City makes recent history with four contested races

After the dust settled last week and Port Orchard residents got a clear view of who will be participating in November’s four city council races, questions arose regarding the history of heated contests in the city.

Not only are all four races contested this year, but two have three candidates facing off.

In 2001, seven candidates ran for city office, and that was a significant increase from the election before it. Residents will select from 10 candidates in November.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers will defend her seat against local attorney Dennis Xavier Goss. Incumbent Councilman Todd Cramer faces Melode Sapp, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, and Tye Moore.

Councilmember Bob Geiger filed for re-election on Friday and will be running against Port Orchard Planning Commission Chair Gil Michael for the council’s at-large position.

Councilmember Ron Rider also filed for re-election Friday. He will defend his seat against former Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill and Port Orchard Planning Commissioner Fred Chang.

Have there ever been four such heavily contested races?

“Not in my memory,” said former Port Orchard City Councilman Tom Stansbery. “Usually, you couldn’t give those seats away.”

Geiger agreed.

“I don’t think it’s ever happened,” Geiger said. “Probably not. A lot of times it seemed nobody wanted to come out of the woodwork.”

A quick check by the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office showed that there has not been four contested Council races at least as far back as 1990, 15 years ago. A more extensive search is underway.

Online records date back six years.

In 1999, Don Morrison, and current Councilmembers Rick Wyatt and John Clauson ran uncontested for four-year terms. Councilmember Bob Geiger also ran uncontested, but for the at-large, two-year term.

In 2001, Councilmember Todd Cramer ran against Tom Stansbery, Councilman Ron Rider ran against Warren Van Zee and Councilmember Carolyn Powers ran against Marna Snow.

Geiger ran uncontested for the at-large position.

In the last election, November of 2003, Councilmembers Rita DiIenno, John Clauson and Rick Wyatt all ran uncontested for four-year terms, DiIenno replacing Morrison who chose not to run again.

Geiger faced Ron Rice for the at-large, two-year term.

“I think it’s good that’s there’s so many people running,” said Councilmember Rita DiIenno. “I would much prefer there be competition and interest and I’m excited there’s so much competition and interest.”

DiIenno said she believes the recent turnout is in direct response to the stalemate the public now sees in the Council.

“This will really be the race between the past and the future,” DiIenno said.

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