Anthony Oddo wasn’t living on Bainbridge Island when Councilman Ron Peltier was elected to the at-large position on the Bainbridge Island City Council.
But Oddo is an islander now, and said the city needs a change in the District 1 position.
Currently the policy and programs coordinator for the nonprofit Housing Resources Bainbridge, Oddo is making his first run for elected office.
He said he was motivated to seek the at-large seat in part by the testy tone set by the council over the past 12 to 14 months.
“I was disappointed by the tone and, I think, the general lack of respect that was shown by members of council toward not only their fellow council members and the city staff, but also the public,” Oddo said.
Oddo and his husband Dave moved to the island in 2017. Before that, the candidate lived in the Washington, D.C. area off and on since 2006.
His husband is originally from Snohomish, and they had talked about moving to the Pacific Northwest for years.
It’s the first time Oddo has lived in the Northwest. He grew up in the Chicago area, the eldest of two children. His sister is a nursing student in San Diego; his father, a financial advisory, and mother, who works in fitness/naturopathy, still call Chicago home.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Oddo also holds a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University’s Sanford School.
Public service has been a central part of his life, he said.
“I went to public policy school — not law school, not MBA — because I wanted to be in public service. My work has always been in the public sector. And running for office is always going to be one of those things where you have to — I just felt like — you have to see a time for yourself. And you have to be able to articulate your case.”
Now is that time.
“I want to add my voice to the council,” Oddo said.
“The council has done an admirable job to date on protecting our natural environment. But my work at HRB and some of the things that I would like to accomplish on council involve the human environment on Bainbridge Island,” he explained.
Bainbridge is a high functioning city and is generally very well managed, he said.
“We should be able to balance both the needs of the human citizens that live here and the environment in which we live in,” Oddo added.
Oddo, who currently serves as chairman of the city’s Marine Access Committee, is one of two candidates in the race.
Peltier, the incumbent, has announced that he won’t run for re-election.
Former Bainbridge councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos, a Bainbridge-based collaborative divorce attorney and mediator, is also campaigning for the at-large position.
Though Oddo has lived on Bainbridge for just a short time, he’s already immersed himself in the community. Beyond his volunteer work for the city, he is involved in Bainbridge Island Rowing and serves as the vice president of the Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association.
Four seats on the council are at stake in November. Running for the at-large position was a deliberate decision, Oddo said.
“I made a conscious choice to run for the at-large seat, in order to accomplish the things I would hope to accomplish, and to create the collegial and collaborative work environment that I would hope to see, that I think citizens should expect of a city council,” he explained.
His campaign will also press the issues of affordable housing and transportation.
“I believe there should be an opportunity for individuals who desire to be a part of our community to find a place to live or rent,” Oddo said. “And also at the same time, people who have been here a long time, they should be able to see and envision a place to stay, age in place, remain.”
“Things such as the availability of housing and the way the council makes decisions on where future development goes, that is really what has motivated me to run.
“I think that if done correctly, Bainbridge Island can be a leader in accommodating growth but at the same time, respecting the environment and sense of place that people find so appealing about the island. And things like affordable housing and design standards and green building, are things that I would be very much interested in,” he said.
The council, Oddo said, “only has a finite number of policy levers to pull.”
But concentrating housing near the city’s core and the ferry, for example, also has connections to climate policy and reducing traffic gridlock.
First, however, comes improving the environment in council chambers.
“You need to be able to collaborate and work with people in a respectful way,” Oddo said.