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Mayor to Matthes: Don't screw it up

Mayor Lary Coppola presided over the final City Council meeting of his term in office Tuesday night. - Brett Cihon/Staff photo
Mayor Lary Coppola presided over the final City Council meeting of his term in office Tuesday night.
— image credit: Brett Cihon/Staff photo

Presiding at his last City Council meeting as Port Orchard’s mayor, Lary Coppola ended the evening with a blunt directive to his successor seated in the audience.

After summarizing how the city’s financial condition was strengthened during his term, the outgoing mayor told mayor-elect Tim Matthes: “Don’t screw it up.”

The last council meeting of the year began with a presentation of plaques recognizing Coppola and outgoing Councilman Fred Olin, who did not run for re-election, for their service to the city the past four years.

When John Clauson, the longest-serving member on the City Council, presented Coppola his plaque, he noted, “I’ve had the good fortune of working with four different mayors, and it’s really been a pleasure working with you.”

The council members and the audience rose to give Coppola a standing ovation.

When he gave his final mayor’s report to conclude the meeting, he thanked the council members for their support and “for the recognition this evening. It was unexpected, and I’m truly touched.”

When Olin addressed his colleagues after receiving his plaque, he expressed appreciation for being part of a collegial group.

“I think more than anything else, we’ve gotten along so well,” Olin said. “We haven’t always agreed, but we got along. And it hasn’t always been that way.”

In a confusing sequence of events leading up to Tuesday’s session, Matthes had asked to take his oath of office at the meeting, and when his request was denied he asked City Clerk Patty Kirkpatrick to administer the oath, which she did Monday in her office at City Hall.

But a do-over will be necessary because state law requires newly elected public officials to take the oath within 10 days of when their term in office begins Jan. 1, unless it is done at the last City Council meeting before they take office, which would have been Tuesday night.

The swearing-in for Matthes has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 27 at 10 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall, Kirkpatrick said Tuesday.

She said the oath of office for Cindy Lucarelli, who will succeed Olin, and the City Council’s three re-elected incumbents — Jerry Childs, Clauson and Jim Colebank  — will be scheduled for sometime between Dec. 22 and Dec. 31.

After Tuesday night’s meeting, Matthes said “there was just a lot of confusion” about when he could take his oath of office.

“Now that we know what the law says, that it has to be within 10 days (of Jan. 1), that’s when it’s going to happen,” he said.

At the end of his closing remarks, Coppola spoke directly to Matthes, who won the mayor’s race by five votes after an acrimonious and divisive campaign.

Coppola said he was “very surprised you haven’t called me to discuss any transitional issues,” and noted that it wasn’t until Monday that Matthes contacted the city clerk to schedule a meeting.

“I’m handing over to you a city that’s in solid financial shape, which it wasn’t when I was elected,” Coppola said.

Perhaps intending to caution the incoming mayor against making any personnel changes, Coppola said Port Orchard has “what is recognized by just about every other elected official in this county and many others around the state as the best staff of any local city.”

He went on to note the city has maintained a balanced budget in difficult economic times without laying off employees or cutting services, and that city offices are still open five days a week.

“I’m proud of that,” he said, looking out from the seat Matthes soon will occupy. “Don’t screw it up.”

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