesses I have worked with outside the country," she said, referring to contacts she has in Japan and Europe.

Although Endresen currently sits on the EDC board, Lent said she would like to play a role in encouraging businesses to move to Kitsap County.

When Lent takes office Jan. 1, Kitsap will have the first all-female Board of Commissioners in state history.

"I think people are going to be watching the decisions we make," Lent said. "We need to be very wise in our decisions."

 

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