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Paggao faces off against Iraq vet veteran in Oak Harbor City Council race
Voters will choose in the upcoming election between the elder statesman on the Oak Harbor City Council and a former bomb disposal technician who would undoubtedly bring a new level of intensity to the elected body.
Councilman Danny Paggao, the mayor pro tem, has served 20 years on the council and is seeking another four. He said his goal is to help make the city the “most livable” in the country.
“We were named as one of the top 10 most livable cities,” he said. “I would like to see us at No. 1.”
Michael Piccone served two back-to-back tours of Iraq. His Explosive Ordnance Detachment team defused roadside bombs and trained Iraqi solders; he was medically discharged due to a back injury. He is a stay-at-home dad for two young boys and wants to bring new ideas and renewed energy to the city.
“It is time for new thinking and fresh ideas on the City Council,” he said.
Paggao and Piccone have very different styles of leadership.
Paggao is a consistently calm voice on the council and has never been involved in the bickering that occasionally reared up over the last 20 years.
Paggao explains his position, but rarely expresses strong feelings about issues. One exception, however, is the recent discussion over beer gardens in city parks; he insisted in excluding Fort Nugent Park from the parks where they will be allowed under strict circumstances.
Paggao said he would never run a negative campaign and that approach extends to the council.
“I already have the proven leadership on the council,” he said, pointing out that his fellow council members named him as mayor pro tem.
Paggao is a bit of a wildcard on the council; during a former administration, he was often the swing vote.
In recent years, he’s voted on both sides of controversial issues that divided Mayor Scott Dudley and the council. He voted against the conversion of Pioneer Way to a one-way road, which many see as the original source of friction between Dudley and other leaders.
“I listened to businesses that felt there would be adverse effects,” Paggao said.
Paggao wouldn’t comment on what he thought about Dudley campaigning for Piccone, except to say he won’t engage in negative campaigning. On the question about the fighting between the council and mayor, he pointed to the council.
“The mayor is the executive branch and the council is the legislative,” he said. “The trouble comes when we cross the boundaries.”
Piccone was the most outspoken candidate during the voters forums and is critical of past decisions made by city leaders.
He said he’s concerned about “big government” and petty politics. He said Paggao was on the council when what he thinks were mistakes and bad decisions were made.
“We’ve seen a 27 percent increase in utility rates over the last 20 years,” he said, adding that major increases are excepted in the future.
Piccone said he first became concerned about city government after Native American remains were unearthed during the Pioneer Way project; the mistake has cost the city millions.
While he has the mayor’s support, he said he won’t be a “yes man” for Dudley if elected. He said he first met Dudley when the former councilman was running for mayor. He said he raked Dudley over the coals about the Pioneer Way project and their encounter “did not end well.”
He said his opinion of the mayor changed after Dudley stood up for gun rights.
He said the “childishness” between the mayor and council gets in the way of progress. While he said the bickering “goes both ways,” he thinks the council needs to let the mayor do his job.
“The council isn’t listening to the people,” he said. “They need to put personal issues and agendas aside.”
Piccone said he would like to focus on city finances and ensure taxes and fees are as low as possible.
“I served my country,” he said, “and now I’m trying to do something for my community.”
NEITHER Paggao and Piccone disagree on the need for a planned sewage treatment plant, but they differ on the siting and costs.
Paggao points out that the city went to lengths to involve the public in the process, which started three years ago. There were a series of public workshops and charrettes. The community was involved in the process as the sites were slowly narrowed down.
Paggao said he supports building the plant in the vicinity of Windjammer Park, which likely means a commercial property on Pioneer Way. He said it was the least expensive option.
Piccone said the problem with the process was the limited options. He’s against the idea of building it adjacent to the park or on commercial property. He said citizens he’s spoken too are overwhelmingly against the current plan.
He suggests the best option may be to build the plant on Navy property.
“Let’s step back,” he said. “Take a deep breath. See what the Navy has to say.”
Age: 71 years
Family: Wife, two children, five grandchildren
Career: 23 years in Navy, real estate and 22 years as a financial management analyst for Navy
Education: College classes
Community: New Leaf, Habitat for Humanity, Filipino-American Society, Cub Scouts, and more
Family: Wife, two boys
Career: EOD disposal technician in Navy, small business owner, independent contractor in auto industry, stay-at-home dad
Education: College classes, Navy dive/EOD school
Community: Knights of Columbus, church volunteer