Tag Archives: Tim Matthes

The Coppola-Matthes race dissected

Before we relegate the 2011 Port Orchard mayor’s race to the category of “water over the dam,” I will take one last whack at the question of whether negative campaign ads contributed to Tim Matthes’ 5-vote victory over incumbent Lary Coppola.
Coppola came into the home stretch of his campaign with a track record of accomplishments the city has made on his watch, a long list of endorsements from business owners, community leaders and other elected officials, and substantial campaign funding.
Coppola raised and spent nearly $15,000, about three times as much as Matthes.
Matthes’ campaign contributions, most of which came as loans to himself, were below the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s $5,000 threshold for detailed reporting, available on the PDC’s website.
An anti-Coppola campaign mounted by People for a Better Port Orchard raised and spent just more than $2,800 on mailers designed to erode Coppola’s credibility.
One flier suggested Coppola exaggerated his role in reducing the city’s crime rate. Another criticized the mayor for requesting (and getting) more than the city had offered for a piece of property he owned on Tremont Street that is to be condemned.
The same flier bemoaned a water rate increase hammered out on Coppola’s watch and slammed the mayor for suggesting to the council early on in his term that the mayor’s position should be full-time, with commensurate compensation.
The council, excepting Fred Chang, agreed. Chang supported the concept of a full-time mayor but said the timing was off given the recession. Chang, head of the lodging tax advisory committee, also objected to the plan at the time to partially fund the increase with hotel-motel tax revenue, which is earmarked for tourism. Chang called the proposal “awkward, although it probably is legal.”
All other council members, except Fred Olin who was absent, voted for the change, which effectively tripled Coppola’s salary.
Although he had no direct say it the matter, and although the new salary was about equivalent to what the Mayor of Poulsbo makes, it created negative PR that has stuck to Coppola’s shoe throughout his term in office.
“He suggested it,” said Nancy Howson, a Matthes supporter. “I didn’t feel good about that. So many people are struggling. I just thought the timing was bad.”
P4P cited their sources, including local news publications and Port Orchard Police Department reports, with links on their website, www.letlarygo.com.
As the fliers came out, Matthes distanced himself from P4P, saying he had neither known of nor condoned their efforts.
Chang was the largest donor among the largest donors to the anti-Coppola group, giving a total of $500. Also donating $500 were Jon Yamamura and Steve Sego, who lists his address as the residence owned by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Coreen Haydock Johnson.
Donating $250 was Gil Michael, whom Matthes called “my right-hand guy” on Dec. 6, the night his victory was confirmed.
Chang and Michael also donated directly to Matthes’ campaign. Chang gave $167 of in-kind goods or services. Michael gave $250.
Matthes, on his campaign website, made a point of saying he discouraged endorsements and large campaign contributions that could make a candidate beholden to interest groups, large corporations or people who live outside the city. He had a self-imposed contribution limit of $200 for individuals and $500 for organizations.
“My Grandmother Sylvia always said, ‘If you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised if you get up with fleas,’” Matthes wrote in a statement about campaign contributions on his website. “Check out candidates’ websites to see if you can tell who will be given special favors in the future.”
Whether Matthes realized it or not, the literal effect of his limiting campaign contributions and his denial of affiliation with P4P allowed both his campaign and the anti-Coppola group to fly under the radar so to speak.
Had either group raised more than $5,000, detailed records of their contributors and expenditures would have been readily available throughout the campaign on the Washington Public Disclosure Commission’s website.
As it was, the law provided for access to those records as follows: anyone interested could contact the campaign or group in person during the eight business days preceding the election.
All perfectly legal, but the effect, it seemed, was to fuel a rumor mill that turned toxic in the last few weeks of the campaign.
According to Lori Anderson of the PDC, Port Orchard was one of several places around the state where in-person records reviews resulted in ugly confrontations.
Anderson said word trickled down to the PDC that Coppola’s wife Dee was firmly asked to leave the premises of the printing company used by P4P.
And so it went in a race that has driven a wedge between two former allies.
Whether the fliers had any substantive effect on the race remains open to debate.
Significantly, Coppola lost votes in 2011 in the city’s four original precincts (earning 810 votes total), as compared with the support he received in 2007 (1,103 votes), when there was a far smaller turnout.
Voters in McCormick Woods, the city’s newest neighborhood, helped make up the difference (620 votes total in 2011). But it wasn’t enough.
Coppola disparaged the P4P fliers, calling their content “blatant lies.”
Anderson, to whom I sent copies of the fliers, couldn’t comment on Coppola’s assertion. The PDC would dig down into the weeds only if a formal complaint against P4P were filed, which hasn’t happened to date, she said.
A civil suit for damages would be a separate option open to anyone who believes campaign materials have crossed the threshold of the state’s prohibition against materials that are “false,” “libelous” or “defamatory,” Anderson added.
The upshot of any challenge would not change the outcome of the election, Anderson said.
Incidentally, in 2007 the state’s Supreme Court found Washington State’s law prohibiting false political advertising to be unconstitutional. The decision pertained to the case that pitted former Green Party candidate Marylou Rickert of Shelton against the PDC, which fined her $1,000 after deciding she deliberately made false statements about the voting record of state Sen. Tim Sheldon in his 2002 re-election campaign.
The 2009 Legislature reasserted the state’s right to ban false political advertising, but added the provisions that it must be “libelous” or “defamatory,” apparently to mollify free speech advocates. The PDC hasn’t received any complaints about false ads since the 2009 law, Anderson said.
The transition of power at city hall — or lack thereof — has been painful to watch, with public jabs and parting shots from both camps.
I know I’m arriving a little late to this party — weighing in at the 11th hour as it were — but I think it’s safe to say that Port Orchard is ready to move on.
Larry Stokes, who supported Matthes but considers himself a friend of both candidates, put it this way:
“I think we’re lucky we got them both. I would hope Tim and Lary bury the hatchet and Tim relies on him for some advice and so forth and so on, and we all live happily ever after in Port Orchard.

More P4P docs here and here.

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. “

More on mayoral recount and some elections trivia

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





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.”

Hand recount likely in Port Orchard mayor’s race

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
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