By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“I’ve known him ever since he got here,” said Brinnon resident Bud Schindler of “mayor-elect” George Sickel. “He’s a really special guy and helps people whenever he can.”
Sickel, 71, was “elected” to the ceremonial position Wednesday night when votes — which cost a dollar each — were counted in a contest in which ballot-box-stuffing was encouraged.
It was a fundraiser for the Brinnon Parks and Recreation District.
The $250 in votes, added to the $275 raised in the soup cook-off in February, paid the district’s $431 insurance bill, said parks board member Nicole Black.
Without insurance, the district couldn’t hold public events, so the funding is essential, Black said.
Sickel did not attend Wednesday’s meeting because he had a medical procedure set for the next day, but he heard about it later.
During his one-year term, the ersatz mayor will receive an honorary mayor car door magnet, a T-shirt and a baseball cap that he can keep after he leaves office.
He will be “inaugurated” at the annual Loyalty Day Parade at 1 p.m. April 27 in downtown Brinnon.
“I get to ride in the parade and be the official mayor, but it’s all facetious,” Sickel said.
He intends to speak out on issues as he always has done but doesn’t think the new position will bring any additional credibility or power.
He would like to ease the fishing restrictions in the North Hood Canal, lobby the county to be more small-business-friendly and get rid of some of the state health department’s “onerous” regulations.
“You can’t fish in the Hood Canal because of the depleted oxygen, but that’s not the case up here, so there is no reason that we shouldn’t be allowed to catch cod and other fish besides salmon,” he said.
A retired Boeing engineer, Sickel has lived in Brinnon since 1998 with his wife of 33 years, Karen.
The couple have no children, “which is what allowed me to retire when I was 55,” he said.
During his time in Brinnon, he has volunteered and been active in the community.
He continues to work with the Boeing Bluebills and was a founding member of the Brinnon Community Center Advisory Board.
He also is the “go-to guy” for computer problems in Brinnon.
“If anyone is having any trouble with their computer and has a virus or something, I’ll fix it for free,” he said.
He has never sought elected office “because I’m retired, and politics doesn’t interest me.”
He has also been involved in putting together the Brinnon ShrimpFest, which takes place on Memorial Day weekend.
Sickel will ride in the 79th annual Rhododendron Festival parade in Port Townsend on May 17 in Port Townsend and in the Quilcene Parade on Sept. 20.
Black said the next mayor will be “elected” in a similar fashion and expects that it will become a regular parks district fundraiser.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.