Three mayoral candidates, three backgrounds

Port Orchard residents will vote in a new mayor this year. With Mayor Kim Abel not seeking a second term, the city will bring one new face into City Hall.

Below are profiles of each candidate, listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Lary Coppola

Lary Coppola came to Port Orchard in 1975. On April 1, 1979, Coppola founded the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, and since then continued to produce it and other publications, including Remodel Kitsap and the Kitsap Peninsula Builder.

With a background in business and housing, Coppola might lead his campaign talking about hot topics such as the Downtown Overlay District and the redevelopment of Port Orchard.

But instead his lead platform is crime. Coppola cites Port Orchard’s violent crime rating — sixth in the state, up from three years ago when it was in the bottom 20 — but his concern also has a personal angle.

Coppola and his wife Dee have custody of their 3-year-old grandson, whose parents are in jail for methamphetamine use.

“At 56 years old, raising a 3-year-old was not my life plan,” Coppola said.

Coppola doesn’t regret it. He enjoys life with his grandson. But as mayor, he wants to beef up the police department, which he said operates with one hand tied behind its back.

“I want the police department to have the tools they need to do their job,” Coppola said.

That could include more funds, or even a statute pushing drug users out of Port Orchard residencies. Coppola wants to send the message, if “you want to do meth, go somewhere else.”

On revitalizing downtown, Coppola wants to hit the ground running. He’s already meeting with the owner of six buildings downtown, Mansour Samadpour, and is planning how to draw more businesses in.

It starts, he explains, with a grocery store and a marine supply store.

Those would be the cornerstone items that pull people in, and attract more business.

The previous mayor, Kim Abel, often put up to 60 hours per week into the position, which only pays $18,000. Coppola thinks the position can remain part-time with the right oversight and delegation.

At the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, Coppola said he delegates work to people he trusts.

“I am blessed with just great people here,” Coppola said, hoping to continue that trend if he wins. “That’s what I think I’ll bring to City Hall.”

Kathleen Dolan-Bowes

Kathleen Dolan-Bowes has a background in counseling. She has worked as a counselor at Olympic College, as a bailiff and holds a masters degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.

She originally came from New York, where her parents operated a candy shop. The shop succeeded because it was unique, she explained.

With a little work, Dolan-Bowes believes Port Orchard can be just as unique.

Her concern for Port Orchard stems from downtown buildings that remain empty, namely six owned by Samadpour, president of IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park.

At debates, Dolan-Bowes has asked how this happened, and what does Samadpour want to do with the buildings.

“I have absolutely nothing against this man,” Dolan-Bowes said. But she wants to see Port Orchard plan what it wants to be, and have the businesses and building owners participate.

“In order to get things done, we need to get some quick decision as to what is going to happen,” Dolan-Bowes said, referring to the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce meeting featuring Leavenworth Mayor Melvin Wyles.

Wyles urged Port Orchard to make a plan, and support it wholly as a community.

Dolan-Bowes wants a quick decision to push downtown from looking like a crime scene, to looking like a unique destination.

“We don’t have that right now,” Dolan-Bowes said. “We have buildings that are boarded, we have businesses that are dying.”

But the canvass for tomorrow’s Port Orchard is there and waiting.

“We have a beauty that is unbelievable,” Dolan-Bowes said.

Responding to publications about her exit from Olympic College, Dolan-Bowes offered a prepared statement, putting the event behind her.

“Allegations are like phantoms,” she wrote. “They are out there, but you can’t see them or know when they will hit. No one is immune to the onslaught of them or the destruction they cause. They are hard to fight, especially if you do not know where they originated and why. I fought such phantoms 11 years ago — it led to a three-year long legal battle. After it was resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, I moved on. I was never charged with any criminal offenses, my Washington state counseling license remains intact and active. I retired from a successful counseling career. I am finished with this issue and putting it to rest, if others cannot, that is their problem.”

Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders is a new face to the political scene. He has been a longtime member of the Port Orchard Kiwanis Club, for which he now serves as lieutenant governor for Division 36, but this year enters the electoral arena.

“I’ve never been involved in politics before,” Saunders said.

He considered running for the City Council, but a combination of few candidates and personal desire led him to the mayoral race.

“The more I got thinking about it, the more I wanted to be mayor,” he said.

His decision to run came when Coppola remained unopposed early in the application process.

“I didn’t feel that anybody should run unopposed,” he said. “I don’t believe in that. They should have some opposition.”

His primary motivation came from a love for Port Orchard.

“I don’t like the word ‘passion’,” Saunders said. “I don’t know what the right word is — I really want to see Port Orchard grow.”

Saunders brings years of experience as a disaster assistance employee (DAE) and a housing manager with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). As housing manager, he oversaw 30 to 40 DAEs at specific disaster sites across the country.

After working for FEMA, Saunders began doing housing appraisals independently around Kitsap County.

He cites his management over a large staff with FEMA as a strong asset to City Hall.

If elected, he plans to first examine City Hall and determine what is most needed. He said the position can remain part-time, delegating authority to the right people.

He wants to collect the information, and determine the need for the city. He said this is the quality he can bring to the seat.

“I think its that I have the ability to listen to people and listen to what they want,” Saunders said.

In recent City Council meetings and when doorbelling, Saunders has heard concerns that Port Orchard will drastically change. He hopes to keep buildings at a reasonable height, and guide development properly.

“Hopefully, it’s not going to change as drastically as they think it is,” he said.

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