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Maupin, Younger square off at debate

Less than 24 hours after refusing to answer Susan Brown’s question about who his campaign manager is Councilman Will Maupin answered that query at Thursday’s Bremerton Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues candidate forum at the Family Pancake House on Kitsap Way.

“My wife is my campaign manager,” Maupin said. “I have two campaign committee co-chairs Mel Wortman and Mayor Cary Bozeman.”

Maupin’s opponent for his District 8 seat Eric Younger said he didn’t have any comment on the issue since it was addressed to Maupin.

When asked by an audience member about the city council’s current nine-member size, Younger and Maupin expressed different views on its future.

“I can see advantages of reducing the size of the council,” Younger said.

However, after researching the issue, Younger said he believes a reduction could do more harm than good.

Currently, all it takes is “a laser printer and a willingness to go out and doorbell” for someone to run for a council seat, but that would change if the council size were reduced, he said.

“If you reduce the size of the council, it becomes more of an issue of who can raise the most money,” he said.

Maupin said that Bremerton is one of only three cities in the state that have nine-member councils with the others being Seattle and Tacoma.

Although Poulsbo and Port Orchard have seven-member councils, those cities have mayors who are active participants in those meetings, which in reality gives them eight-member councils, he said.

“Right now you get to vote for one council member and a mayor every four years, so you really don’t have much say in your government,” he said.

By reorganizing the council into four districts and three at-large positions, residents would have more influence over their local governance, he said.

“At least the first step would be to create four districts and three at-large,” he said.

Bremerton City Councilman Adam Brockus asked both candidates if they support the city’s proposed property tax levy lid lift, which is intended to fund parks, sidewalks and a community beautification program.

“Yes, I support Proposition 1, and I am going to vote for it,” Maupin replied. “I think it’s an extension of our redevelopment efforts downtown and it’s going to extend the efforts out into the neighborhoods.”

Younger also expressed his support for Proposition 1, but said he was disappointed by the council’s resolution, which placed the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“Mr. Maupin misunderstood the parks survey,” Younger said. “No. 1 is more trails, No. 2 is sidewalks and No. 3 is improving our existing parks.”

One District 8 resident stated that she could not recall Maupin having a district meeting during the last four years and asked Maupin why that hasn’t happened.

“When I first got on council we started monthly or bimonthly meetings, but very few people showed up,” Maupin responded.

In an effort to increase attendance, council districts 6,7,8 and 9 began holding joint district meetings, but that attempt failed to improve attendance, so the decision was made to quit having them, Maupin said.

“One of the platforms I’m running on is resurrecting district meetings,” Younger said. “District meetings are important to have.”

Younger pointed to Brockus as an example of how district meetings can work as council District 4 has regular district meetings to keep residents informed of happenings within the city.

“I think it’s on the council instead of having people to have to tune into BKAT every Wednesday,” Younger said. “Maybe you need to come up with more interesting topics.”

Maupin was also chastised by several audience members for his refusal to put the Bremerton Tunnel project to an advisory vote of the people in 2003 after a petition with more than 3,400 signatures was presented to the council requesting such an action.

“I have been in favor of the tunnel for a long time,” Maupin said. “Do you go out and have an advisory vote that has no effect? It’s still up to the state and its engineers to decide what is best for the state highway.”

The advisory vote would have been “a waste of money and it wouldn’t have had an impact on the project,” Maupin said.

Younger said that when that many people show up at a council meeting that should be listened to instead of being ignored by the council.

As the two candidates made their closing remarks, Younger said he has listened to the residents in District 8 and will work to address their concerns.

“I have a long list of needs neighbor by neighborhood,” Younger said. “Each has a different list of concerns. If I lose, I will hand them over to Mr. Maupin, so he can work on them.”

Maupin said that during the past four years the city council has developed a great deal of teamwork and made progress that needs to continue, and it will if he is re-elected.

“The progress of the last four years is a vote for me and the alternative is to go back to the past when we had a lot of controversy and obstructionism.”

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