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People for a Better Port Orchard cites its sources

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Rebekah Johnson, representing People for a Better Port Orchard, sent me an email this evening citing sources for the anti-Coppola fliers distributed by her group in the recent Port Orchard mayoral campaign. (See below)

Johnson’s statement rebuts a statement by incumbent Mayor Lary Coppola that was posted on the Kitsap Caucus earlier today, shortly after a manual recount showed his challenger Tim Matthes to be the mayor-elect of Port Orchard. Coppola, completing his first term as mayor, called the group’s materials “blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo.

In an interview earlier today, downtown Port Orchard business owner Darryl Baldwin praised Coppola for his pro-business stance and strong leadership, but said Coppola may have had a blind spot for constituents who felt alienated.

“Most of us didn’t expect Lary to lose,” Baldwin said. “What I see under Lary’s leadership, there was a split that was occurring, and Lary either didn’t see it or chose to ignore it.”

On the effect of the fliers, Baldwin, former president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, said, “It didn’t have to sway a lot of votes, but it swayed enough votes.”

I was at the recount today, and I can testify that there was plenty of scrutiny by both candidates and their representatives of the meticulous process, in which ballots that had been previously run through the machine were recounted by hand. No one, not the candidates, not their supporters, not the people who were there out of sheer curiosity, had a beef with how the recount was conducted. In fact, all said Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore ran a tight ship.

This, folks, is democracy in action. The voters have spoken. Despite Coppola’s widespread support among business owners, those with an interest in real estate, and other electeds from within the city and beyond (including plenty of state-level folk), Tim Matthes will become mayor Jan. 2.

Coppola, no doubt, has done considerable soul searching about what led to his political demise. He has said he has no interest in running for other political office. He has plenty of other prospects, however, he said.

The race was extremely close, a difference of five votes out of 3,072 cast. What this means for the city depends on how everyone left in the game — Matthes, council members, business owners, chamber representatives and ordinary citizens — reacts to the change. Matthes ran on an “I am not Lary” platform. What else can he bring? We at the Kitsap Sun will be watching.

Here is Rebkah Johnson’s statement:
Election Result Confirms Voters
Want a Change in Leadership
Contrary to outgoing Mayor Lary Coppola’s claims that he lost his re-election bid due to “blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo” by his opponents, the truth is that the same voters who elected him by more than 70% four years ago had seen enough.  The People for a Better Port Orchard, a citizen’s committee comprised of business owners, taxpayers, families and Port Orchard citizens – some who had supported Coppola just four years ago – simply circulated the facts about his actions and involvement in issues and decisions as Mayor.  The sources for these facts, which clearly refuted his claims, were the Kitsap Sun and the City of Port Orchard.
Mayor Coppola had the opportunity to correct these facts when they first appeared in print in the Kitsap Sun over the last years, but failed to do so, and by his silence agreed with their authenticity.  It is unfortunate that, when faced with the scrutiny and judgment by those who have had enough of these tactics, he seeks to blame others for his own actions.
The details and source material for the mailers that were sent are available at www.letlarygo.com
Of the original precincts that first elected Mayor Coppola four years ago, not including the newly annexed areas of the City, Coppola’s support shrank from the original 70% to barely 45%.  The conclusion is clear – those who have endured these last four years have had enough.
It’s time to move Port Orchard forward.


Mayor Lary Coppola’s statement on Tuesday’s recount

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Results of a manual recount of votes in the Port Orchard mayor’s race show Tim Matthes to be the official winner. Matthes maintained a 5 vote lead over incumbent Lary Coppola, who has issued a statement on the race, the recount and his tenure.

Mayor Coppola’s statement:
“While I’m disappointed in the results, I also strongly believe that
everything happens for a reason, and the universe has a better plan for me
going forward. I’d like to thank the staff at the Auditor’s office for
their hard work and dedication to making this process work.

I’d also like to thank our staff for their support over these past four
years, for their dedication to our City, and to the vision I outlined in
2008. We have a lot to be proud of: Assembling what is commonly
acknowledged by the other elected officials in this county as the very
best, most talented staff of any City; Moving our City from spending
reserves to meet payroll to creating reserves in the worst economy since
the great depression; Bringing the City back into compliance with the
Growth Management Act; Bringing a business-friendly, can-do attitude to
City Hall; and finally, reducing crime – and more importantly violent crime
- significantly. Port Orchard is now a a safer place to live, work, own a
business and raise your family, then any time in more than a quarter of a
century.

We took the high road throughout and ran a clean campaign based on the
issues. Unfortunately, when my my political opponents realized they
couldn’t attack our record of solid. positive accomplishments, they
resorted to attacking my personal integrity and character using a series of
blatant lies, half-truths, and innuendo – and enough voters bought into it
to make the small difference. Such is the nature of politics.

Serving has been both a true honor and a personal pleasure. I want to
express a heartfelt “Thank You” to the downtown businesspeople who
supported me, the organizations and other elected officials who endorsed
me, and most of all, the voters who believed in me four years ago, believed
in my vision for our City, and still believe in me now. I’m sincerely
grateful to all of you. “


More on mayoral recount and some elections trivia

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

As we mentioned in yesterday’s story on the impending recount in the Port Orchard mayor’s race, one need look no farther than the 5-vote difference between leader Tim Matthes and incumbent Lary Coppola to know that the campaign has literally created a rift in the town. Both candidates have said that, if elected, they’d offer an olive branch to their opponents’ supporters.

Kitsap County elections history shows the scales statistically tipped in favor of whoever is leading in the final count. One notable exception on the state level is the 2004 gubernatorial race between Dino Rossi and Christine Gregoire. Recall that one? Rossi, who was ahead initially, lost the race after a manual recount and the dismissal in Chelan County Superior Court of a legal challenge to the election.

In Kitsap County, the recount flip-flopped results the opposite way. Gregoire was ahead by a slim margin in the original count. But Rossi pulled ahead in the machine recount. He remained ahead in the manual recount that followed. Kitsap auditor’s archives show Rossi beating Gregoire in Kitsap 49.33 percent to 48.14 percent.

A look at recounts can be a trip down memory lane. Who out there remembers the tortuous back story that led to the annexation of Bainbridge Island into the city of Winslow? Or that the vote in 1990 went to a manual recount. The “yeas” had it with a lead of 136 among 6,384 votes cast.

Here’s something else you might find interesting. The Kitsap County Auditor lists on its website write-in candidates for two races in this election, the city of Poulsbo Council position 3 race, in which Fred Springsteel registered as a write-in, and the city of Port Orchard mayor’s race, because of the recount.

According to Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore, the vast majority of write-in votes are not able to be counted either because the voter will check write-in but fail to name a candidate or because the person named is not an eligible candidate. About 25 percent are flat-out frivolous, Gilmore said, with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck garnering many votes over the years.

Of the 19 write-in votes cast in the Port Orchard race, 13 were “not qualified.” People who got one vote each included City Councilman Fred Chang and Rebeka Johnson, apparently referring to Rebekah Johnson, treasurer for People for a Better Port Orchard, an anti-Coppola committee. Rebekah is the daughter of Coreen Haydock Johnson Haydock-Johnson, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. Other write-in candidates were Kevin Madden, Bryan McKinnon, James C. Price and Linda Webb.

Recounts put the Auditor’s office in the spotlight, because the public is allowed to observe every step of the process. Gilmore is just fine with that. In fact, she and her staff are happy to share the intricacies of state regulations that guide the elections process. Did you know, for example, that there’s a process for deciding which candidates will appear first on the ballot? Elections staff put slips of paper with all 26 letters of the alphabet in a container and draw them out, establishing a non-aphabetical order that applies to all races.

Both Matthes and Coppola said they would send representatives to observe the recount and be present at least for part of the process themselves. Gilmore said she’d be surprised if there weren’t observers.

“We’re pretty well used to observers coming in and looking over our shoulders, so I don’t see it being a big thing for staff,” Gilmore said.

The recount begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The final result will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division Street in Port Orchard.

History Recounts

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=29A.60.140

http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/2004gov_race.aspx

http://www.kitsapgov.com/aud/Recount.htm

http://www.kitsapgov.com/aud/Write-in-totals.htm


Two votes

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

That’s the margin separating incumbent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and challenger Tim Matthes after today’s (Nov. 16) release from the Kitsap County Auditor’s office. Matthes has held a hair’s-breadth lead throughout.

Nov. 22 is the next ballot update in what has been an excruciatingly close race ever since election night.

Reporter Rachel Pritchett logged this quote from Coppola, who attended this morning’s meeting of the Kitsap Aerospace Partnership, a local partnership attempting to get a piece of the 737 MAX action.

“I’ll just tell you, it sucks to be me right now.”


Hand recount likely in Port Orchard mayor’s race

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

If you follow such things, you’ll have noted that the gap between incumbent Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and challenger Tim Matthes is down to two votes, in preliminary results released Tuesday.

Matthes is ahead as he has been since election night, when one vote separated the two. The widest the margin has been is 13 votes.

Although a hand recount seems all but certain, Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore says it’s not a slam dunk. Hard as it may be on the candidates and their supporters, the auditor’s office can’t make that call until the election is certified Nov. 29.

The Kitsap Sun has been tracking updates from the auditor’s office. New numbers are due out tomorrow, but barring a dramatic change in the margin, we will wait until certification is complete to do our next update.

Here’s the brief we’ll run in tomorrow’s paper, with links to earlier stories on the race, below.

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com360-792-9219
PORT ORCHARD — The gap between the two candidates for Port Orchard mayor has narrowed to two, in preliminary results released Tuesday, and a hand recount is a strong likelihood, according to Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.
Since the Nov. 8 election, incumbent Lary Coppola has trailed challenger Tim Matthes by a margin ranging from one vote to 13 votes.
The current margin between the candidates, 0.08 percent if you don’t count write-in votes, is small enough to trigger a hand recount.
“It’s neck and neck at this point,” Gilmore said. “Right now a recount is likely.”
State election law calls for a machine recount with a margin of less than 0.5 percent and a hand recount for less than 0.25 percent.
But there are still a couple of wild cards in the race in the form of 13 more Port Orchard ballots left to count and 25 “challenge” ballots, whose signatures must be “cured” if they are to be included in the results.
The Kitsap County Auditor’s office has mailed letters notifying challenge ballot voters that they can resubmit their signatures, which either were missing or did not match the registration.
Anyone the auditor’s office doesn’t hear from by Nov. 21 will receive a reminder phone call. Voters have until Nov. 29, the date the election will be certified, to resubmit their signatures.
The auditor’s office will issue an updated report by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Nov. 8
Every vote really matters in Port Orchard race

Nov. 9
Latest ballot count increases challenger’s lead

Nov. 10
Matthes maintains slim lead

Nov. 14
Port Orchard mayor’s race still in limbo


Eyman: The local angle

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I’m posting here a letter e-mailed by Tim Eyman on the heels of the loss on Initiative 1125, which would have restricted how highway tolls can be used. He first makes the case that initiatives are hard, in large part because you have to judge months ahead what the electorate will support. That much probably everyone would more or less agree with.

At least one of his other comments is worth wondering about in connection with local issues.

We’ve learned that initiative campaigns are, by far, the most effective way to increase public awareness, public education, and public participation in public policy. Initiatives aren’t just about passing laws; they’re about lobbying the government. And one of the most important tools of lobbying is public awareness and public votes. $30 car tabs and the 1% property tax limit are two of the most prominent examples, but the seeds of victory for this year’s I-1183 were laid by last year’s I-1100. There are legions of additional examples where the lobbying effect of an initiative campaign layed the groundwork for later legislative action.

So this makes me wonder about the vets and homeless levy that failed in a big way here in Kitsap County. It’s not similar to an initiative in how it was launched. This was not a grass roots initiative in which a number of voters gathered signatures. This was launched by government. But could the silver lining for the levy’s supporters be that the issue was raised at all?

Sure, the measure lost big time. But people are talking about it. Is there any chance the needs supporters identified will be met some other way?

Eyman’s letter follows.

(more…)


Your chance to vote on something important

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Isn't this the sticker we used to get?


This one downplays your benevolence.

Time was when you voted you went to an actual polling place and punched holes into a piece of paper, or a butterfly ballot, and when you walked out of there you left with something that let you puff your chest a little.

It was that old sticker with the American flag and the “I voted” slogan in 182-point font. I like the looks of the stickers we get now for getting out of our cars on election day and actually walking into the library. But, c’mon! What’s the point of wearing an election day sticker if it doesn’t give you moral superiority over your friends and fellow shoppers at Value Village?

A sticker that yells your good deed is like that one you get when they start accepting your blood again. It’s a sticker that answers the question, “You think you’re better than me?”

“Why yes, I do. See here? I voted.”

Maybe it’s just me. That’s why I’m putting the question out there. On election day, if you’re one of those who puts off voting until the last minute and you drop your ballot off somewhere they’re handing out stickers, are you like me? Are you disappointed that the sticker you get understates your contribution to America? If I had my way we would get hats and bumper stickers and T-shirts. I want a sign that says “I’m the 47 percent” to show that I’m among those who care enough about our country to pretend our vote matters.

So take your pick. You like the old “I voted” sticker, or the new one?


Port of Manchester race, truth and consequences

Monday, November 7th, 2011

I’m checking in here, the day before Election 2011, on the issue of term limits, raised during this campaign season by Dave Kimble, a candidate for the Port of Manchester. Kimble has called for reducing the term of port commissioner from 6 to 4 years.

Kimble, if you remember, is making his fifth bid for the port commission. He has made it no secret he is gunning not so much for his opponent, incumbent Dan Fallstrom, but for longtime port commissioner Jim Strode, who beat him in the late 1990s in a race so close it was called on a coin toss.

Kimble, in an Aug. 15, Kitsap Sun story on his term limit proposal, noted that Strode will have served 30 years with the port when his term is up at then end of 2015.

“It sounds like it’s an election for me and Strode, but it’s not. It’s joined at the hip,” Kimble said.

Kimble has said that, if elected, he would make it his job to rock the boat and challenge the “good old boy network” he thinks has developed on the port commission.

Fallstrom has pledged to take a steady-as-she-goes approach and maintain what he describes as the fiscally conservative mindset that the board of commissioners has historically held over its modest budget.

Regardless of whether Kimble wins or loses, term limits would be a good first step, he said.

“I like the idea of stopping career politicians from serving on our port commission,” he wrote in a letter to the Kitsap Sun’s opinion page Oct. 25.

Sitting commissioners, including Fallstrom, have expressed concern that a four-year rotation could result in having two new commissioners on the three-person board in certain election years. That, Fallstrom and others say, could result in instability and loss of institutional knowledge.

Kimble says term limits would make the port commissioner position less daunting of a commitment, possibly attracting new candidates. It also would result in more dramatic change-ups on the board, which Kimble sees as a good thing.

Kimble inaccurately stated in his Oct. 25 letter that half of the state’s ports have already switched to four-year terms. According to a document on the Washington Public Ports Association website, only 10 of the state’s 75 ports have four-year terms. Five of those have five-member commissions, reducing the potential for major change-ups in any given election year. The other 65 have six-year terms.

The cost of the term limit election measure became an issue in early August. The situation bears some similarity to Port Orchard’s code city debacle.

If you recall, Port Orchard residents Gil and Kathy Michael challenged the city council’s decision to change its form of governance without putting the matter to a vote of the people. The Michaels submitted a petition to place the code city proposal on the ballot, but the timing of their submission meant the city would have had to pay up to $30,000 for the election, because they would miss the general election, when the cost could be shared with other cities, the county, ports and school districts. The council reversed its decision on becoming a code city, with the idea they will take it up again in the future, possibly putting it to a vote when timing would allow for a less costly election.

Kimble in early August asked the commissioners to put the term-reduction measure to voters, but they said there wasn’t time get it on the November ballot (the deadline was in late August) and hold a public hearing on the proposal, which the port attorney advised.

Kimble responded by launching his signature collection efforts. In an email copied Aug. 8 to the Kitsap Sun, he said failure to place the measure on the general election ballot could result in special election costs to the port of $8,000, for a shared election, up to $35,000. Kimble said he would ask the measure be placed on the February, 2012 ballot.

Port commissioners also believed the cost of the election would be high, according to Fallstrom, who said they discussed the issue at their October meeting. The port’s total operating budget is just more than $50,000. “It’d cripple us basically,” Fallstrom said.

In an email to Manchester resident Carol Kowalski, Fallstrom said he believed having to pay the $30,000 could lead to a decline in the port’s bond rating. That opinion made its way into a letter to the editor (not in the Kitsap Sun) by Kowalski that was critical of Kimble.

In an his Oct. 25 letter to the Kitsap Sun titled “Port of Manchester not the OK Coral,” Kimble said that the cost of the election could be as little as $800 and “some individuals” were spreading “misinformation.”

On checking with Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore, I found Kimble to be correct on the $800 cost. Gilmore, citing RCW 53.12.175, noted that the measure “must be submitted (to the ballot) at the next general election or special election that occurs 60 days or more from the adoption of the resolution (if the board were to initiate it) or submission of the petition.”

The law, in this case, appears to give the port the option to wait on submitting the measure until the next general election, when the port would share the cost of the election with multiple other jurisdictions, Gilmore said.

The words “in this case” are critical, said Gilmore, who emphasized that there are many types of petitions, each governed by different RCWs, depending on the type of government agency and the subject of the petition.

As with the code city issue, Gilmore said, the burden of understanding the consequences of the law is on the petitioner, because the burden of carrying out the law is on the city, county or port that receives the petition … at a cost to taxpayers that could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Fallstrom was delighted to learn (from me during the week of Oct. 24) that the port would have the option to delay Kimble’s term limit measure until the general election. “That’s good news to us. That’s the first I’ve head of it,” he said.

A couple other things both the petitioner and the port ought to know, if they don’t already: Kimble has up to six months from the date the first signature was obtained (Sept. 16, 2011) to submit the petition. That would be March 16, not February, as Kimble earlier believed.

Second, the law is unclear in this case on how the petition is to be submitted. The RCW says the petition “shall be submitted to the county auditor.” It doesn’t say whether it’s to go first to the port, which then is bound to submit it to the auditor, or if Kimble can and should submit it directly. Gilmore said she would want county attorneys to rule in on a definitive answer.

All this may seem like a lot of governmental geekiness, but a lack of attention to just such a detail is what tripped up the code city ballot efforts.

Kimble has multiple other complaints about the port. One that’s still hanging fire has to do with an interlocal agreement that, according to Fallstrom, allows the port to contract for small jobs without going out to bid. Kimble believes it’s a circumvention of public process and has lodged a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office. A spokeswoman for the SAO told me her office will review the complaint, and I’ll keep an ear out for the results.

Check in with the Kitsap Sun tomorrow evening for the results of this and other local races.


Signs of the Kitsap County commissioner campaign

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Tristan Baurick is writing a story on the changed political sign culture on Bainbridge Island. I’ve got a sign story of my own to tell.

On Aug. 29 Kitsap County commissioner candidate Chris Tibbs sent a letter to Doug Ellis, interim executive director at the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, and to Sam Reed, secretary of state, about a call made to a vendor of his.

Tibbs, a Republican, said that Dennis Peterson, owner of Kitsap Sign Co., told him Linda Gabriel, campaign manager for Rob Gelder, a Democrat running for the seat he was appointed to earlier this year, called Peterson’s business identifying herself as Tibbs’ campaign manager and asking to see paid invoices.

Gabriel has since said of Peterson’s contention, “If he told him that, he either was mistaken or not telling the truth, but I never said that to him.” Peterson himself has since said he thought that is what she said, but he may have not heard it correctly.

Tibbs’ letter was not an official complaint and he asked what Gabriel would be entitled to. Phil Stutzman from the PDC responded saying that Gabriel was entitled to see what she was asking to see. As for the misrepresentation, “The PDC has no authority to require a person to properly identify who they are when contacting a commercial advertiser, although we hope a person would properly identify him or her self.”

Gabriel had planned to have campaign volunteers go look at the invoices, she said, because Tibbs had not yet posted them with the commission, and there seemed to be far too many signs out there for the receipts that had been recorded. Tibbs has been, in his words, “aggressive” in getting lots of signs out there. She would have been entitled to go look. Vendors are required to show the paperwork they create when it involves campaigns for public office.

Gabriel didn’t send someone, because the receipts were then posted on the PDC site before that was necessary.

That vendors are required to show that info was news to Peterson, because he had never been asked. That’s not surprising, because normally the records are readily available online before it gets to going to vendors. In this case they were not, according to Gabriel.

Personally, I think either Peterson misheard Gabriel, or Gabriel misspoke without realizing it. She said it would be stupid for her, someone who was readily identified as the campaign manager for one candidate, to try to sneak one by a vendor by claiming to be the campaign manager for someone else. I agree. That would be stupid. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone from a campaign might try to pull a fast one, but not something so easy to disprove and not for something she was entitled to see anyway.

What further makes me think it was an honest mistake by someone is that Peterson, when I talked to him on the phone, didn’t know who Gelder was. He knew Tibbs, since he’d printed the signs for him. I don’t think Peterson was lying. I think he thought Gabriel said something she did not.

One thing Gabriel and Peterson agree on was that neither liked how they were being treated on that phone call between each other.

A lot of what burns campaign workers at election time is what happens to their signs. Every year, since 2004 anyway, we reporters are asked to look into what campaign workers allege is vandalism to campaign signs. In 2004 there was clear targeting of many George Bush signs. Some of John Kerry’s signs were abused, but it did seem that Bush signs were trashed in far greater numbers.

Since that election I have heard complaints every year, mostly from Republicans. James Olsen on Bainbridge Island has consistently created a list of the destruction to his signs on Bainbridge Island.

On Monday I spoke with Jim Sommerhauser, who until this year could be seen every election planting campaign signs for the Democratic Party. Sommerhauser said a campaign can count on losing about half of its signs during a campaign. The vast majority of those losses, he said, are caused by what he described as “kids” going after an easy target. He said most of it is not really aimed at a candidate for reasons other than availability, but sometimes kids respond to their parents’ open opinions about candidates by acting out in ways an adult would not. About 10 percent of the vandalism, he said, is intentional.

Another cause is when candidates don’t know the rules about where signs can go. State right of way is off limits. County right of way is fine for the smaller signs in most of the county, as long as they’re not put on mowed areas or have the wire holders. On Bainbridge Island the property owner next to the county right of way must be notified. In Bremerton and Port Orchard signs are not allowed on public right of way, period. All this is according to a rule sheet Sommerhauser hands out to other Democrats.

Sommerhauser, on that same sheet, advises how to place signs to reduce vandalism, but also makes the case to not overdo them. He says candidates should not try to “outsign” opponents, and that a sign in someone’s yard carries endorsement value a sign along a random point in the road does not.

Tibbs has tried to outsign Gelder, and for the most part he’s done it. You see one Tibbs sign, you might see six. There is also good evidence to support that Tibbs signs are being pulled and dumped on the ground in greater numbers than anyone else’s. The picture above comes from Tibbs’ Facebook site. The site isn’t dedicated to sign vandalism, it’s for his campaign, but he did post some pictures.

Law enforcement has not generally placed a high priority on policing this stuff when they hear about it. It’s not that they don’t respond to calls, but I haven’t heard of too many people being caught. I’d like to see someone vandalizing a sign just so I could get to the motive.

Sometimes the vandals are doing it in public enough that another citizen will notice. Here is an audio recording of a woman’s call to 911 when she saw someone dumping signs.

 

Tibbs provided the audio here and showed me the police report. That report shows several signs on the ground. They all belong to Tibbs. Other signs, for Bremerton City Council candidate Faye Flemister are left standing. The two theories are that his signs are being targeted either because he is a Republican, or because there are so many of his signs out there, way more than anyone else. I’m guessing some of you have an opinion about that.


Reed predicts 47 percent turnout

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting 47 percent of voters will cast ballots in this off-year election. Similar elections typically draw about 50 percent, Reed said in a statement, but this year’s election lacks the heat some might have.

I’ve got a call in with county officials. My hunch is turnout will be higher here. For one, there is a county commissioner election, not normal in an off year. In Port Orchard the mayor is up for re-election. Bainbridge Island is considering a port. In Bremerton I’m not sure what to think. Three council races are not races at all. But there is the question of council size. I’m not sure how that one will affect turnout.

UPDATE: The county is predicting 50-55 percent turnout, based only on Kitsap’s history of outvoting the state.

Reed’s press release follows:
(more…)


Rumor patrol on ballot postage

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Today, I checked into a possible snafu with ballot postage that turned out to be a non-issue.

We got an email from someone who said the post office told him the ballot he was trying to mail required an additional stamp. The problem appears to be an anomaly.

Elections manager Dolores Gilmore said that ballots properly returned would only require a single stamp. In fact, her office has received an estimated 10,000 ballots since they were mailed out last week. The single stamp seems to be working just fine, she said.

Gilmore said even if a person forgot to tear off the tab on the ballot, the extra weight would not put the envelope over the 1 ounce limit (for a single stamp). This election requires a 2-column ballot. Some elections require a 3-column ballot, which would be above one ounce, Gilmore said.

Gilmore speculated that if one were to mail a flier included with the ballot stating voter instructions and notice of ballot drop-box locations, and if the voter failed to tear off the tab (which is supposed to be removed), the weight might exceed one ounce.

If you want to save yourself a stamp, 24-hour ballot deposit boxes are available until 8 p.m. Nov. 8, election day, at the Poulsbo Fire Station, 911 NE Liberty Road, Poulsbo; and at the Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division Street (corner of Division and Cline) in Port Orchard. The Kitsap County Auditor’s election division is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.


Live Blog: Bremerton Council, Port of Bremerton, Vets Levy

Monday, October 10th, 2011

We plan to live blog the League of Women Voters forum this evening. Two races and one issue are part of the two-hour event:

  • Bremerton City Council District 2: Cecil McConnell and Leslie Daugs
  • Port of Bremerton Commissioner District 3: Axel Strakeljahn and Shawn Cucciardi
  • Veterans & Human Services Levy


Seaquist will run for re-election

Friday, September 9th, 2011

My apologies to Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, for any confusion caused by errors in yesterday’s blog post on the 2012 race for the 26th District. Seaquist declared in January he will run for re-election.

Chris Henry, reporter


Port Orchard mayoral and council races debated

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Last week, the Kitsap Sun editorial board heard from candidates for the city of Port Orchard at-large position. Video of the debate between Ben Pinneo and Jerry Childs is posted on our website (and below).

Editor David Nelson, on his “From the Editor’s Desk” blog, fills in candidates’ comments where the tape cut off early.

Today, the ed board will hear from mayoral candidates Tim Matthes and incumbent Lary Coppola, and from candidates for position 5 Amy Miller and Cindy Lucarelli.

I sit in on the debates, but I’m not involved in any discussion of endorsements, which come from the editorial board. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask the candidates, call by 3:30 p.m. (360) 792-9219 or email chenry@kitsapsun.com.

For more on this election season, see the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide.


Veterans and Human Services Levy Resolution – Read it Here

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Comments on today’s story about the county’s Veterans and Human Services Levy, approved for the Nov. 8 ballot by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, indicate there is considerable lingering disgruntlement about the board’s decision in 2009 to defer collection of the the veterans assistance fund levy in 2010, a move made to help balance the county’s general fund budget.

Please note that the fund that would be created if voters approve the special Veterans and Human Services Levy is separate from the county’s Veterans Assistance Fund, but because they both are aimed at helping veterans, people have connected the dots.

Commissioners Josh Brown and Charlotte Garrido, who were on the board at the time, seemed at last night’s meeting well aware of the sense of mistrust and long memories of those who disagreed with that decision, the net result of which was $320,000 that did not go into the fund.

Garrido and Brown commented more than once to that effect.

“Levy proceeds can only be used for the stated goals of this program. Levy funds cannot be used to supplant the county’s general fund.” – Charlotte Garrido

“We want to make it very clear that if this levy is approved, these monies go in a lock box. The monies cant be diverted.” – Josh Brown

I’ve attached a copy of the Veterans and Human Services Levy Resolution to the story (and put a link to it here). The document goes into considerable detail about how the money will be tracked and allocated. Revisions were made in response to public comments, said Leif Bentsen, who coordinates the county’s Veterans Assistance Program. Whether provisions of the resolution adequately provide for efficiency, transparency and effective use of the $1.4 million per year is open to debate between now and Nov. 8.

Several readers also commented that they would prefer a sales tax over a property tax. Commissioner Rob Gelder got back to me today and reaffirmed what he said at the meeting. While state law allows for the county to collect sales taxes for a host of purposes, a human services levy is not among them. The closest the law comes to that is a provision for mental health funding, Gelder said.

Chris Henry, reporter

Here’s the entire document for those who can access it.

Homeless Levy


Strakeljahn first out campaigning for port post

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Here’s a post from our business reporter Rachel Pritchett, who covers the Port of Bremerton. Thanks Rachel for the contribution. — Chris Henry

SILVERDALE — First out on the campaign trail for the open Port of Bremerton commissioner post is Axel Strakeljahn, who got a few words in at a meeting of the Kitsap County Republican Party on Monday evening.

Strakeljahn, pronounced Streck’-el-john with a short e in the first syllable, got a wait-and-see reception from the 25 or so who attended the meeting at the Silverdale Beach Hotel.

Not surprisingly, one of the first questions he got was whether he would raise taxes.

“No, sir,” responded Strakeljahn, longtime local home-and-garden businessman, fiscal conservative and current manager of the Port Orchard Fred Meyer.

The Seabeck resident said he was the candidate with the strongest “business ethics” and the one with “experience you can trust.”

He promised to give “careful attention to where money is spent.”

Strakeljahn, 52, took aim at the port’s marketing efforts, which he said have been carried off “ineffectively” and “irresponsibly.”

He suggested instead that the port and the cities of Port Orchard and Bremerton become “a cohesive working unit” to promote tourism and a healthier business climate.

He took exception to an early and informal suggestion by one current commissioner, Bill Mahan, that the port consider hiring a consultant to come up with a plan to promote an “industry cluster.” According to Mahan, identification and promotion of an industry cluster would strengthen the ties and attract new players in a certain industry, say in boat-building. Mahan has said the $200,000 cost could be shared by many entities that would result in only a small cost to all. Strakeljahn said that was a bad idea. The matter is expected to be further discussed at an upcoming port study session.

Strakeljahn, who built his own house in Seabeck, said that after three decades of leading businesses in Kitsap, it was time for him to give back to the community.

He said he has endorsements from state Rep. Jan Angel and others.

The only other person who has announced he will run so far is Shawn Cucciardi, an owner and general manager of McCormick Woods Golf Course and the Clubhouse Restaurant at McCormick Woods.

Port commissioner District 3 is being vacated by Mahan, who is retiring. The expansive district covers much of south and west Kitsap.

— Rachel Pritchett, reporter, (360) 475-3783


Second candidate throws hat in ring for port seat

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Shawn Cucciardi, general manager and an owner of McCormick Woods Golf Course and the Clubhouse Restaurant at McCormick Woods, announced today that he will run for Port of Bremerton commissioner position 3, being vacated by longtime commissioner Bill Mahan. Port Orchard Fred Meyer manager Alex Axel Strakeljahn already has announced he will run for the position.

Cucciardi said he would make it a priority to court port tenant Safe Boats, which employs 260 and plans to hire more. The port is mulling a “marine cluster” to entice Safe Boats to stay.

“Our priorities are to create and maintain jobs by retaining current tenants like SAFE Boats and focusing on a long term development plan to increase business revenue and make the port fiscally self-sufficient,” he said.

Filing week starts on Monday. We’ll do our best to keep readers up to speed. Feel free to contact us with notice of your candidacy: chenry@kitsapsun.com or sgardner@kitsapsun.com.

Our apologies to Mr. Strakeljahn for an earlier misspelling of his first name.


Lucarelli attends candidate forum

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Cindy Lucarelli attended a candidate forum Thursday at Port Orchard city hall, but she’s not certain she’ll make another run for public office.

In 2009, Lucarelli came within 12 votes of unseating long-time councilwoman Carolyn Powers in a race that triggered a machine recount.

Lucarelli lost in 2007 to John Clauson, another council veteran, who is up for re-election this year (position 4).

“To be honest, I’m not even sure that I’m running,” said Lucarelli, on being asked about her presence at the candidates orientation. “I just went to make sure there wasn’t something I didn’t know about.”

With filing week just more than a week away (it starts June 6), Lucarelli, organizer of the city’s Cedar Cove Days, is saying she’s still on the fence, with “several factors” playing into her decision whether to run.

Other city of Port Orchard positions open are: mayor (incumbent Lary Coppola has announced he’ll run), position 1 (incumbent Jim Colebank), position 5 (Fred Olin) and at-large (Jerry Childs). None of the incumbent councilmen have made their intentions known.


Candidates workshop at Port Orchard city hall today (5/26)

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

If you’re considering running for public office, the city of Port Orchard is hosting a presentation today at city hall that could be called Candidates 101. The event will cover how to file for office and rules about campaign finance, among other topics.

Filing week is June 6 through 10 at the Kitsap County auditor’s office.

The workshop is from 5 to 8 p.m. at city hall.

Offices open in the city of Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton are listed below. Port Commissioner Bill Mahan has said he won’t run again. Mayor Lary Coppola has announced he will.

Check websites for school board, fire district and utility district seats up for election.

City of Port Orchard – 2nd Class City, Candidates may reside anywhere within the City

Office and Incumbent Annual Salary Filing Fee Term
Mayor – Lary Coppola $60,150.40 $601.50 4 year
Council Position 1 – James W. Colebank $9,254.88 $92.55 4 year
Council Position 4 – John W. Clauson $9,254.88 $92.55 4 year
Council Position 5 – Fred Olin $9,254.88 $92.55 4 year
Council At-Large – Jerry Childs $9,254.88 $92.55 2 year

Port of Bremerton District No. 1
Commissioner District 3 Bill Mahan $12,000 $120.00 6 year


At least one Poulsbo council seat is open

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Brynn writes:

Steve wrote earlier this week about the filing period set to open June 6 for those interested in running for an elected office. Five of the seven Poulsbo City Council seats will be up for election this year.

I just learned at least one of them is wide open. Councilman Jeff Bauman sent an email this morning saying he would not be running in this fall’s election. He was appointed to the position in January 2010 after Becky Erickson was elected mayor. He filled her vacant position.

Here is what Bauman had to say in his email about his decision to resign:

As you know, June 6 – 10 is the filing period for candidates interested in seeking open seats on the November ballot.  It is a privilege for me to serve with you on the City Council.  I also appreciate the encouragement I’ve received from so many citizens.  For months I have struggled with the decision of whether or not to seek re-election.  For a variety of personal reasons I have chosen not to run.  I felt I should get the word out now so that interested members of the public will have time to consider filing for the seat I will be vacating.

The five positions set for (re)election include:

  • Council Position 1 – Linda Berry-Maraist (4 year)
  • Council Position 2 – Connie Lord (4 year)
  • Council Position 3 – Jeff Bauman (Short & 4 year)
  • Council Position 4 – Jeff McGinty (4 year)
  • Council Position 6 – David Musgrove (2 yr unexpired)

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