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Campaign signs crop up downtown

Off the Wagon Antique Market owner Kelly Berg posts signs from opposing city council candidates. - Charlie Bermant
Off the Wagon Antique Market owner Kelly Berg posts signs from opposing city council candidates.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

With city council races in full swing downtown merchants are expressing themselves by posting window signs in their shops, but their support of the specific candidate isn't always a strong commitment.

While Carolyn Powers and Cindy Lucarelli are gaining visibility, most of the sign activity shows a preference for Fred Chang or Amy Igloi Matsuno, who are facing off for the Position 6 seat.

“I like both Fred and Amy as people,” said Kelly Berg, who operates the Off the Wagon Antique Market. “They both have common goals, which is for the good of Port Orchard. They want to see things progress.”

Berg’s solution is to place Chang and Matsuno's signs side by side. Even if this dilutes the preference, she feels that is the only option aside from not allowing signs at all. She hosts eight different dealers, and does not want to speak for them. And there is the chance that a customer who dislikes a certain candidate will take their business elsewhere.

Ross Wigley of Bay Street Books has declined to post any signs this year. He attempted to take the same stand in 2007, but was asked by the landlord to place one candidate’s sign in his window. The opponent, who was previously told that Wigley would not post any signs, was offended.

Wigley offers a variety of books across the ideological spectrum but does not advertise his own leanings. “I can’t afford to alienate anyone who might buy a book.”

While a majority of merchants have not posted signs there are some who are passionate about their choices.

“I really like Amy,” said Fred Karakas, owner of the Olympic Bike Shop. “She came in here and asked if she could put up a sign and then crawled over the bikes to put it in herself. That showed me that she gets things done, and doesn’t wait for other people to do it for her.”

“Fred is the only council member who has come in and asked about my concerns,” said Josh Zetzche, proprietor of Juwapa’s Juice Bar. “He is informed about the issues that matter to me.”

“There aren’t a lot of women running for office,” said Bead Shop owner Cindy Carroll. “I believe in what Amy wants for downtown, which is to make it a better place and get rid of all the bail bondsmen.”

(Matsuno said her goal was to “attract the right businesses” to downtown and was not directly criticizing bail bondsmen.)

“Fred is willing to ask the tough questions,” said Sugardaddys’ Tim Waibel. “He has no other motives, and is not using this office as a stepping stone. He is someone who cares about the city.”

Waibel said his support of Chang is a preference that isn’t necessarily a criticism of Matsuno.

“I am not voting against Amy,” Waibel said. “If she wasn’t running against Fred I would vote for her.”

Wigley said he is keeping his windows clear, and has not yet made up his mind about the election.

“I went onto Amy’s website but it really didn’t say anything,” he said. “It was all platitudes. But when I went to Fred’s to compare his point of view I couldn't get on the page at all.”

Wigley said that money spent by the candidate downtown at their shops should not buy a merchant’s support, although he said “I think that every council member should spend $5 a year in each downtown business, just so they know what’s available.”

Several of the merchants live outside the city limits, but use their window to express their preferences. As a downtown merchant they are affected by council decisions.

“I have a voice even if I don’t have a vote,” Karakas said.

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