Meet the Candidates: PO City Council

Update 3:15 p.m. Aug. 8:
Incorrect information on candidate Jerry Child’s employment was given in an article on the Port Orchard City Council primary race. Childs is the captain of Ladder 3 actively working a rescue unit/ladder truck fighting fire in the Seattle Central District. He has lived in Kitsap County 17 years.

Also to clarify Child’s position on downtown development, he says, “I am for downtown
revitalization with character and style that can make us all proud. I am not against redevelopment and support those who want to do so. I just think the council needs to put in place a plan (the DOD is NOT a redevelopment plan, but a series of zoning changes) complete with artist renderings of how the town might look and one that will shape our city and give us consistency that will attract business and visitors alike. We then need to prepare a list of infrastructure weaknesses, and important needs—such as money for improvements to our downtown storm water and electrical delivery systems and money for a parking garage – and then go get state/federal funds through the
grant writing process. ”

***end of update********

Three candidates are contending for the at-large seat on the Port Orchard City Council to be vacated in 2008 by long-time member Bob Geiger. Geiger, who has served on the council for 45 years, said in the spring he’s finally had enough.
Geiger’s is one of five positions up for grabs on the seven-member council. Only one race will be uncontested, as incumbent Rob Putaansuu seeks to hold onto his seat. Only the race for Geiger’s seat will go to the primary.
The city council has been wrestling with one another for the past year over a proposed downtown development plan that has yet to be adopted, and the issue of the council’s efficiency figured prominently at a Kitsap Sun editorial board meeting with the three primary candidates last month.


Jerry Childs
Candidate Jerry Childs calls what’s ailing the city council “analysis paralysis.” He would jump start council meetings by providing firm direction.
“I’m a leader,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I know more than anything else, but I know how to rally people around.”
Childs, a former Seattle resident who moved from Bainbridge Island to Port Orchard two years ago, said there are a few “leaders” on the current council who “dominate” the proceedings. He would try to get the whole council “working cooperatively.”
As co-founder of a local neighborhood association and the owner of a home above Port Orchard’s downtown core, Childs has challenged the council on the issue of building heights, and commercial development versus residents’ rights.
Childs said the main issues facing the City of Port Orchard, along with streamlining the government process, are downtown revitalization, annexation and public safety.
“I believe Port Orchard is at a pivotal point in our history, where we have the opportunity to re-define who we are and emerge as a charming, vibrant waterfront town that people will love to visit. Or we can continue down our present path to, I believe, mediocrity.”
Childs has been a firefighter for 40 years and was a captain with the Seattle Fire Department for more than 25 years. He has continued in administrative positions with the fire department, and expects to retire in January. Childs was awarded a medal of bravery for his role in fighting the infamous Pang Warehouse Fire in Seattle that claimed the life of Port Orchard’s Jim Brown.
Dennis Goss
“Boring, repetitive and slow,” is how candidate Dennis Goss describes current city council meetings.
“I like to see things get done,” said Goss, an attorney by trade who ran for a council seat two years ago. “I know how to cut through the fat, no nonsense, no bull.”
Despite his bullish personna, Goss said, he believes in building consensus through relationships. He said his background in construction law would serve the citizens well were he elected to the council.
“I have development experience and will not hesitate to seek financial assistance both locally and federally for our benefit,” Goss said.
Port Orchard’s biggest problem, said Goss, is lack of revenue, and the answer is annexation.
“We need to grab McCormick Woods as fast as possible. We need to grab Mile Hill Drive as fast as possible. We need to bring in Olalla as fast as possible,” Goss said. “It’s time to annex and bring in people who feel they’re part of the city.”
Expanding Port Orchard’s boundaries would not only add to the city’s coffers, Goss said, “By becoming a larger city, we become a larger player at the table (of local government).”
Goss and his wife have three sons, all of whom graduated from South Kitsap High School. He has lived in Port Orchard since January, 2000.
Dick Fitzwater
Dick Fitzwater is a Bremerton native who has lived in Port Orchard since 1991. A former manager of Karcher Creek Sewer District, Fitzwater said his familiarity with local government entities has prepared him well for service on the city council.
“I know how to analyze problems, achieve consensus, work with other government agencies, and make important decisions,” said Fitzwater.
Like the other candidates, Fitzwater is frustrated with the dynamics of the council.
“They’ve over-analyzed everything,” he said. “They just need to get off the dime and make a decision and stick with it.
“Since 2004, the city council has lost its cohesiveness and ability to make important decisions in a timely manner,” Fitzwater said. “A major priority for me would be to work with the other council members without any personal agendas to identify major issues and to develop solutions to prepare us for the future.”
Fitzwater said the council needs to agree on goals and set the policies to allow city staff to achieve them. City officials needs to “trust staff,” he said.
Fitzwater sees downtown Port Orchard for the port that it is, and he would like to see the marina upgraded.

2 thoughts on “Meet the Candidates: PO City Council

  1. Goss suggests annexing areas that are essentially residential developments, and says it would increase the city’s tax revenues.

    But, without commercial and industrial development to add to the tax base, the revenue increase wouldn’t improve the fiscal picture. The cost of providing services to the new residents would be roughly equal to (or perhaps more than) the added revenue.

    Has he looked at a map of the city limits? Port Orchard has already engulfed virtually all commercial areas within its reach — while niftily avoiding most of the residential areas.

    Of course, I don’t get to vote in the city’s elections — not being in the city — but what would lead me to vote in favor of annexation? Would Port Orchard, for example, repeal and forever forget its silly rules about cutting trees? When I decide a tree on my property ought to go, I don’t want to have to say “Mother, may I” to some intermeddling city officials.

    Since Port Orchard already shed its fire protection duties — thereby nearly doubling the amount of its property tax revenue in the past few years — what would make anyone want to be annexed into the city? What is to be gained, other than higher taxes?

  2. Beware the land-grabbers, they’ll bankrupt your little city.

    Residential annexations usually result in negative revenues–they cost more in services than they contribute in taxes. That is why past annexations have gerrymandered around residential areas to “grab” car dealerships, movie theaters and shopping malls.

    Some of us live outside the City boundaries deliberately and would like to stay out of your circus, thank you. Annex us unwillingly and we will become your worst nightmare.

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