City council races finalize
June 11, 2009 · Updated 3:54 PM
This year’s Port Orchard City Council races could leave the council unchanged, or with up to three new members.
The only certainty is that Jerry Childs, who fills the at-large seat, will serve a second term.
“I hope we can continue to work together,” Childs said. “I hope we can continue down the road toward revitalization of the town.”
Childs was elected in 2007 along with two others, who defeated incumbents.
Mayor Lary Coppola was also elected that year, creating a council that has earned a reputation for being less contentious than the one it replaced.
“I don’t think we had a lot of challengers this year because people are generally happy with what we’re doing,” Coppola said.
At the filing deadline, Childs was in New York City preparing to attend a performance of “Mamma Mia” on Broadway with his wife, Kitsap Bank VP Shannon Childs.
She noticed the time and decided to log on to the county auditor’s web site to read the filings.
He told her he wanted to stay ignorant of the results, and “didn’t want to ruin my vacation” by learning that he had to run in a primary.
She got the information and ignored his wishes, telling him he had drawn no opposition and that he would be automatically re-elected.
“My first reaction was positive,” Childs said. “But then I had a melancholy sense, that I won’t be part of the discussion. I think that a lot of positive things happening in the city today originated from the candidate discussions when I ran two years ago. This year I won’t be invited to the forums, and I won’t get to participate.
“I didn’t run to win,” he said. “I ran to make a difference. If my voice isn’t being heard then I won’t make that difference.”
While Childs was enjoying the play, former Councilman Rick Wyatt was watching his grandchildren’s high school graduation. Wyatt had filed his candidacy at nearly the last minute, arriving at the Auditors’ Office 30 minutes before closing.
Wyatt, who was defeated for re-election in 2007 by Fred Olin, chose to run against Position 3 City Councilman Rob Putaansuu, who was appointed to the position and has yet to run in an opposed election.
“I feel with the economy with the way it is and people losing their jobs, we want to be very careful what we do with the citizens’ money,” Wyatt said shortly after filing. “I want to make sure that the money is protected during this period of growth.”
Wyatt said his work on the council set the stage for the annexations that are now in progress and that Mayor Lary Coppola is providing good leadership for this growth.
“I said a long time ago that we should annex to the limits of the Urban Growth Area,” he said. “At the time, there wasn’t a lot of support for the idea. I want to make sure we don’t get in over our heads with these annexations, because the average person doesn’t think in terms of dollars
Another candidate, Port Orchard businesswoman Tristan Benz, began to file her declaration of candidacy after Wyatt left, asking the elections staff which seats were open.
She was told that Childs was unopposed but chose to challenge Putaansuu “because three is my lucky number.”
Benz was not able to complete the filing process, however, because the staff determined that she lives outside of the city limits and was ineligible to serve on the council.
“It turns out I’m geographically challenged,” she said. “I was really looking to get involved.”
Benz said she was speaking for the people who were “sitting on their couches grumbling about how nobody is running against these people. That’s exactly what I was looking to do.”
If Benz had successfully filed her candidacy papers it would have forced the only primary contest in this year’s council races.
Elections supervisor Dolores Gilmore said this would not have changed the cost of the election, since there is already a contested school board race in the South Kitsap area.
Aside from Childs and Putaansuu, two council races have fall challengers.
Fred Chang is running for a second term against local restaurateur Amy Igloi Matsuno, who is making her first bid for elected office.
Carolyn Powers, who has been on the council since 1988, is facing a challenge from Cindy Lucarelli, who came close to defeating another long term incumbent, John Clauson, in 2007.
Lucarelli and Childs are working together in the preparation of Cedar Cove Days, which is to take place in August, which they feel is the next step in building Port Orchard’s nationwide reputation.
“We have people coming from 31 states for this,” Childs said. “There is no other event in the state that can make that claim.”