City council race heats up
September 24, 2009 · Updated 3:04 PM
Only two of the four Port Orchard City Council seats drew any challenges this year, with the Position 6 contest between incumbent Fred Chang and challenger Amy Igloi-Matusuno generating the most attention.
Chang, 50, is finishing his first term on the council where he has earned a reputation for bringing forth details that are otherwise skipped over by other members.
These details often prompt him to cast dissenting votes against the council majority, and the wishes of Mayor Lary Coppola.
Igloi-Matsuno, 28, who opened her successful downtown restaurant three years ago, is taking her first shot at elected office. She has served on volunteer committees and offered her fund-raising services to a variety of local causes--all while earning a graduate business degree.
In two separate interviews, Chang and Igloi-Matsuno discussed their reasons for running, their differences and what they hope to accomplish for the city. The following is an edited representation of those conversations.
Port Orchard Independent: Why are you running?
Igloi-Matsuno: The city is going in a good direction and I want to be part of that change. Small business owners provide the backbone of the economy, and we don’t have a small business owner on the council. I know what it’s like to operate a small business and the challenges it faces. I understand what it means to look at an income statement. If the business doesn’t do well I don't do well. If we don’t make money we don’t get paid.
Fred Chang: A lot of people run with specific goals in mind, with things they are trying to accomplish. I don’t have specific goals, but I want to be able to add to the discussion. When I ran in 2005, none of our meetings were broadcast on BKAT, now they are. I’d like to broadcast our study sessions as well.
Chang: There is a lot of information that people need to hear, that isn’t making it out of the study sessions. There are issues, like parking, that need to be discussed, that can end up on the consent agenda with no public input. A lot of times the real discussions are in the committee, and if you get three members of a committee to agree on something before the meeting then you only need to pick up one more vote for it to pass.
POI: So if someone wants to influence an issue they need to attend the committee meetings?
Chang: I think so.
POI: Why did you pick Fred to run against of the four open seats?
Igloi-Matsuno: I don’t want to talk about Fred. I want talk about my own assets and abilities.
POI: Which are what?
Igloi-Matsuno: I am a young entrepreneur with a fresh perspective on the city. I run a successful business and can be an ambassador for the city, and to meet its potential when the economy returns. We need to get more private businesses, because medium-sized businesses tend to do well here.
POI: Why do you think Amy chose to run against you, of the four incumbents?
Chang: She’s a close friend of the mayor, and it’s no secret that I am not his favorite council member. The mayor still says he is not endorsing Amy, but everyone knows the truth. (Dee Coppola) is on the campaign and Wet Apple (Coppola’s company) is handling her reporting and is helping her on her campaign. I don’t have any help with my paperwork; I do it all myself.
POI: How close are you to the mayor? Does he support your campaign?
Igloi-Matsuno: He is not part of the campaign. We talk about issues. He is available to me in the same way that he is available to anyone else, as a resource.
POI: So he is available to you in the same way he is available to Fred.
Chang: That’s not true. Lary doesn’t give me any advice.
POI: What is the difference between you and your opponent?
Igloi-Matsuno: I don’t want to talk about Fred.
Chang: I believe that I am an independent thinker on the council. I stand out in that way. I am not afraid to express my opinion and vote accordingly. I haven’t seen how Amy works in this environment, whether she will be independent or whether she will go along with the herd.
We also have a different method of connecting with the voters. I don’t have a restaurant, so people don’t come in to talk to me. I need to go out and talk to them.
But I look at the fact that we are both Asian, and I wonder why she ran against me, and whether I did anything to offend her.
POI: Will you serve the entire four years on the council? If a higher office opens up in that time will you run?
Igloi-Matsuno: I am committed to serving four years. I have no plans to run for any other office.
Chang: I will not run for anything else. I would rather work on issues in my own back yard than in a place that I am not as familiar with.
POI: What are you hearing, as you doorbell?
Igloi-Matsuno: I’m hearing that people really don’t want to pay any more taxes, and they want to know how the tax money they are paying is being spent. They want to know their taxes are working for them. They worked hard for their money, they don’t mind paying taxes, but they don’t want the tax money to support people who aren’t working as hard.
They are also concerned that we are spending too much time on downtown issues, and that we should be addressing the needs of the entire community.
Chang: In McCormick Woods, a lot of the voters were concerned about the surcharge and how it will be applied. Some of them were happy about the annexation, and some weren’t.
There were some who were upset about the requirement to wear a bike helmet, which only became an issue after annexation. There were also a lot of people who have strong opinions about how the mayor should be paid. They know that he was elected as part time and don’t understand why it should be full time.
I hear that they would have been happy to be able to vote on the issue, even if the vote wasn’t binding.
POI: Which is pretty much your position.
POI: The mayor wants to annex the entire urban growth area (UGA). As this happens, what will you, as a council member, suggest?
Igloi-Matsuno: After the annexation of the Bethel Corridor, we should stop to determine how the three recent annexations have impacted the city. We need to see how it plays out financially, and whether we can afford to provide all of the services.
After annexation we are responsible for 100 percent of the services even though it takes three years for us to get 100 percent of the tax revenue.
Chang: We need to think about how the annexations affect the whole city. When I was on the planning commission we would make recommendations based on land use issues, and how they would affect the neighborhoods.
With annexations you need to make a broader decision, ones that are for the common good. And we need to do a cost/benefit analysis for each annexation.
POI: What do people need to know about you?
Igloi-Matsuno: I don’t think that I am a good public speaker. I get nervous. I’m better in on-on-one situations. I want to spend the necessary time understanding the issues and make the decisions that benefit my constituents. I look forward to making a contribution to the city.
Chang: I want people to know that I am here to solve problems for people. Even if there is no easy solution I want them to know that I will listen. I can’t solve everything, but I can point them in the right direction.