LEAVENWORTH — Balancing the needs of businesses and residents was among the topics discussed at a recent candidate forum.
Friends of Leavenworth, an advocacy group dedicated to preserving the community’s quality of life and environment, held the forum Wednesday at Cascade High School for mayoral and City Council candidates. Moderator Duane Goehner asked a few questions before taking audience questions.
Planning Commissioner Scott Bradshaw and Upper Valley MEND founding director Carl Florea are running for mayor.
Electrician Lynn Watson is challenging Councilman Jason Lundgren, and former teacher Zeke Reister is running against Councilwoman Mia Bretz. Air Force veteran Craig Hess and Planning Commissioner Anne Hessburg are running unopposed for council.
Here are some of their responses.
There appear to be some significant gaps at times between the needs of the businesses and the needs of the residents, especially relating to their quality of life. Can you tell us how you envision practically bridging those gaps and how you prioritize those different groups’ needs?
Scott Bradshaw: “We need to make sure that the two groups are not looking at each other as separate groups. They both have, essentially, the same goal, which is to continue the success of our community. The way to bridge that is to get together and talk out those differences so that the people on both sides understand the needs of the other group.”
Carl Florea: “Right now, nearly 40% of residences, homes, within the city limits are listed as vacant. That doesn’t mean they’re boarded up — it means they’re second homes. ... I’ve got a plan to tax our tourists that can help because they are creating the need for housing. Let’s get them to help us supply some of the answers.”
Jason Lundgren: “We all live next to business owners. Some of us work downtown. We have kids on the same soccer team. The gap is not as big as one would think, but it’s going to take a concerted effort and leadership on part of the city administration, on part of the chamber.”
Lynn Watson: “It’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of studying, a lot of listening to people that come in to talk to the city about what it’s going to take to bridge that gap. We both have to get along: the businesses, the community. You can’t have one without the other, really.”
Craig Hess: “All you have to do is look at the DRB, the Design and Review Board, agenda and you see how many more people are getting signs for their new alcohol establishment. I think per capita Leavenworth’s got too many alcohol establishments and it’s not unheard of to think of a creative solution to say we can cap this.”
Anne Hessburg: “Parking issues, traffic issues — these aren’t specific to the residents, these aren’t specific to the businesses. I think coming together and addressing these through open dialogue, strong communication, can really bring us all together to the table to find solutions together.”
Mia Bretz: “The economy here is essential to residential life, and on the flipside, the businesses need to be able to have a residential community that supports their business. ... In order for people to live where they work and to be able to afford to live here, there has to be collaboration.”
Zeke Reister: “Trust-building is a real critical issue. I think we can talk, I think we can listen to each other. I don’t think that’s Pollyanna. ... That’s how you get there, in my view, is that you talk to each other to start with and you do it more than once in scheduled meetings.”