Commissioner Rob Gelder (second from right) was recently elected as Second Vice President for the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) at their annual conference in November. He has been a member of the Board and active with WSAC for 6 years, and is honored to take on a bigger role with the organization in 2018.
"Local government is where the rubber hits the road in the provision of services to the public. As a subdivision of the state, it's often counties that have to do the work of the state without being given the funding to do so. I see one of my roles as being an advocate for Kitsap and all 39 counties when it comes to asking the legislature to support good, sustainable, and common sense government." Said Rob Gelder.
WSAC is a non-profit association serving all of Washington's 39 counties, advocating for county issues in the legislature. Counties provide many services that cities and the state do not provide, including a huge proportion of law and justice programs. WSAC's legislative agenda for 2017 included advocating for reform to property tax caps, an update of the public records act and adequate funding of trial court for indigent defense services.
As Second Vice President, Commissioner Gelder will continue his role with the legislative steering committee for 2018, and will work closely with other counties on legislative advocacy.
Commissioner Gelder was on hand with City of Poulsbo officials and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (EMBA) to celebrate the grand opening of the Poulsbo Pump track on October 28. With Commissioner Gelder's leadership, Kitsap County transferred a seldom-used 1.8 acre park on Little Valley Road to the City of Poulsbo, in the hopes that it would benefit the community. The City then took proposals for development from interested organizations, and chose the pump track from several worthy applicants.
The track, which was built with volunteers and donations from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, allows riders to traverse the hills and turns with minimal pedaling, and is fun for all skill levels. At the grand opening, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson presented EMBA with a check for $11,415.50 – a return of their permit fees in recognition of the facility's public benefit. The Poulsbo Pump Track is located at the corner of Little Valley Road and NE Bernt Road.
Photo: Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson (third from left), presents a check to Brian Kilpatrick (right) from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Looking on are Matt Slaney (left) from EMBA and Commissioner Rob Gelder.
Kitsap and its community partners are in the homestretch of the capital campaign to preserve the remainder of the forestland south of Port Gamble. The goal is to raise $3.5M to pair with state grants to acquire the remaining 1,600 acres of timberland, wildlife corridors and trail systems this year. With the necessary funding, Kitsap will be able to pursue construction of a world-class mountain biking ride park, as well as a regional trail connection (the Sound to Olympics Trail) between Port Gamble and Kingston. With the campaign winding down and the goal within reach, you can help cross the finish line. Please donate to these historic acquisitions that will preserve this land for future generations. For more information, please visit www.savePG.org.
The Washington State transportation budget was approved with $500,000 earmarked for Kingston. Several years ago, stakeholders met to discuss a preferred alternative to having ferry traffic run through Main Street in downtown Kingston. Many local merchants complain that the ferry traffic blocks access to their businesses and tends to make locals avoid the area during peak ferry traffic. It was agreed that rerouting all ferry traffic to 1st Street, where currently the ferry traffic offloads, was the preferred alternative. Due to a lack of funds from any of the agencies involved, talks stalled.
With the new funding from the state budget, Commissioner Gelder has reconvened the key stakeholders to plan for the realignment. Representatives from Kitsap County Public Works, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the WSDOT Ferries division, State Patrol, the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, the Kingston Citizens Advisory Council and other interested Kingston interests were on hand for a meeting in June to revive the realignment effort. Stay tuned for new developments on this project!
Visitors coming into Kingston will do a double-take when they see the dozen giant-sized Adirondack chairs throughout downtown. As part of a local branding effort for Kingston to sit, relax and stay a while, the hope is the brightly colored chairs will encourage people of all ages to stop and enjoy them while taking in the mountain and sound views, beautiful beaches, parks, and marina.
"The chairs are a great visual around the community that will convey fun and excitement, not to mention a reason to come play and stay in Kingston," said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder, who supports the effort to increase economic development and tourism in North Kitsap. He hopes the chairs will grab the attention of those passing through town and get them to stop and enjoy the community while supporting local businesses and activities.
Commissioner Gelder has been involved in the planning for the big chairs for nearly a year, along with Port of Kingston Executive Director Jim Pivarnik and brainchild of the initiative, Susan Rodgers, owner of Cleo's Landing in downtown Kingston and long-time community advocate. She has had two big chairs in front of her business for years and saw how much they attracted people to climb around on them, sit and chill, take photos and look out over Apple Tree Cove. She worked with Doug Woodside, local builder and owner of Decks & Patio Covers in Kingston, to construct the additional chairs that were put in place earlier this month.
The chairs were paid for by individual and business sponsors, including Commissioner Gelder who purchased four chairs using his discretionary funds and placed them at Kola Kole and Arness county parks downtown. Other chairs are at the Port of Kingston's Mike Wallace Park, Kingston Mercantile & Marine and Cleo's Landing.
As the buzz spreads about the big chairs, Kingston will join other Washington communities known for their oversize attractions like the Frogs on the Rock on Bainbridge Island, the Run of Giant Salmon in Olympia and Hat and Boots in Georgetown.
Doug Woodside said there is already interest in four more chairs and they need four more orders as the chairs are built in blocks of eight. Local Kingston businesses and organizations interested in having chairs of their own can contact the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce at (360) 297-3813.
Commissioner Gelder has been selected to join a group of 24 county government leaders from across the country to participate in the 14th Annual County Leadership Institute June 4-8 in Washington D.C.
The rigorous four-day program, developed by the National Association of Counties and Cambridge Leadership Association, enhances the capability of county officials to further develop their approaches towards solving complex challenges facing their counties and constituents, and to forge positive, sustained change in their communities. The curriculum provides tools to encourage innovation and creativity in a new era of government, resources for invigorating organization culture and best practices for effective communication, collaboration and decision-making.
"I'm truly humbled and honored to be selected for this training," said Commissioner Gelder. "To learn alongside other commissioners from around the country is a gift. I'm excited to be able to learn new or refined skills to help me in my role of service to Kitsap County. This is a unique opportunity to learn from experts and work with other county leaders as we strengthen our skills to tackle some of our greatest challenges.
Faculty from Cambridge Leadership Associates, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University will present a curriculum that provides a basis for the application of adaptive leadership and strategies for resolving issues in public service.
"County officials often address similar issues and can learn a great deal from one another," said Matthew Chase, NACo's executive director. "The County Leadership Institute fosters peer-to-peer learning and encourages common-sense solutions to challenges that counties and residents face every day.
Since its inception, the Leadership Institute has graduated nearly 300 leaders from 172 counties across 45 states. Two other Kitsap County Commissioners were previously selected to participate in the leadership institute: Josh Brown in 2011 and Jan Angel in 2005.