CHELAN — Three candidates with city government experience are running for Chelan mayor this year.
Mayor Mike Cooney faces competition from Bob Goedde, who served as mayor and councilman for two terms each, and Stan Morse, a local attorney who served one term on the council.
Voting starts July 19 for the Aug. 6 primary. The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.
The Wenatchee World asked the three candidates to submit written answers to the following questions, using up to 200 words. They were not allowed to see one another’s answers.
WW: What’s your top priority for the city, and how would you advocate for it?
Cooney: My No. 1 priority is to solve our housing crunch. We have a less than 1 percent vacancy rate and we need all spectrums of housing — single family homes, multi-family, etc. I have been working with others to address the ‘missing middle’ housing need by way of forming the Chelan Valley Housing Trust. The goal is to build 300 homes that will remain permanently affordable for those making $30,000 to $50,000 annually.
Goedde: Traffic corridor and traffic safety within the city limits. I would engage the Washington State Department of Transportation with the city’s public works director and planning director.
Morse: Determining how much growth is “too much” to sustain the small-town feel of the valley.
WW: How can the city balance its tourism-driven economy with maintaining residents’ quality of life?
Cooney: My main focus is to serve the full-time residents of the city. Tourism plays a key role, and should be recognized as an economic driver for our town, but needs to work to better our everyday lives. Tourism and agriculture are our main industries, and as mayor, I’d like to see a third leg developed: clean light industry. This sector is not so reliant on weather conditions.
Goedde: I would instigate a strong vacation rental policy, including a service charge to owners to help build an affordable housing fund to help local employers and employees.
Morse: By supporting smaller events that won’t overtax parking, people movement and existing facilities.
WW: What’s the best way to address the local housing crisis?
Cooney: The best way is to focus on our top need: attainable homes for our middle class. It is critical to provide homes for those that want to remain residents, for those that grew up here and want their own home, for current and potential new businesses to have a stable workforce. This has to be a community effort — meaning, those that have the means to become part of the solution. As of now, the gap between average median incomes and average median home prices makes the leap nearly impossible. The city has stepped up this past year and addressed zoning, hookup fees, permitting process and more to give an assist. Government will not be the sole answer, community will!
Goedde: Advocate for affordable rental housing, i.e. apartments. I would also work at giving developers who want to build affordable housing lower hookup fees for water and sewer as long as they legally agree to keep the housing affordable.
Morse: By encouraging the building of modest houses through a graduated fee structure.