Category Archives: City of Port Orchard

Videos candidates Christensen, Donlin up at Kitsap Sun

Clancy Donlin, candidate for the at-large position on the Port Orchard City Council, and write-in candidate Bill Christensen, who joined the race in early September, met with the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board. Videos of the interviews follow. Usually the board interviews candidates together, but Donlin missed the scheduled interview, Sept. 22, and was interviewed separately on Oct. 1.

For your convenience, I have re-posted the Ed Board videos from all other council races and the mayoral race. As a reminder, I report on the races and am not part of the Editorial Board’s endorsement process. I do sit in on interviews, as my schedule allows.

PO Mayor: Matthes and Putaansuu

PO Council, position 5: Lucarelli and Lane

PO Council, position 1: Cucciardi and Law

PO council position 4: Clauson and Whittleton

PO candidates can’t give back realtors’ contributions

Questions about the influence of outside groups and big money on Port Orchard city government races have been raised by Port Orchard blogger Todd Penland. Penland’s posts about campaign spending in four local races have generated chatter on Facebook and letters to the editor of the Kitsap Sun.

Recently, Penland posted an online petition through calling on four candidates, including mayoral challenger Rob Putaansuu, to reject campaign contributions from the National Association of Realtors, which are recorded in the database of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. The contributions, totaling nearly $25,000 in the four races, are listed as independent expenditures.

The petition had 32 signatures as of Wednesday.

In the interest of transparent campaign finance, the state requires all candidates for elected office to detail direct contributions they take in (including from themselves) and expenditures they make during their campaigns.

Individuals, organizations and political action committees who make independent expenditures on behalf of a campaign (either for or against a candidate or cause) also must log their revenue and expenditures with the PDC. But here’s the difference, the candidate has no control over independent expenditures. In fact, state law requires contributors not to coordinate in any way with the candidate, according to Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman.

The National Association of Realtors, based in Chicago, has spent $8,307 on mailers, phone calls and online ads supporting Putaansuu’s campaign and $5,449 apiece to support the campaigns of city council candidates John Clauson, Cindy Lucarelli and Shawn Cucciardi. All four candidates have been endorsed by the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS.

The no coordination rule will make it tough for the candidates to return the money, because it never was actually in their control. As current campaign finance logic goes, candidates have no say over the free speech of individuals, organizations and PACs who wish to campaign on behalf of or against them.

The bottom line is, Putaansuu, Clauson, Cucciardi and Lucarelli can’t decline the expenditures no matter how may signatures Penland gathers.

Penland’s concerns that the National Realtors’ donations will erode local control of city government were echoed in a letter to the editor of the Kitsap Sun by Dianne Gardner, who worries that the “bigwigs out of Chicago” have their eyes on Port Orchard to make a profit. “What’s more, I am completely against outside money influencing voters,” Gardner writes.

Mike Eliason, CEO and government affairs director for the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS, fired back with a letter stating, “Although our national organization headquarters are located in Chicago and Washington, D.C., political candidate endorsement decisions and funding are decided by local Realtors within Kitsap County.”

Eliason described the Realtors as a “bottom up” association. Local groups aren’t directed from above, he said, but visa versa. A portion of local dues goes to funds with the state and national organizations for “government affairs,” which can cover lobbying or political campaigns, potentially on state or national issues. But local groups retain interest in and proportionate control over these funds.

When election season rolls around, the Kitsap Realtors draw on the local, state or national funds to support the causes or candidates of their choice. What fund they tap depends on a variety of factors, including the balance in each, Eliason said.

Members of the Kitsap realtors group also have the option to donate to RPAC, the association’s political action committee. The committee, which anyone can join, is the group that makes endorsements and devises the campaign spending strategy, Eliason said.

Eliason said the Kitsap realtors group routinely makes independent expenditures as well as direct campaign contributions. While Washington State campaign finance law limits donations to candidates in city council or mayoral races from any one person, group or PAC to $950 per election, there is no limit to independent expenditures.

Direct contributions to city of Port Orchard races from the Washington Association of Realtors on behalf of the Kitsap Realtors stack up as follows: $950 for mayoral candidate Rob Putaansuu and $700 each for Shawn Cucciardi and John Clauson.

Lucarelli (the position 5 incumbent) has registered with the PDC for mini-reporting, which requires she raise and spend no more than $5,000 and which exempts her from detailed reporting. So we don’t know at this point if she has received direct campaign contributions from any Realtors group. Anyone who’s curious can request an in-person meeting to view details of a mini-reporting candidate’s records within eight days of the election.

Lucarelli is not alone. All other city of Port Orchard candidates (aside from the four named above) this year have gone with mini-reporting.

Eliason said he wasn’t free to discuss independent expenditures made by the Kitsap County Association of REALTORS in this year’s election because of the “no coordination” rule. Were candidates to read his statements in the media, they could be construed as a form of communication. But he pointed to past activity as examples of how it works.

“In the past decade, we’ve had independent expenditures in the city of Poulsbo supporting candidates, also in the city of Bremerton,” Eliason said. In 2008, the realtors supported three candidates, including Clauson with independent expenditures. Whether the money is listed as coming from the local, state or national level, it is directed toward campaigns in Kitsap County by the local RPAC, Eliason said.

All four candidates who received the independent expenditures said they were not contacted by the National Association of Realtors about spending to promote their campaigns, and they were unaware of the expenditures until the chatter started online and about town.

“I heard about the situation, but I have no idea what they’re doing or what they’re spending the money on,” Clauson said.

But these expenditures do show up on candidates’ PDC summary reports, which anyone can access.

Remember People for a Better Port Orchard, the group that spent $2,785 in 2011 on advertising aimed at defeating then-incumbent Mayor Lary Coppola? You’ll see their spending in the mayoral campaign listed on Coppola’s PDC disclosure page as an independent expenditure (IE, against).

Are independent expenditures bad in and of themselves? Not necessarily, but they’ve gotten a bad name. The lack of spending limits and the potential for groups to game the system are sticking points in the ongoing debate over campaign finance reform. Eliason says his organization plays by the rules and shouldn’t be lumped in with the bad guys.

It is interesting and perhaps significant that of the 53 mayoral candidates around the state listed by the PDC in this year’s election, Putaansuu is the only one with an independent expenditure. And among the more than 600 candidates for city councils, the three in Port Orchard are among a mere 20 candidates with independent expenditures. In the council races, the donations aren’t all from Realtors. The National Association of Realtors, as of the most recent reporting, had donated at total of $129,264 for city council candidates, including those in Port Orchard (total $24,857), plus candidates in Renton, Seattle and King County.

It’s no secret that a hot button issue for Kitsap realtors (and the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, contributing through their PAC the Affordable Housing Council of the HBA of Kitsap County) is a proposal in the city of Port Orchard to impose development impact fees. The Kitsap County Association of REALTORS took out a large display ad earlier in the discussion stating their position. The HBA’s PAC by the way has donated $950 apiece to Putaansuu, Cucciardi and Clauson.

Eliason said the realtors, unlike some PACs, will always put their logo on campaign materials (or identify their organization in phone calls), and as an organization they eschew slamming opponents of those they endorse.

“In all of our activities, we’ve always run positive messages about our endorsed candidates. We don’t run negative ads about our opponents,” Eliason said.

As for endorsements, the Kitsap realtors do “early endorse” incumbents whose records suggest they’ve represented the group’s interests, Eliason said. This year, they endorsed Clauson and Lucarelli before the filing deadline and did not hold interviews with the challengers, Marcus Lane and Nick Whittleton. Lane, who filed on the last day of filing week, said he has been invited to a couple of realtors’ luncheons and has accepted the invitation.

Cucciardi and his challenger Keith Law were both invited to interview before the RPAC, Eliason said. Only Cucciardi responded to the invite, according to Eliason.

When it comes to campaign contributions, it’s understandable that people watching local races may become concerned by relatively large expenditures on races for mayor or council seats. There is no doubt that groups like the HBA and Kitsap County Assocition of REALTORS are well heeled and well organized. But ultimately they don’t hold the pen to individual ballots. The public at large may or may not be swayed by their materials.

Would it be overly optimistic to think that Port Orchard residents are capable of critical, independent thought when it comes to evaluating the source and content of campaign materials, blogs and articles in the media? Or that on election day the results will be the product of the democratic process, imperfect though it may be? You tell me.

I’m open to receiving or hearing about campaign materials related to the Port Orchard race that you receive from any candidate or group. I’d like to know what’s out there. So thanks in advance for keeping me up to speed by emailing or calling (360) 792-9219.

— Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

Kitsap Sun has video interviews with PO candidates

I see that some people have already linked to a couple of the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board video interviews of candidates for Port Orchard Mayor and the contested council positions.

Here, posted for your viewing convenience, are the interviews done to date: (Port Orchard Mayor) incumbent Tim Matthes versus Rob Putaansuu; (Council position 5) incumbent Cindy Lucarelli versus Marcus Lane; (PO Council, position 1) Shawn Cucciardi versus Keith Law; (Council position 4) incumbent John Clauson versus Nick Whittleton.

The number of contested council races grew from three to four last week, when Bill Christensen announced himself as a write-in candidate for the at-large position against Clancy Donlin. The editorial board has not yet had an interview with Donlin and Christensen. I’ll post an update, when we get the video.

Send me your questions for these candidates, as our Port Orchard election coverage continues in the run-up to the Nov. 3 general election, or find me on Facebook, — Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

PO Mayor: Matthes and Putaansuu

PO Council, position 5: Lucarelli and Lane

PO Council, position 1: Cucciardi and Law

PO council position 4: Clauson and Whittleton

Port Orchard, hauntings and such

I learned a lot about Port Orchard when I was working on our coverage advancing the city’s 125th anniversary celebration on Saturday.

See a listing of anniversary events planned for Saturday, by clicking here.

Back to my story research, I thought I knew the closest mayoral race in the town’s history. See if you know by taking our trivia quiz. I’ll give you a hint, it was not the 2011 race between then-incumbent Lary Coppola and now-incumbent Tim Matthes.

I also was amazed to find how many buildings in the city, especially in the downtown core, date to the first half of the 20th Century. PO125_9According to a map of historic buildings on the city of Port Orchard’s website, quite a number are from the ’oughts, ’teens and ’20s, and there’s even a few from the late 1800s. You can find out more about Port Orchard’s historic buildings at the Sidney Museum and Arts Association, which hosted its annual historic homes tour in July.

SMMA’s own building at the corner of Prospect and Sidney is an old Masonic hall dating to 1908, listed on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

Given the age of the architecture, it’s small wonder talk of ghosts bubbles up around the town. Rumor has it the Old Central Hotel building, now the Olde Central Antique Mall, is haunted.

Another restless spirit is reputed to live in the yard abutting Prospect Street that is part of the Olympic Bike & Skate property owned by Fred Karakas. According to local historian Bryan Petro, the property was homesteaded by a man named Campbell who married a Native American woman. When she and their two boys died of a fever, Campbell is said to have buried them on the homestead.

“That’s why nothing is built there,” Petro said. “We’ve been told that’s haunted. It’s probably by her.”

Karakas says the burial was on the property of the building next door, which he also owns. The building once housed a tarot card reader who got strong vibes from the place, Karakas said.

Well, isn’t that the way with history? There are sometimes multiple versions of a story. Karakas and Petro also disagree on the origin of the name “Fathoms ‘O Fun,” the organization that has hosted Port Orchard’s summer parade and Fourth of July fireworks show since the late 1960s.

According to Petro, 56, city leaders decided to ax the Days of ’49, a Wild West themed annual festival involving much boozing and debauchery. mockhangingThe festival was supposed the hearken back to the city’s rough and tumble logging days. Mock shoot-outs, stage scenery jails and pretend hangings on Bay Street were a few of the reasons the city curbed its enthusiasm in favor of a tamer summer celebration initially called Sunfest (or Sun Fest). Petro says that name was claimed by another community, and “Fathoms ‘O Fun” was the replacement.

Karakas, in his 70s, said he arrived in town shortly after the Days of ’49 ended. But the festival died an unwilling death, according to Karakas. The wild and crazy times lived on, if diminished, in the Dinghy Derby race, which involved fake cannon shots and again, considerable boozing, according to Karakas. The dinghy races were part of Sunfair (or Sun Fair) Karakas concedes, but as to the origin of Fathoms, it came from a Sunfair T-shirt, a motto of the year. The following year, there were leftover T-shirts, and the organizing committee, of which Karakas was part, just taped over the year and used them again. (This is very much Karakas’ modus operandi). Thus Fathoms ‘O Fun became ingrained in Port Orchard’s memory bank and history.

One other little piece of trivia from the odds and ends bin, do you know which downtown business operates in a building that used to house a brothel upstairs? Find the answer, and test your knowledge of Port Orchard’s legend and lore against the folks in this video.

See a timeline of Port Orchard’s history by clicking here.

Port Orchard’s longest-sitting public servant

If people taking our Port Orchard trivia quiz had trouble with the question on who was the longest-sitting public servant in city government, it’s understandable. The city’s had quite a few in recent years.

The trivia quiz, online now at, is part of our coverage of Port Orchard’s 125th anniversary. The city and community have a big celebration planned for Sept. 5. Check the Kitsap Sun on Sunday for a look back at Port Orchard’s history (it will help you on the trivia quiz) and a look forward at the celebration.

Now, to the question at hand.

Q: Who was Port Orchard’s longest sitting public official?
A. Carolyn Powers, city councilwoman
B. Leslie J. Weatherill, mayor
C. John Clauson, councilman
D. Bob Geiger, councilman

If you said, Bob Geiger, you’re correct.
Geiger, who served 45 years on the city council, was not only Port Orchard’s longest serving public official but the State of Washington’s when, in December, 2007, the mayor and council honored him for his service. Geiger had announced he would not seek another term.

Carolyn Powers, was appointed to the city council in 1987 to fill an unexpired term and served 26 years on the council before retiring at the end of 2013. She also served a term in the State House of Representatives.

Leslie J. Weatherill was Port Orchard’s longest serving mayor, holding the office from December 1983 through December 2003.

John Clauson, running for re-election this year, has served on the council since 1983, 32 years.

Happy birthday, Port Orchard!

Welcome to Pork Orchard

It started as a joke at a meeting last year of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

Clancy Donlin, a contractor who was chairing the Taste of Port Orchard 2014, asked Mayor Tim Matthes if they couldn’t change the name of the city for the day to Pork Orchard. Everybody laughed, then the subject of barbecue came up. Donlin, a self-described “crazy foodie” and barbecue aficionado, later was chatting with his friend Don Ryan (involved in the Port Orchard Public Market among other ventures) and they cooked up the idea (pun intended) of an event centered on barbecue.

Hog Fest 2015 is set for Sept. 20 on the Port Orchard waterfront, and will include a “competition, meat tastings, beer garden, root beer garden for kids, ALL DAY MUSIC with several bands, half-time events for kids and family, Hog Rally with (Harley riders), a professional butcher shows you how pork meat is cut into chops and more to come…,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Planning began last fall for the event, which is sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. The Port Orchard Bay Street Association is sponsoring Hog Fest and has put up the $5,000 in prize money, to be divvied up among contestants in various categories, Donlin said. The judging is double blind, with judges provided by the association, according to their website.

Sanctioning by the association means points for professional barbecue chefs, who compete at local events like Port Orchard’s Hog Fest 2015 to qualify for regional and national events. Like rodeo, only for meat. There will be an amateur division. More on that later.

The nonprofit PNWBA has a mission “to provide education about barbecue,” according to its website. The organization has about 700 members (one need not be a member to participate in sanctioned events) and hosts about 40 shindigs, like Hog Fest, each year, mostly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, California and western Canada, but sometimes farther afield. Top chefs and judges have participated in events such as the Jack Daniels World Invitational, The American Royal
and the Great American BBQ.

But back to Pork Orchard (has a nice ring, doesn’t it?). Organizers are inviting amateurs to preliminary “satellite” barbecue competitions, where they can qualify for Hog Fest itself. The first one is 10 a.m. Sunday at the Red Dog Saloon in Port Orchard. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Aug. 8: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Keyport; McCloud’s Grill House & Saloon
Aug. 9: New Way Vapors, Port Orchard
Aug. 15, Al’s Market, Olalla
Aug. 30, Wig Wam Pub, Gorst
Sept. 5, McCloud’s again
Sept. 12, The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, Bremerton

Hog Fest will start out small, compared to some of the other PNWBA-sanctioned events, Donlin said. They’re not going to go whole hog, so to speak. The thought being to keep it manageable the first year of what organizers hope will become a beloved Port Orchard tradition.

“With Hog Fest, combined with our other food events, the Chocolate Festival (held in November and sponsored by Fathoms ‘O Fun) and Taste of Port Orchard (held as part of the town’s Labor Day festivities), we plan to turn Port Orchard into the culinary capital of Kitsap County,” Donlin said.

And, yes, the event has been the butt of many jokes and puns, like “praise the lard,” a phrase on one Facebook post.

Oh, wait, I’ve got one, “Hog Fest, it’s nothing to swine about.”

Think you can do better? Of course you can! Have at it.

A Ride on the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway

The other day I took a ride on the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway … what there is of it.

The paved recreational path designed for walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists (but no cars) will extend from the foot ferry terminal in downtown Port Orchard to the Annapolis foot ferry terminal. City of Port Orchard officials say it will see plenty of use from locals and be a valuable amenity to draw visitors.

Planning for the pathway started more than five years ago. To date only two segments of the pathway have been built, and those do indeed see plenty of use. You’ll hear more about a third segment, construction on which is to start this summer, in a story Monday at The new segment will be a bridge at the mouth of Blackjack Creek that ties into the chunk of pathway behind Westbay Center.

Follow me on my ride as I set out from Annapolis. You’ll see how narrow the shoulder becomes almost immediately. Rounding the curve at Mitchell Point you’ll see the home of Randy Jones, owner of Venture Charters, who has fought the city’s plan to buy out property owners along the path for right-of-way. The city council has approved a redesign of the path that will have it go around any properties whose owners aren’t willing to sell. The city this month got $3.5 million from the state to complete construction of the Beach Drive part of the path.

You’ll see other homes as well, then the long stretch of Beach Drive …at low tide! Don’t I have great timing?

Riding on the Westbay segment was pure pleasure. Here the path (when completed) will continue over the bridge and along the waterfront behind Bruce Titus Ford and the Comfort Inn. You see I had to ride on the street with the traffic. The downtown segment picks up again by Marlee Apartments, and again it’s a smooth ride.

Here we go.

PO: City needs help designing a logo for 125th

The city of Port Orchard celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, with a Sept. 5 shindig in the works.

The city has issued a call-out to local artists and graphic designers — and anyone else who wants to have a go at it — to create a logo for the event. The logo will be used for banners, posters, souvenirs and the like. Unlike with the city’s wayfinding signs, no monetary award is involved, but, said Sharron King, who chairs the 125th planning committee, “The designer will be part of the continuing history of Port Orchard and celebrated along with the city at the closing ceremony.”

Entries (digital or hard copy) are due to city hall by 4 p.m. March 2. The committee will review them and pick a winner that week.

The committee is also looking for photos of the city from the last 125 years and for bits and pieces you might have about the city’s history. Photos and other submissions may be used on the city’s website, Facebook page or in advertising of the event. Submit anything you have to

Matthes considering another run for mayor

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes is considering running again for the office in this year’s election.

Matthes, elected in 2011, will complete his first four-year term at the end of 2015.

“Right now my health is fine,” said Matthes, 68. “If it stays that way, I’ll be making a decision early in the year.”

Matthes said he doesn’t want there to be a lot of “drama” over speculation about whether he will or won’t run. His comments came up during an interview for our story about Gil Michael, longtime planning commissioner, who died Dec. 27. Matthes served with Michael on the commission before he (Matthes) won the election over then-incumbent Lary Coppola in a razor thin race.

Matthes, during our recent talk, said he initially was motivated to run for the office because of concerns over the potential cost of the Tremont widening project.

As interested as Michael was in city government, I think it’s fair to say many wonder why he never ran for mayor. Matthes on Monday said he asked Michael in 2011 to put himself up as a candidate, before he (Matthes) made the decision to throw his own hat into the ring.

“He absolutely said ‘no way,'” Matthes said. “Gil didn’t really like the limelight.”
Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 5.46.44 PM
Matthes said his decision this time around on whether to run for mayor will be partly based on who else is interested. Right now he’s being careful to say he’s only “considering” running again, because a formal declaration of candidacy will require filing with the Public Disclosure Commission, a step he’s not quite ready to take yet.

NYT article focuses on Port Orchard man

Several people on Facebook have mentioned a New York Times article about Doug Whitney, a Port Orchard man who has a gene mutation that (in most people) causes early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Whitney, 65, has yet to show symptoms, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Whitney’s mother and nine of her siblings, as well as Whitney’s older brother died of the disease. All began showing symptoms in their 40s.

“So Mr. Whitney has become Exhibit A in a new direction in genetics research. After years of looking for mutations that cause diseases, investigators are now searching for those that prevent them,” the article states.

The idea of beneficial gene mutations is getting plenty of attention from the scientific community.

Two Seattle researchers have started “The Resilience Project,” drawing on large databases to find people, like Whitney, who seem to have protective genes. They found Whitney after contacting Washington University (in St. Louis), where a study is under way of families with a gene, presenilin, that causes early Alzheimer’s. Whitney joined the study in 2011.

Whitney deferred getting tested for the Alzheimer’s causing gene until he turned 62. Other researchers have contacted him, as well, and Whitney, for his part, is happy to contribute to advancing knowledge of Alzheimer’s, the article states.

So, question for readers: If, based on the medical history of family members, you knew you might have a disease-causing genetic mutation, would you get tested and when?