Controversy dogs both Michael, Geiger

Gil Michael said he decided to run for the Port Orchard City Council because he was tired of things not getting done.

And Michael is used to getting things done. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and a small business owner, Michael has served nine years on the Port Orchard Planning Commission, a body that hears building and planning issues and recommends decisions to the Council. He has chaired the commission for the past two years.

After years of attending council meetings and going through the city’s permitting process to build his dream business, a bed-and-breakfast, Michael decided to run against longtime Councilman Bob Geiger for the council’s at-large position.

“In a campaign, what a candidate says is made to be as neutral as possible,” Michael said, while pointing out several issues on which he said he’d take a stand.

“If you look at my record, memos I’ve written, decisions I’ve made, the things I’ve said — they verify what my positions on the issues are,” Michael said.

Michael, as one would expect, is an authority on city planning and building. He said he supports the revitalization plan developed for downtown by the Seattle consultant EDAW and thinks Port Orchard should focus on simplifying the permit process and smart annexation.

“The main difference (between Geiger and me) is that I believe our codes and ordinances, our revitalization and how we annex needs to be goal-oriented instead of reactionary,” Michael said.

However, Geiger has experience on his side and he said he believes his experience and dedication to Port Orchard speaks for itself.

A councilman for more than four decades, Geiger said he decided to let this race play out without spending a lot on advertising and scheduling public appearances.

He knows who his supporters are and doesn’t try to sway those who don’t support him.

“There were so many people pressuring me to do so,” Geiger said of his original filing, “and in a moment of weakness, I finally decided to file.”

Geiger remains philosophical about his chances of winning against Michael.

“It’s up to the people, as always,” Geiger said. “If they prefer one or the other, that’s who they prefer and that’s who they’ll vote for.”

But as the race has heated, controversy has simmered over for both candidates.

In a letter to the city council, fellow council candidate Melode Sapp called for Michael’s resignation from the Planning Commission, citing the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Geiger, meanwhie, was asked to remove a political message from his downtown movie theater marquee due to the fact that the marquee hangs on a more infamous marquee owned by the city.

City law prevents any political sign to be placed on city property. Geiger complied, but the matter has yet to be fully settled.

Michael remains nonplussed and said he is excited for the outcome of the race.

“It’s be nice if the campaign could be run on the issues,” Michael said.

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