Tag Archives: Election 2011

People for a Better Port Orchard cites its sources

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

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

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. “

Two votes

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.”

Port of Manchester race, truth and consequences

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.

Notes from the chamber of commerce debate

Debates are the political equivalent of speed dating. Candidates have snippets of time to define themselves, differentiate themselves from their opponents and connect with the crowd.

We at the Kitsap Sun will be doing in-depth articles articles on local races and ballot issues. Debate coverage, on the other hand, could be seen as more superficial but also more immediate.

Here’s what I took away from this morning’s debate hosted by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce. Races featured were the Port of Bremerton Commissioner, District 3, and Kitsap County Commissioner, District 1 (North Kitsap), neither of which I’m doing the in-depth coverage on.

In the commissioners’ debate, Republican Chris Tibbs took every opportunity to set himself apart from incumbent Commissioner Rob Gelder. Gelder was appointed in March to fill Steve Bauer’s position.

Interestingly enough, Tibbs considers himself an “independent moderate” and has contributed to Democratic campaigns in the past. His goal in this race seems to be to diversify the all-Democratic board of commissioners.

“We have not had an independent voice on the board since 2008 (when Republican Jan Angel’s term ended),” Tibbs said. “I think we need a voice to look at the interests of what the minority are.”

Democrat Gelder countered that he doesn’t automatically align with fellow commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Josh Brown.

“I maintain my own independent voice,” said Gelder, whose background is in nonprofit management, most recently at Martha & Mary Health Services of Poulsbo. “What I uniquely bring to the board of commissioners is the perspective of service.”

Gelder said his goal is to “re-size government to a more sustainable level,” while advocating for “the most vulnerable.”

Tibbs, director of sales and operations for Ootopia coffee roasters, touted his business experience and said he would run the county with a more stringent eye to the bottom line, fully funding justice, roads and land use, and cutting as needed in other departments. Tibbs would be looking to “shed layers of employees” but also wants to restore the county to 5-day per week service versus the current 4.

Tibbs blasted the county’s “lack of transparency,” citing the Shoreline Master Plan Update process and the county’s legal tangle with Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club as examples.

Gelder, now on the defensive, said the county has come a long way in increasing transparency, especially in the budget process. (Both Gelder and Tibbs served on the county’s budget advisory committee). Concerns that the Shoreline Master Plan will decimate individual property rights are not justified, Gelder said. The public has and will continue to be involved in the planning process.

Gelder said the county has made strides toward a sustainable budget and the board is on track to rebuild the general fund reserve account. He cited recent refinancing of bonds that will save an estimated $1.7 million over time as an example of the county’s more proactive approach to balancing the budget.

Gelder also defended his background in nonprofits as valid experience for the job of commissioner. “Running a not-for-profit requires you to be even more creative to make payroll,” he said.

The two candidates hold 180-out positions on Kitsap County’s membership in the Puget Sound Regional Council. The council, which also includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, oversees distribution of state and federal transportation funding.

Tibbs says Kitsap’s interests are not being represented in the PSRC. He advocates the county withdraw and establish its own stand-alone entity. “We have no reason to be with this organization,” Tibbs said. “We could be a stand-alone and receive the same or more monies.”

Gelder said the county can’t afford to distance itself from the PSRC. “It’s the reality we’re operating in,” he said. “We need to be a player around the table. If we’re not there, they basically will roll right over us.”

In the nonpartisan Port of Bremerton debate, candidates Axel Strakeljahn and Shawn Cucciardi had a harder time setting themsleves apart from one another.

Both said the port has not yet fully recovered the public’s trust since 2007 when it passed a poorly publicized tax increase of 45 cents per $1,000 for the Bremerton Marina. Cucciardi called it a “stealth tax.” Strakeljahn dubbed it the “midnight tax.”

Both candidates talked of the port’s need for a solid short- and long-range business plan to promote economic development. Both touted their business experience as credentials for the job. Strakeljahn manages the Port Orchard Fred Meyer. Cucciardi manages McCormick Woods Golf Course & Clubhouse.

Cucciardi said he’d pump up marketing of the port. Strakeljahn said he’d make sure any business decision made by the port commission pencils out. He would “hold the line on taxes” he said.

Cucciardi said his style is to take “positive approach” to problem solving. Strakeljahn spoke of his immigrant parents, who taught him the value of hard work and “attention to detail.”

So there you have it, just a few notes from the debate, for what it’s worth.

Port Orchard mayoral and council races debated

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.

Strakeljahn first out campaigning for port post

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

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

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)

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