New editor takes helm of The Leader


Brian Kelly has been named as the new editor of the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader.

Kelly, a 30-year veteran of the newspaper industry, has worked for daily and non-daily newspapers in the Pacific Northwest since 1992. He comes most recently from the Bainbridge Island Review, a newspaper owned by Sound Publishing, where Kelly was the editor for the past eight years.

“I’m excited to have Brian join our team: he has been leading local newsrooms for years,” said publisher Donna Etchey. “His passion for the news and his leadership skills will be a great addition to our team.”

Kelly was born in Port Huron, Michigan, the youngest of three sons all born a year apart. His father worked in the local paper mill; his mother was a switchboard operator for Michigan Bell Telephone. Kelly joined the Army after high school, was trained as a still photographer, and spent nearly three years overseas with the 1st Infantry Division, the famed “Big Red One.”

After his time in the military, he returned home and worked as an iron cutter in a steel mill in Michigan before continuing his college education with a move west. He is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon, and is an insufferable, diehard Duck fan.

After college, his first journalism jobs in Washington state were as a photographer and reporter for weekly newspapers owned by Pacific Media Group in the Seattle area, followed by a seven-year stint in east King County as the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Record, and later, as a beat reporter for the Seattle Times and the Everett Daily Herald. He left the Herald in 2005 to become editor of the South Whidbey Record on Whidbey Island.

After seven years there, he took the helm as editor of the Bainbridge paper.

“It’s a thrill to be joining such a talented team at The Leader,” Kelly said. “I look forward to hearing from the community about what they’d like to see in their paper.”


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Welcome Brian- Your education continues. Some will court you, and attempt to influence you. I wrote something similar for Dean Miller when he started. His editorial about Mary Jo Kopechne and the self entitled and privileged here gave me hope for the Leader, and all of us.

I would like to see someone at the helm of the Leader that understands the importance of journalism as the 4th estate. (The fourth estate refers to the watchdog role of the press, one that is important to a functioning democracy.)

In doing so you would immediately become and adversary of the comfortable autocratic status quo in Port Townsend, held in place by a No Term Limit City Council with the current 19 year Council Member and 3 time appointed Mayor, also a pretty big advertiser in your paper. There are other very long term Council members and newer ones who inexplicably go along with damaging and expensive policies, and ignore laws and codes. There is a power core that controls the City Council, one need only look at skewed priorities to see it has to be there, like a gravitational field pointing towards a black hole in space. Alan Frank a past Council Member, simply advised, "follow the money".

I would like to see a newspaper with reporters who ask follow up questions to simple sound bite answers, and do the hard work to present varied points of view so readers can perhaps get challenged to think outside the cloudy ceiling so many exist within, in City and County government.. The Leader headed down that path last year with a new Editor who turned back, then suddenly left. Perhaps the path was too steep, perhaps it angered advertisers that pay wages, perhaps I am a fool who doesn't get how it works. I welcome well thought out non lazy thinkers to further my own and other's education as to what it is, and what is required to be human, or a positive force.

I thank the Leader for its unedited comments feature online, which I occasionally hijack when I feel it is warranted. Substantive contrary opinions never seem to reply.

The horrific realities George Floyd has come to symbolize is the top and worst layer of disconnected fellow humans taking power over others. It is how we often are, or have been. It is what we must always work to shine a bright light on and step up to change. "Kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight". In large and small tide pools alike.

We see that "kicking" happening non violently on the national stage now, with a minority confusing the movement with violence. My weapon is often graphic satire sent to "officials" that the public does not see, and what has been called "unrelenting" pressure in words to follow laws and municipal codes, or even change them so the No Term Limit City Council and Appointed Mayor bring no more shame to the real City of Port Townsend. That is its citizens, and the laws enacted by public process. Those who preceded us left us to live and function within some basic rules, now ignored.

You cannot minimize the evil callousness of a knee, symbolic of oppressive weight, forcing the very life out of one of our fellow human beings, and millions like him, nationally and world wide. The disconnect of that mind set is inhuman, if indeed human is a good thing. We all decide that daily. Individually contributing to the "biomass" of positive and negative forces.

"I can't breathe" has become the call for change that must come to all in every political system, large and small. The Fourth Estate in it's pure form is often key. Today corporations own much of the Fourth Estate. The breath of fresh air needed, locally and nationally, is voters who look above the thin cloudy layer our representatives and their employees exist under to keep jobs and social position. Just above that thin ceiling of low clouds the sun does shine. Those locked into the security of working within that system cannot easily venture above it.

Locally, Police Chiefs to City Councils to Mayors (especially non elected) and City Managers can be led off course. The Fourth Estate can help lead them and us back, by challenging us to think above the low clouds the "status quo" and those they employ live comfortably under. In our case the City Manager and Appointed Mayor seem to have power beyond what is supposed to be, in this little tide pool, starting some 20 years ago. It is just one of an infinite number of petri dishes or tide pools of all sizes, seeing what kind of "culture" grows in the medium it contains.

The Fourth Estate can also be led off track, especially because it is a business at the end of the day, needing revenue from its readership base. If readership is de sensitized and not paying attention, the Fourth Estate has a real up hill battle, that perhaps is beyond what its ownership is willing or even smart to get into.

In our case of course, (here he goes) non enforced parking benefiting some is the easily seen manifestation of corrupted power. Less easily seen is the 17 million dollar City debt and needless projects like the 1.2 million carbon heavy concrete "park" at the Visitor Center, done without any public input. That mind set is still leading the City Council and has by all accounts the most influence on the City Manager, who at the end of the day is just another guy wanting to keep his job.

So, get lots of info from all sources. We'll see how brain and spine work together in your case, Brian. Of course you can't operate beyond the low cloudy ceiling most if not all of our "leadership" exists under if the people they are charged to serve, don't know the difference. What I hear from all kinds of folks in leadership positions nationally is that "we can do better". At every level, from employees in lazy wasteful cultures to elected officials in the same. In Port Townsend for over 5 years I have focused on one manifestation of callousness and greed. Ignoring parking for profit. The stench of it is in my face daily. Year after year after year. I encounter very comfortable City Employees who contribute to the overall dysfunction.

So you might or might not ask these questions and have follow ups ready when you are given "pure wind" as a reply.

To City Manager Mauro, and to appointed Mayor Sandoval-

1) How can we say we are working towards a recovery here when there is no parking enforcement that limits business access on many days? This is not a "tourist" / "local" issue. Don't let anyone play "them and us". Especially not now.

2) What agreements or understandings were arrived at when Mr. Mauro ace[ted his job in the midst of the Leader spotlighting parking issues with a graph showing enforcement problems and missing parking funds from the Silverwater in question? The brontosaurus in the room was impossible to miss. Be ready for both to say it needs to be studied. Again and again and again, as real estate and development interests are served.

3) When the City Manager appointed the new interim Police Chief who takes an oath to defend all laws and codes, as the City Manager is required fund all basic services, and no change happened, what in the hell are you guys doing? Of course ask in your own words.

4) I published in Leader Comments a letter to the City Attorney asking about the illegal conversion and closure of Taylor, which was stopped, which would not have been without some push back. There has been no reply regarding what the letter asked about process and more. Do we all deserve answers, or is the City Attorney not wanting to get any on her, and that level of City Government? We can all do better. Everyone knows that.

The horrific "I can't breathe" is now the rallying cry of millions. Parking is obviously not breathing, but "I can't park" leads a thinking rational mind straight to root causes, related budget problems, and more. It is where the path led me. The current mind set and structure of City Government if gone unchecked, might become just as oppressive as a knee to the neck, here under the low ceiling blocking out the sun.

My wish is that the Leader would lead the discussion of term limits on City Council, and a fairly elected Mayor who could not avoid responsibility year after year after decade. Or, if George Floyd and so many others did not die in vain, perhaps the City Council could look within itself and begin the process to move towards term limits and a fairly Elected Mayor. "I can't think above the low clouds and keep my social position"will limit that. These folks will at the same time think they honor George. Doublethink. Old as the hills.

I write to pay Respect for George, and you, and me. I understand he is me and "there but for the grace of God Go I." That is what compels me to keep at it, my own little Fourth Estate. Pretty simple really. Lets see how Brian plays it, or is allowed to play it.

Harvey Windle-- I am Collateral Damage, and stand with all who are. In any sense of the term.

Wednesday, June 3
HarveyW Collateral Damage

I wrote my little reply Wed June 3, the morning the Leader came out. As of Tuesday June 9th there are no other folks answering what they want to see the Leader feature and do. The entire readership is apparently quite satisfied with how things are, or just can't be bothered with a new face at the same old paper.

There is no yay or nay to my observations. Looks like you just can't go wrong Brian. If you do want some responses try this TRUMP!!!!!! SQUIRELL!!!! I do know some folks will go at that endlessly, while not dealing with politics and people here at home they potentially could have more impact on. Funny world.

I just got a bill for renewal of my subscription to the Leader. I will sign on again to support what this community has for a Fourth Estate. I don't advertise much, not in my budget, I do fine by word of mouth and meeting new customers regularly in person. Good luck Brian. Just keep it right down the middle and you should avoid any problems, except paying the bills. I sure wish every City Council member had an online Leader weekly Q&A column so we could get to understand what is going on in the minds we elect to serve us all equally. Could be dynamic. Could mess up the status quo. Bad idea.

Tuesday, June 9