BREMERTON — A crowded field is emerging in the race to represent Central Kitsap on the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners following the decision by two-term incumbent Republican Ed Wolfe to withdraw his name from contention.
Four candidates — three Republicans and one Democrat — have already declared their intention to run to the state's Public Disclosure Commission. But it will become official starting Monday as candidates file with the Kitsap County Auditor's Office during filing week, which lasts through Friday. The position pays $146,500 per year.
Wolfe, 75, had planned to run but said he had a change of heart. He loved the job but admitted there were frustrating aspects. That, coupled with a new grandchild, spurred him to bow out of the race.
"It's with mixed emotions, but my wife Wendy (Miles) and I decided it's time for a refresh, time to hit the reset button," he said. "I think it's time for another person to be at the helm."
The four that have filed with the PDC to seek his office are: Democrat Katie Walters, executive director of the Leadership Kitsap Foundation; Republican Josh Hinman, executive director and chief of staff of Newlife Church; Republican Axel Strakeljahn, Port of Bremerton commissioner; and Republican Jeff Wallis, Kitsap County Coroner.
Wolfe, a lawyer, defeated Linda Streissguth to win office for the first time in 2014, a conservative wave that year that included Republican Tina Robinson unseating longtime county prosecutor Russ Hauge. Wolfe vowed to "bring balance back" to the county commissioners. He ran unopposed in 2018 for his second term.
Wolfe said the decision not to run was "bittersweet" and called the job his favorite in a career that included a stint at the U.S. State Department during the Reagan administration.
Wolfe said he had grown increasingly frustrated with people camping in public parks, including Veterans Park in Port Orchard and Old Mill Park in Silverdale.
"There's not a morning that goes by where I don't get five or six messages from families saying, 'I can't take my kids or my grandkids to Old Mill,'" he said. "We need our parks to be safe."
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Ed Wolfe's retirement creates race for new Central Kitsap commissioner