By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Arthur Fromer's national Budget Travel Magazine and website announced the nominations for the 2012 contest, the sixth annual, Friday, listing 10 “cool” towns in no particular order.
Voting then began, and the results are adjusted as the votes come in.
By noon, Monday, Port Townsend was in fourth place with 13.1 percent.
“Last year, we were competing with Astoria [Ore.], and they had a good campaign,” said Port Townsend Director of Marketing Christina Pivarnik.
“This year, we are the only town in the Pacific Northwest and are pulling people from Seattle, Portland [Ore.] and around the region,” she said.
“I'm impressed how people are rallying around and getting votes.”
The only other West Coast town in the contest is Weaverville, Calif.
Contest ends Jan. 31
The contest is conducted online until Jan. 31, and the winning town's identity will be clear at that time.
The first-place winner doesn't get any prize, only bragging rights — a worthwhile prize, Pivarnik said.
“Winning this contest would inject us with a lot of positive energy,” she said.
Port Townsend is one of the towns that were chosen by a panel of judges from 647 online nominations of towns with less than 10,000 population that possess special qualities.
Port Townsend, with an official population of 9,136, is the largest of those in the top 10, while the smallest is Cooke City, Mont., with 142.
Two of the traits that pushed Port Townsend to the top of the pack were its Victorian architecture and its proximity to wilderness areas, according to magazine spokesman Ryan Murphy.
The 2010 competition included 20 cities, and Port Townsend placed 13th, while the year's winner was Lewisberg, W.Va., with more than 5,000 votes.
To win the competition, towns must encourage residents to vote daily in order to drive up the numbers, something that seemingly did not happen in Port Townsend last year.
City Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval, the former mayor, said that Port Townsend is well-known around the world but a lot of residents “don't really want anyone else to come here.”
“Cool” is subjectively defined, but local residents know that it fits Port Townsend.
Team Jefferson's Peter Quinn said the town “has a high level of entrepreneurial spirit, both in business and the arts.
“It's the people that make it cool,” said county Commissioner Phil Johnson, who has lived in Port Townsend all his life.
“They are very awake. They have an interest in arts and books. They are supportive of the arts and organizations like Centrum, it goes on and on.
“It's in a beautiful location and is a wonderful place to visit.”
Everything is cool
“Everything is cool about Port Townsend. The people, the view and the architecture,” said singer Selina Espinsoza, who, with her husband Louie, performs karaoke around the region.
“It's centrally located. You can get anywhere from here,” Louie Espinoza said.
“If I was touring [as a musician], this is the place where I'd want to come back to.”
The contest results are updated daily and are a moving target.
On Friday afternoon, Damascus, Va., already had gained 36.6 percent of the vote compared with Port Townsend's 3.3 percent, but over the weekend, Hammondsport, N.Y. pulled into the lead, where it remained on Monday at 20.9 percent.
The other towns signaled out for distinction are Beaufort, N.C., Cape May, N.J., Cooke City, Mont., Jerome, Ariz., Nashville, Ind., and St. Genevieve, Mo.
To vote in the contest go to http://tinyurl.com/87ndc7z/.
Votes are limited to one vote per day for each IP address, which means that one computer — rather than one person — gets one vote daily.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.