Q & A With Mike Poirier, Candidate For Wenatchee Mayor
Wenatchee City Council member Mike Poirier is a candidate for Mayor of the City of Wenatchee. Poirier recently appeared on KPQ's Agenda Radio program to discuss his campaign for office.
KPQ: Highlight a little of your background and qualifications?
Mike Poirier: I grew up here in Wenatchee and then went off to college at Eastern Washington University, and then went over to Seattle for a year and my wife and I....we had a miscarriage with our first child. And boy I'm tearing up but we decided to aske ourselves a weird question...... where do we want to die? Here's a 23 year old college graduate, my wife's a teacher, and we decide where we want to die and we said.... our community is Wenatchee! So that's the reason we moved back and that I think it's part of it, why you would want to be a mayor. It really comes down to community, what your involvement has been. And since since we moved back, I've been on a lot of organizations like Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Women's Resource Center, Hospitality House, and it's just seems like when I've been asked, I've just always said yes, I thought that was the right responsibility to do so for me for running for mayor. It's just the right thing to give back to the community. I truly believe it's what needs to happen for a nice transition. And it's, it's nice to have all the support of the leaders in our community in our jurisdiction. I'm also on the Finance Committee, and that's a heck of a project when you're dealing with 181 employees for the city of Wenatchee, you know, $141 million budget. And so, I've been doing that for about four years. Mayor Kuntz put me on a couple of committees like Transportation Council, and River Com, and it's really got me up to speed. It's been fun the last two years have all the knowledge and use my past experience. I've been in business for 30 years and have seven employees. And so you know how much I will commit to the community, I've actually sold part of my business and I'm walking away January 1st, because now, this city is too big. And we need a full time mayor.
KPQ: What would you do differently than the current administration, if anything?
Mike Poirier: I believe in some corrections, one is outreach. I love it when I've talked to somebody or an organization. And they say, Mike, you've explained it enough. I get it. I want to hear that from our community. I believe we can do a little bit better on our outreach program, but I can tell you right now, our mayor and city council Mayor Kuntz has done an unbelievable job. So for me, that's outreach and transparency is what we need.
KPQ: How would you propose the council address the homeless population if the numbers continue to increase beyond the current capacity of Safe Parks and low barrier housing capabilities?
Mike Poirier: Well, we have 44 cottages that are coming in that will house 88 people and after that there is a blueprint for all this. And when I'm Mayor you're gonna see signs of parks, and and we need to make sure we do it legally. We have to remember, the homeless is our mom, dad, brother, sister, but we need to also have them transition into a safe and healthy environment. And you're gonna see signs up that comes up to the parks. I truly believe the (homeless) percentage is going to be lowered within the first two years of my me being mayor. I think it's really it's really interesting because you have to follow the other cities and you still have to protect our city and realize we have responsibility but the other cities jurisdictions have their responsibility to to take care of their homeless. So and that's that's a regional program and that needs to be expressed with East Wenatchee Mayor Jerellea Crawford, Mayor Crawford totally understands that when I meet with their commissioners Douglas County and they know we need to come together and have resolutions.
KPQ: When you say the percentages come down. You mean the numbers of homeless coming down?
Mike Poirier: Yes I think when they did, it was 121 people I'm not sure why we're getting them when we did an outreach. It is a YWCA did something about our outreach program in January of 121. But if if things keep going and we're going to be at 400 My belief is within two years we can keep that number down to either the 121 or 130 instead of getting to the 400 so it doesn't get out of control. And again, we got to hold people responsible.
KPQ: What can this the city be doing to increase the amount of affordable or workforce housing?
Mike Poirier: Right now we're looking at changing the eight year tax incentive but we to look at changes that are an incentive for affordable homes. There's an organization that called common ground and they they have a program which is unbelievable. There's some state, federal and some private money and it's to buy land with cute little homes. You have to have an income, but it has to be within a certain amount. I believe it's 65 to 80,000 and then then you can buy this home. My understanding is 60% of the people that buy those homes will go out and get market value homes. And when they do that it's a transition then for for people that are trying hard working hard to get out of their situation.
KPQ: Do you believe a needle exchange or safe syringe exchange program is appropriate for Wenatchee?
Mike Poirier: The easy answer is no, I do not. We don't have a high HIV rate in our community, according according to the health district. It also is their statistics on this that if we do have a needle exchange, it increases drug use. And I do not want which most of us don't want and should not want a higher drug use in our city. So the answer is 100%. I will not be encouraging any type of needle exchange programs.
KPQ: The agencies that want to proceed apparently don't need permission to proceed. Should the City consider any restrictions or regulations on a program needle exchange program ?
Mike Poirier: 100% I mean, if this is something that the people of our community does not want a needle exchange. So I definitely would go look at regulations but again within the law, but also the organizations that are going to encourage this. Then we need to look to make sure they are doing the correct things with our other tax money because I'm not going to penalize somebody because they want to do this program. But you're gonna make me look, is that the direction for us? We're all in this together. This is our community. We need to take charge of it. And if this is not what we want as a community then there needs to be consequences. We need to do the right thing. I think the right thing is to put a stop on any type of needle exchange.
KPQ: How would you assess the current communication for the city to the business community and city residents at large and give examples of this?
Mike Poirier: The city does a pretty good job, but there's always room for improvement. Again, when I mentioned I would rather have you come to me and say, okay, Mike, I heard it three times. I get it and that's important to us as a community. We have that responsibility. We have been trying to do some more pop up outreach. And I also believe in city council meetings going to happen at a park, Washington Park in April or May and let people call in and say what they want. But I want I want every city council person after that meeting, to go into a corner of the park and listen to people we have to do that we need to be able to listen, that's our job. You know, we represent you and it's I think that's so important but but I want more pop up community events, and it doesn't cost anything. And it'll be all the directors of the city so they can understand. It'd be the police chief. There'll be public works. Human resources. I think it's important to hear what our citizens are telling us and I think it's important to reach out. I don't want anybody intimidated to come into the city. If we have to come out to you then we will come to you.
KPQ: East Wenatchee recently adopted an installation fee certain groups are charged for the display of banners on city light standards. Do you favor or oppose a fee for placing banners whatever the cause or event may be?
Mike Poirier: The city actually does have a $100 fee, but it's awful hard to have to charge a veterans group for that. But it really should be a charge for what it's going to cost to actually do it. So if it takes three people, five hours, we should calculate that out and see what the cost is. So I already know $100 is too low of a fee. But definitely I promote there should be a fee. And I'd be the first one, if it went up to $400. to donate the $400 to Veteran's groups.
KPQ: Would you have any proposed changes for policy or street maintenance and improvement schedules?
Mike Poirier: Well I'm guessing you're also talking about pavement. pavement maintenance. In 2015, it's called a PCI. If you go below our percentage of the roads, then it'll cost two to three times more to repair that road. For example, if you let it deteriorate too bad, it'll cost you 10 times more to get a new road. It's kind of the way it's like maintenance, like painting a house or something like that, if you think of it that way. So we want to stay at 70% And we're like at 71%. Now Mayor Kuntz has done a great job. I believe in 2016, we needed $3.1 million a year to maintain that PCI of 70% and you do want it because it will save save us more millions dollars later. And right now it's projected that we need about a $4 million a year so I believe the roads are important. Make sure before we pave over the roads what we're doing in the future. So we can, you know do new sewer lines or electric or deal with the PUD with that responsibility. But I believe we're on track and I believe we're using the money correctly or effectively. We're using all of our tax money that's supposed to go for roads, and we put in a little extra money to maintain our PCI.
KPQ: how will you make decisions on whether to ask taxpayers to approve new revenue? What would go into your your thought process?
Mike Poirier: The biggest question that we need to answer is how does it benefit the community? I don't want any tax increase unless we can see that it will benefit us and we need to make sure we've got to identify and see what kind of revenue we'd be looking at and see what kind of program it is to determine if this is something that will benefit the majority of our of our city. So you have to look at each each thing individually. I've just brought up roads. If we know what we're doing and the majority of people says Fine, keep our roads up because you're gonna save me millions dollars down the road. And we try to implement something that increases it by $5 per household, then and then we should.
KPQ: Local officials have had occasional exploratory discussions on a new Regional Jail. What's your interest in a regional jail partnership?
Mike Poirier: I would support the discussion as long as the whole region is involved. I think that's the crucial if everybody's willing to pay their fair share to maximize our resources. And if the jails a necessary service, we need both cities and counties. We're already paying for some of the services. So I'm not sure if we need a Regional Jail at this time. But as long as it's beneficial. And everybody participated. I would listen to the discussion.
KPQ: Why would you be the better choice in Wenatchee's Mayoral race?
Mike Poirier: I know from my dedication from the past 30 years and my commitment to the community because I wanted to give this back to my community is the right thing to do. And it not painful when you do the right thing. It's really good. And I'll throw this name out. Mayor Kuntz has been here for 12 years and he's telling people that he endorses me. There's power behind that. He knows what I'm capable of doing. He knows what I've done in the past and he knows what I'm gonna do in the future.
Ballots for the General Election will be mailed out October 20th and are due by November 7th, 2023