PORT ORCHARD — The “silly season” — an old reference to the election season — has become downright ugly just days before the Tuesday general election.
A skirmish during an Oct. 30 meeting between Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes and Teresa Osinski, executive vice president of the Kitsap County Home Builders Association, led to a visit by Bremerton Police at a downtown Bremerton restaurant.
The two met at the restaurant after Osinski had requested to see the mayor’s re-election campaign finance documents. Matthes chose to file his campaign financial report under the state campaign law’s “mini-reporting” category — an option for candidates raising $5,000 or less. Candidates, however, must allow individuals to personally review the report if requested.
Matthes, who did not return phone calls or an email after the incident, arranged for the meeting at the Bremerton Bar and Grill and brought along a witness, former Kitsap County Commission candidate Linda Simpson, and about three other individuals who sat at a table in the restaurant’s back dining room.
Osinski, when reached by the Independent Oct. 31, said she had been asked at the meeting to sign a document allowing Matthes to tape-record the session. “I did sign it and I asked for a copy of the document (she had signed),” Osinski said. “When the mayor said that wouldn’t be possible, I asked to take a photo of it. He refused.”
At some point during the meeting, former mayor Lary Coppola, who was narrowly defeated in the last election by Matthes, joined the group. Coppola said he was there to witness the meeting in his role as a board member of the Home Builders Association. He was asked by Matthes to leave the meeting because he had not made an appointment to attend with Osinski. Coppola responded, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Osinski told the Independent that shortly after Coppola’s response, Matthes “lunged” across the table to take back the binder containing his campaign financial report. In the process, she said a finger on her right hand was injured. Matthes apparently cut his finger on a broken piece of glassware or suffered a paper cut, as he surmised on the tape.
At that point, Osinski and Coppola left the room. Osinski said she never had the chance to review the campaign financial report.
Bremerton Police subsequently were called to the restaurant by members of the Matthes party after the incident.
Simpson told police that Coppola had pushed her after he tried to videotape the incident with his cell phone.
Osinski said she went to an urgent-care center on the advice of a medic who had arrived at the scene. She said medical staff took X-rays of her arm and found no fractures. She noted feeling lingering pain in her arm and said she will visit an orthopedic specialist early this week.
“I believe the most damaging thing coming out of this meeting wasn’t the altercation but rather the fact that the mayor and his group made the encounter such an intimidating experience,” Osinski said. “I was perfectly within my rights to ask and review his campaign document.”
According to Bremerton police, statements were given by witnesses but no arrests were made. Police are investigating the incident and may consider filing charges of misdemeanor assault.
Coppola and Simpson also didn’t answer their telephones to provide comment.