Commissioner Gelder

Commissioner Rob Gelder

Commissioner Robert Gelder was born and raised in a small upstate New York community where his family still resides. He received a degree in Political Science from the University of Rochester in 1988 and studied Norwegian at the University of Oslo in Norway. Through friendships made in Norway, Commissioner Gelder made the decision to move to Seattle in January 1990.

Commissioner Gelder’s career has afforded him the opportunity to focus on service to the community whether that be health or human services. With 20-plus years working in the not-for-profit sector, he has over a decade of experience as either the chief executive or as a member of the senior leadership team.  Commissioner Gelder has called North Kitsap home for over sixteen years, with the past thirteen years residing in the Keyport area.

Prior to joining the Board of County Commissioners in March 2011, Commissioner Gelder spent his career working in not-for-profit, mission-driven organizations. He believes the County exists to provide service to our community. The challenge before us is to meet the service demands that citizens require given the budgetary constraints that exist.

The Commissioner’s priorities include efficient and effective government in the current economy – maintaining Kitsap’s quality of life and promoting business vitality – advocating for our most vulnerable residents and veterans – and keeping Kitsap safe – and, above all, service.

“As I serve you as County Commissioner, I will always be on the ready to listen and learn. Our community is filled with tremendous people who work tirelessly to create a local vision and to make that vision come true.”

Recent accomplishments:

  • After many years of effort, I and many community partners were successful through the Kitsap Forest & Bay Campaign to add 4,000+ acres into public open space.
  • In 2016, we finalized a complete streets study for Kingston – progress is now being made on improvements to Washington BLVD downtown and we’ve secured over $2.1 million to design and begin implementation of a long term solution to ferry gridlock throughout downtown. We should hear about possible construction funding later this spring.
  • Passed the 1/10th of 1% sales and use tax for mental health and substance abuse – this equates to approximately $5million per year of targeted investments in our community to address the continuum of services and support for those suffering.
  • Led efforts to ensure responsible budgeting on an annual basis to support county services while maintaining solid reserves to weather economic volatility (which we will likely experience in 2020/2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis).
  • Led efforts to remove barriers to development in downtown Kingston, as well as the creation of a regional stormwater facility to address nearly 100 acres in the downtown core.
  • Chaired the SR305 Working Group that has stewarded the Connecting Washington funding for safety and congestion improvements along the corridor between Poulsbo and Winslow.
  • Currently serve as the president of the Washington State Association of Counties – a body that represents all 39 Washington counties on the state and federal levels, advocating for good policy ideas while pushing back against unfunded mandates.