Remaining candidates gear up for primary election

August 5, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

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Although Andrew Shelton has dropped from the race for City Council Position 4, there will still be a primary election this month. Shelton, Gordon Bisset and Frank Irigon will be on the ballot.

The top two finishers will advance to the general election in November. Ballots for the primary election must be postmarked by Aug. 16.

Gordon Bisset

Gordon Bisset — former councilman and planning commissioner, and current president of the Hazelwood Community Association — said he wants to ensure the city maintains its infrastructure and financial viability. As a 41-year resident of the city and frequent City Council meeting attendee, he said he could hit the ground running if elected.

“Not only do I know the issues, I know the history of a lot of the issues,” he said.

Gordon Bisset

Bisset was a member of the council from 2002-2005, and prior to his time on the council, he spent three years as chairman of the Planning Commission.

As a retired mathematician and former member of the city’s Finance Committee, he said he would also bring budgeting skills crucial to the city in the fragile economy.

He said maintaining infrastructure is important, as delaying maintenance can cost the city two or three times as much money in the long run.

Bisset said the best decision the council made in the past two years was switching to a balanced budget. One decision he would change, he said, would be the decision to move City Hall to the Newcastle Professional Center.

He said the move was unnecessary, given that staying in the current location, 13020 Newcastle Way, would have saved money and given the city space for its maintenance equipment.

He also said the deal was not negotiated extensively enough, and that some of the reasons city staff members gave for moving — such as increasing staff efficiency — were not legitimate.

“It’s kind of a false idea that it’s going to increase staff efficiency,” he said, adding that the implication is that staff is not efficient as is.

He said his most significant volunteer efforts in the city have been serving on the Planning Commission, serving as president of the Hazelwood Community Association and volunteering with trails projects.

Bisset has been endorsed by six of the seven members of the City Council: Mayor John Dulcich, Deputy Mayor Steve Buri, councilmen Bill Erxleben and Rich Crispo, and councilwomen Carol Simpson and Lisa Jensen.

 

Frank Irigon

Frank Irigon, a former member of the Renton Technical College board of trustees, said he wants the city to live within its means, have more accountability to residents and take a look at how it fits in the region. He is a 25-year resident of the city.

Gov. Gary Locke appointed Irigon to the Renton Technical College board, and Irigon served for five years, helping manage a $34 million budget.

“This is where I feel I have more experience,” Irigon said regarding his opponents.

Frank Irigon

In 2009, Irigon led a vote to fire the college’s president, Don Bressler, because Bressler was not promoting diversity on his leadership team, Irigon said then.

Afterward, information surfaced that Irigon did not live within the college’s service area, and Irigon — who said he was unaware he lived outside the boundaries — resigned from the board.

Irigon said he wants city residents to have more of a voice in Newcastle.

“It’s not just the City Council’s city. It’s everybody’s city,” he said, adding that citizens need to make themselves heard when it comes to how they want the downtown area developed. “This is where I believe citizen input is critical.”

He said a pedestrian-friendly and transit-friendly downtown would work in the city, and he said the city would benefit by having more restaurant choices and possibly a theater.

“People need to think of Newcastle as more than a bedroom community for Seattle,” he said.

At the same time, he said the city must live within its means, funding only what it can afford.

Irigon said the best decisions the council made in the past two years have been those pertaining to allowing more density in the downtown area, although he did not cite specific actions. One decision he would change, he said, would be the decision to move City Hall to the Newcastle Professional Center.

“Does this translate to living within our means?” he said about the City Hall move.

Irigon is endorsed by the King County Democrats, the 41st Legislative District Democrats, King County Councilman Larry Gossett and state Reps. Bob Hasegawa, Sharon Tomiko Santos and Luis Moscoso.

Candidate Q&A

Gordon Bisset

 

What is the No. 1 issue facing the city of Newcastle right now?

Sustaining the long-term financial viability of our city. Current and future budgetary spending must be careful and within realistic financial assumptions.

 

How will your leadership impact that issue?

I have eight years of city public service. While on our Finance Committee, we balanced budgets. I have firsthand knowledge of our financial issues.

 

How would you, as a councilman, help Newcastle get on solid financial ground for the future?

I will support the current council’s balanced budget. I will support future balanced budgets. All future spending analysis must be with realistic sound financial data.

 

How will you increase communication between the City Council and the community?

Councilors should attend local community meetings. I will hold regular meetings with citizens who wish to attend.

 

In your opinion, what are Newcastle residents most concerned about this year?

How the decaying economy is affecting them. Household budgets are tightened and they expect their city to do the same. New taxes are not favored!

 

Frank Irigon

 What is the No. 1 issue facing the city of Newcastle right now?

Those revenues, from property and sales taxes, are not increasing at the same rate as expenditures.

 

How will your leadership impact that issue?

I will hit the ground running if elected with my proven work and volunteer experiences having faced similar budgetary challenges.

 

How would you, as a councilman, help Newcastle get on solid financial ground for the future?

I will work collaboratively and tirelessly with the council to tackle today’s financial problems in order to lay the foundation for the future.

 

How will you increase communication between the City Council and the community?

The city is doing a good job with communicating through various venues such as their website, community outreach and will continue to support those efforts.

 

In your opinion, what are Newcastle residents most concerned about this year?

Like many of my neighbors, we’re concerned about the economy and its impact on our quality of life and frame of mind.

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Comments

One Response to “Remaining candidates gear up for primary election”

  1. R J Bendzak on August 11th, 2011 4:31 pm

    Sounds as if we need Mr Bisset with his Balanced Budget philosophy more than ever. We need him at the State and National level. Sounds as wise as Alexander Hamilton.

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