City Council race gets more competition
July 1, 2011
By Tim Pfarr
Candidates file for August primary
Resident Frank Irigon and former City Councilman Gordon Bisset have filed to run for City Council Position 4 in this year’s election.
Bisset — who served as a member of the council from 2002-2005 — and Irigon will face off against Parks Commission Chair Andrew Shelton in a primary election in August.
The top two finishers will advance to the general election in November.
Councilman Sonny Putter, who holds Position 4, announced in April he would retire from the council at the end of the year.
Incumbent councilwomen Lisa Jensen and Carol Simpson and incumbent Deputy Mayor Steve Buri have filed to run for re-election this fall in their respective positions. Each will be unopposed on the November ballot.
Council positions are at large and not assigned to geographic regions of the city.
Frank Irigon has been a resident of the Rainier Crest neighborhood of Newcastle for 25 years. He said he is running for City Council to help steer the city toward balancing residential and commercial development to increase its tax base, as well as to increase transparency and accountability on the council.
This is his first time running for a council position.
He said the biggest issues facing the city are financial. The city needs to ensure it lives within its means, especially given the tough economic times at hand, he said.
“It can’t have anything that’s frivolous,” Irigon said about the city. “Whatever it wants to do, it has to be able to fund it. It should live within its means.”
Irigon has a bachelor’s degree in general interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in social work with a focus in community and organizational services, both from the University of Washington.
He has worked for various nonprofit organizations during the past 40 years, most recently as director of admissions and recruitment for the Center for Career Alternatives in Seattle.
He was the executive director and cofounder of the International Community Health Center in Seattle, and cofounder and executive director of Washington Asian Pacific Islander Families Against Substance Abuse.
He also served on the Renton Technical College board of trustees for five years, but he resigned when he found that he did not live in the college’s district. Then-Gov. Gary Locke had appointed him to the position.
Irigon is a member of the board of directors for National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse Inc. and the executive board for the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans.
His friend Frank Kiuchi will serve as Irigon’s treasurer during his campaign.
Irigon and his wife Felicita have two grown sons, a grown daughter and one grandson. His hobbies are reading and doing work in the community.
“I have a passion for community work,” he said. “That’s what I was trained for.”
Gordon Bisset has been a resident of the Hazelwood neighborhood of Newcastle for 41 years He served as a member of the City Council for one term. He also served as chairman of the city’s Planning Commission from 1998-2001, and he was a member of the finance committee while he was on the council.
Bisset said he ran for election in 2001 with the intention of not running for re-election in 2005, because he wanted to focus on city issues rather than campaigning. Nonetheless, he remained a common figure at council meetings after leaving his post. Last year, he began serving as president of the Hazelwood Community Association.
Bisset said he decided to run because he can make a positive impact as a member of the council once again.
“I felt that I could hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m really up on what’s going on because I have attended meetings as the president of the Hazelwood Community Association the last two years.”
He added that he wants to ensure the city doesn’t raise taxes, because families are still battling economic troubles. Likewise, Bisset said infrastructure maintenance is the most important issue facing the city, because delaying maintenance can end up costing much more money.
Bisset became involved in city issues prior to being elected in 2001, as he gathered signatures for a petition to keep the council from instating a utility tax. The tax was never adopted.
During his time as a councilman, he said he placed priority on holding down expenses, and he helped establish the city’s rainy day fund.
Bisset has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington. After graduating, he worked in the university’s applied physics lab for 32 years, focusing on mathematics and computers, eventually becoming a senior mathematician.
Bisset and his wife Diane have a grown son and two grandchildren. Bisset enjoys films and playing bridge.