Q & A with Wenatchee Mayoral Candidate Bryan Campbell
Bryan Campbell is a candidate for Mayor of Wenatchee. The seat is open with current Mayor Frank Kuntz deciding to not seek another term.
Campbell was a recent guest on KPQ's Agenda Program.
KPQ: Why do you want to be Wenatchee's next mayor?
Bryan Campbell: I was born and raised in Wenatchee, as well as my wife and we love the community and love the people and love serving the community. And that's why I added it up the other day I said 100 Plus, but it's actually 150 years of of combined community service that I've done over the years and totally loved doing that. And I was talking the other day, it's like why do you want to be mayor you should be filing for Social Security. Well, that's true. But I love the town and the people too much and I've seen some things lately in the last few years. Especially after COVID. With the crime rates are going up. You drive by shootings when asked you were unheard of in the past. There's a lot of issues out there right now. A lot of problems. The homeless is becoming a real issue. finding affordable housing is a real issue. Those are things that I feel I've got the ingredients, this skill set to take care of. And I would not feel good about myself if I basically felt like I was abandoned in the city and later on looked back and said, You know I should have gotten in there. I think I could have really made a difference.
KPQ: How will you propose the council address the homeless population if the numbers of homeless continue to increase beyond the current capacity the safe parks or low barrier housing can accommodate?
Bryan Campbell: That's a real concern of mine. We had safe park one and immediately needed safe part two and I'm concerned about safe park three and safe park for why does that population keep growing? And so you have to analyze that and I have heard that there's been, you know, homeless bused in from other areas and are coming from other areas. And, you know, listening to the scuttle that's one thing but I when I run across the homeless person I talked to him and find out what's going on where they're from, what their story is. In fact, I just talked to Xavier last night and in Memorial Park and you know, you know, where are you from how long you've been here. Most of the people that I talked to are not longtime locals. They have come in fairly recently into the city. And I asked why they come in to the city and it's usually because we have such great services when he has very compassionate people. We love to help out the people that are in need and we do a really good job of that and sometimes maybe we're doing too good of a job of that. They've said some of them have said it's kind of like vacation here in Wenatchee you know they love the weather. I'm not sure they're gonna say that in January but right for right now. They love the weather. They can come in they can they get services, they get food, they get we take really good care of them. And they say when you grab grab the bus and go to plan for the day we can grab the bus and go to to Leavenworth. He says Why wouldn't I want to be here? It we just provide such good services in such a great place to live and the people are so nice to us. So that's the concern that will end up with save part three and four. If we don't get these people back into society and become productive members of society and paying taxes. We're just going to stay on the same path. And I've heard that our our per capita homeless population right now is pretty even with Seattle. So that's the bleed over from Seattle, those kinds of things that have been happening in Seattle that everybody's so concerned about and they're kind of running away from or showing up here in town with gang activity and drugs and human trafficking. And all those things that we've actually never experienced in the past. So we have to come up with solutions. We can't just keep throwing money at it. And having the population continued to increase. We need to get those people back into into into society with good programs for reform.
KPQ: What if anything, should the city be doing to increase the amount of affordable or as many call it, workforce housing?
Bryan Campbell: That's the topic that I get so many questions about now because it's been in the paper recently about the the loss of the affordable housing units and and people don't really understand how that all came about and why that came about. And I'm not sure I understand why that came about. Because it doesn't make sense to me. So I'm just gonna grab my calculator right now and give you just kind of a little, a little idea of kind of what happened because we had 84 units of affordable housing in the system that were just coming online, started with an application back in December of 2021 with the developer and there's 84 units in there. The kind of an average monthly income, monthly income excuse me, rental expense for those 84 years is probably about $1,650 I would say it's really close. But if they have to provide those units at the affordable housing level, and that's defined as you know, no more than 30% of your gross monthly income for for housing expense excluding utilities. So if you take that 30% out, so if the rates were 16 150 Kind of an average of what they could get at market rate and the affordable housing somebody makes $4,000 a month. That means that their their monthly income monthly income a set monthly expense, you know, for that housing can't be more than $1,200. So you're looking at a gap of about $450 per unit on the average. So if you take that $450 And you multiply that times 84 units, and then multiply again times 12 To get your annual difference in income that you're losing by providing affordable housing and then you divide that by a capitalization rate and a capitalization rates basically what your expected return on investment would be on those cash flows. And if I would say right now if somebody came in and could buy that and get a six and a half percent return on their investment, that's probably about right. So if you divide that number by six and a half percent, you come up with that difference in value of what those apartments are going to be worth at market rate. Versus affordable housing rate $6.9 million. So when the developer came back and wanted to get out of the, the affordable housing component of the of that property because of interest rates, doubling those kinds of things. It makes sense because it makes it much less profitable. But that by getting out of that, it gives them an increase of value about $7 million in the project. So not only does he call it a special interest, but you know, a developer get $7 million in equity in the property. cash in the pocket. Basically. There's potentially 84 families that just lost their affordable housing and affordable housing has been the number one thing people have been talking about. And I just it just blew my mind that the council voted to eliminate those 84 units and let the developer out of that. agreement. If the developer would have gone hadn't gone through, I mean, they had the opportunity to get out, but they wouldn't have gotten any of the tax abatement and the city still gave them another eight years on the tax abatement. program and in the only reason I've heard from that as well wanted to be fair, because if the developer came in today and asked for the eight year program, they could get it today. That doesn't make sense to me as a former banker, because what the same analogy if the banker showed up at your doorstep today and said, You know what, that 3% loan that I that I got you gave gave to you, I could get 7% on that loan today. So I think it's only fair that if you start paying me 7% on that loan, that's the same analogy and it just doesn't hold water.
KPQ: At the current pace additional housing units are being added, Wenatchee will not reach the necessary inventory the Department of Commerce projects is needed by 2050. Do you have any other ideas on how to do that?
Bryan Campbell: Yeah, that's why I'm so excited about that. The Affordable housing is having those units in the system and in we've tried a lot of concessions in order to get there and then you know, kind of threw that away. So to get back ahead of that is going to be very difficult, but there's going to have to be subsidized. We have to subsidize projects at some point because supply and demand just says you can't just you know, require that the developers lower their rents. I mean, it's it's a supply and demand issue. So there's going to be some of that that might self correct, because as as the Finance, Financial Market has gotten, you know, interest rates have gone up so much inflation, that now they're finding out these units that are coming online. There's several of them that they're not able to get people in there at market rates, and they're having to give you know, one month or two months, free rent in order to get people in there so the market can correct itself a little bit there and rents will probably come down a little bit because of that, but we just really need to work really hard to try to find find some affordable housing so that helps with the homeless situation. We have a lot of people that are homeless just because they can't get into housing, just just below the threshold.
KPQ: There are a couple of organizations that are going to start a safe syringe or needle exchange program in in the area. Do you believe a needle exchange program is appropriate in Wenatchee?
Bryan Campbell: I haven't looked deeply into that needle exchange program. I only know what was proposed. And I think even the community leaders I've talked to they don't know for sure where they stand on that. And I think that's because they don't have a lot of data because the questions that I asked when they when he talked about a needle exchange program I says, first of all, what's the real need? Is it because there are a lot of infections from dirty needles. If so, how many have reported to Confluence health and said you know, hey, I've got got infections from the needle injections. Those kinds of questions like in other communities of our size, where there have been needle exchange programs, and what are the results? It seems like we don't get data to make these decisions. It's more of a human compassion thing that we say we don't we don't want people getting, you know, infected want to make the safer for them. That's great. But does it really help them get out of that? situation? Or is it just perpetuate the problem by making it more convenient?
KPQ: The organizations that will operate the program are securing the grant funding, and are moving ahead with this. So the question might be, should the city consider any restriction or regulations?
Bryan Campbell: When you start trying to regulate that it gets their state laws involved. There's you know, there's your your own ordinances and your city laws. So yeah, there should be some sort of regulation. It's probably not not too much different from when he talked about, you know, selling marijuana in the city. There's got to be regulations around that for public safety reasons. So yes, it'd be some sort of some sort of regulation. You can just have people coming in and you know, exchanging needles, because a lot of this activity that's going on with the drug activity is illegal, and we're trying to get it stopped. And if we keep putting in programs that make it easier for that kind of activity continue, then I think that needs to stop. So if there's whatever regulation we can do within the law, then certainly there should be some regulation.
KPQ: How would you assess the communication and outreach to the business community and or residents in general, for example how their business might be impacted by the Confluence Parkway project or McKittrick street improvements?
Bryan Campbell: Yeah, that kind of stems from when the representative from Denny's restaurant came to the city council, and I was there and I was quite surprised, because I hadn't heard this before, but I was surprised to hear that they were planning on doing a multimillion dollar remodel of Danny's has been there for a long time. And they weren't aware until somebody from the public told him that Oh, well. You're you're going away. What do you why you're going to do a remodel and there's they're like, what? I mean, how does that how does a business like Denise find out from the public that they're potentially their business may be, you know, wiped off the map, but I guess technically it would be. That would really surprise me. So I don't know how that all came about. I know that when there's projects of that size, there's always alternatives to where roads would go. Which side of the the street you're going to make wider, that kind of thing. So it could be there could be plan a plan B plan C. And if you're talking about those different plans, you definitely don't want the word out too soon. It before you've decided which one is going to be your plan before you notify people otherwise it just you know scares way more people than it needs to. And I don't know if something you know, information leaked out about that or or how that process worked, but there definitely has to be a constant communication with the public. And, and that's what I'm finding, you know, a lot of people run for office and they talk about they want to increase transparency. And sometimes we're not sure how to do it. Well, that's that public engagement component that I've had over the years. So I'm in constant contact with the public and I'm getting constant questions about these issues. So that would continue and there would be that constant transparency with the public and then these kinds of things are not as likely to happen, but if things are going on behind closed doors, and then information gets leaked out. That's really that's really bad for for the public.
KPQ: East Wenatchee implemented an installation fee for certain groups that want to display banners on City Light posts. Would you favor or oppose a similar plan in Wenatchee?
Bryan Campbell: That seems kind of like a hornet's nest to me. You know, when the city starts talking about, if you instigate a fee for something and then how do you determine what the appropriate fee is how do you make that location for a banner? Pretty much accessible to anyone? What happens if 60 groups want want that, that that banner location at the same time? Do you just do a supply and demand and increase your price up you know absorbent amount? That seems like a heck of a lot of problems. I'm not sure that I would want the the city to be in that kind of commerce. I mean, we've got the the general public out there with Lamar that's out there. There are billboards up there that that do the marketing and you get when you pay for your marketing. I am not sure the city wants to get into that kind of a marketing business. It surprises me that that would that would be going on. But like anything, you you analyze it and you see what's the best for your, for the public and is that service available through someone else other than a government entity? Is it through through private business and that's the first place that I would I would look for that.
KPQ: Will you propose changes to the current policy on street maintenance and improvement schedules?
Bryan Campbell: I think the city has done a fantastic job with the the city services I know last time I ran for mayor my opponents whole agenda was streets, sidewalks and sewers. And that was what was on people's minds. Everybody I've talked to since I've started this I haven't heard a single question about potholes or streets or sidewalks or sewers. They've got a plan for taking care of the roads and I've heard nothing but good about that. I think they're doing a fantastic job and like I say it hasn't even hit the radar as far as people's concerns because they're they're much more concerned about affordable housing and crime especially that's going on and that's what affects them directly and immediately so the basic city services will continue to provide those and I think they're doing a fantastic job.
KPQ: How would you base decisions on whether to ask taxpayers to approve new revenue. I'm not describing a project in particular, but just what goes into your mindset on how to approach a residents for new taxes?
Bryan Campbell: Yes, and requests for new revenue seem to be pretty prevalent. You know, taxes just keep keep going up in sometimes when a city tries to get their revenues for a project and their expenses. For a project and they kind of isolate a a project or a service and say okay, this needs to pay for itself. There's just simply some that can't especially like the police department, you can't be charged enough in fines in order to you know, pay all your personnel. So there there are in the budget process, there are certainly different categories that are not going to be self sufficient, so to speak. So if you if you have to go out and increase your revenues. One thing that I would look at first, is there a way to decrease our expenses? Because it seems like that since is not looked at first. It's always like okay, we got to have more revenue. Well, we can also decrease expenses and not put that burden on the public. But it has to start with a really good outreach program. If you're talking about, you know, a public facilities district or something of that sort that's going to increase your sales tax for that revenue. Because you want to get that off balance sheet, then you've got to have a real good conversation with the public and remember who you work for. A lot of times, government entities kind of become their own entity and I mean, they are their own entity, but I mean they just sort of grow within and think that all the other revenues are theirs. Yes, but they're coming from the public and we have to get the power back to the people and talk to talk to the people.
KPQ: Why would you be the better choice for voters in this race for Mayor?
Bryan Campbell: I've been here all my life as as I've said before, I love this town and love the people more than any other place that I've been. Maui is a close second, but when actually is still an incredible place on this earth. And as I've seen over the 64 years I've been here the changes there's been a lot more changes in the last 10 years than the first 54 of course, but I'm not liking some of the things that I'm seeing. I like to feel comfortable going out at night. I like people to feel comfortable. Their safety is very important to me and of course to them and I'm seeing people now that they're afraid to go outside the house. There's the crime has gotten out of control. The graffiti has gotten out of control. I started Crimestoppers in 2001 Crimestoppers Wenatchee Valley because that's when I first noticed the graffiti getting out of hand. So 22 years later, it's just gotten worse. And I've heard people say, you know, hey, don't micromanage and don't worry about the small stuff, but I've watched the small stuff grow and it gets to be big stuff. And if you get behind it, you can't catch back up. So with the skill set that I have retired from banking, got the financial expertise I've had, you know, I'm running three businesses now. I've got the business acumen. And more importantly, I've got a collaborative leadership style and I've got really good relationships with every leader I can think of throughout the valley and I'm really excited to put all that together. And I say you use the you know, your skill set or your tools and your tool bag, or the ingredients that you need to make a cake and you can't really do without any of those ingredients. I feel like I have those. And if I don't go out there and do this now. And basically rise up in and save our small town. I'm going to kick myself for the rest of my life. So this is sort of kind of a higher calling this time and I feel it is the right time in the people I talk to you all say the same thing and just really excited about the opportunity to potentially get in there. And actually, my opponent, you know, has is has a four year commitment on the council now. He's got two years remaining, and I'm actually very excited to be able to work with him going forward. I think the two of us together can be a lot better than just one.
The General Election is Tuesday, November 7th, 2023. Ballots will be mailed out October 20th, 2023.