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Kitsap NASCAR a political battle?
It occurred to me the other day, as I listened to an impassioned pitch for the NASCAR racetrack in Kitsap County from its only Republican County Commissioner, Jan Angel, in whose district it would be built, when did this thing become a political battle between the Democrats and the Republicans?
Look at whos for it and whos against it. Democrats and Democratic officials, including Gov. Christine Gregoire, House Speaker Frank Chopp, all nine of Kitsaps Democratic legislators and both of its Democratic county commissioners are opposed.
Well, Rep. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch doesnt oppose it as such, hes just against any public financing of it as he is against public financing of any sports stadium.
Exceptions in Democratic ranks are Congressman Norm Dicks and Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman also is for it to the point of wanting to annex the property involved in South Kitsap to Bremerton which Commissioner Angel says she wouldnt be against if that would help.
You could understand the reluctance of the Democrats to see good land go under the pavement because the Ds are the home base of the greenies, but this isnt prime farmland were talking about here. Its lousy land.
There was a rumor that the Democratic party had put out the word that it would not support any candidates for office who were for NASCAR in Kitsap County, Commissioner Angel said. We approached the Democratic party and were told, We are not interested in speaking with you. Thats odd because most if not all of the labor unions are hot for it on account of the jobs it would generate, and the Ds are the handmaidens of labor. Its also not often labor and business are on the same page and all the clambers of commerce in the vicinity are hot for it, too. Bremerton, Port Orchard, North Mason, Silverdale and Tacoma.
I asked Commissioner Angel what the biggest roadblock was, reluctance to spend public money rather than insist on private financing, or fears of what such a project would do to the lifestyle of Kitsap County and she said lifestyle.
But it would be a great tourist draw, she said. Visitors would be expected to stay a minimum of three days when events were scheduled, and more than likely families would make this a family vacation spot.
Personally, I am not a racing fan, cars or horses, and wouldnt go to a race if I had an annual pass. But I have given a lot of thought to the project and while I am not enthusiastic about the crowds it would draw, the tourist revenue would be welcome and the project would generate improvements in the infrastructure connecting us to Megalopolis years before wed get it otherwise.
Gov. Gregoire has suggested locating the track in Lewis County but Lewis is outside the circle. The track must be within 40 or 50 miles of 20,000 hotel rooms and Lewis cant do that. The governor also says the track in Kitsap appears to be dead but nothing is dead in a legislative session until the last gavel falls. I still havent answered the question of why this became political but I got a note from a fellow at the luncheon I attended where Commissioner Angel spoke that read thus: NASCAR fans are Republicans and the Democrats are afraid they will come here, like it and stay. Turning our state to red.
Thats as good a reason as any to be for it then.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.