WENATCHEE — Two members of the Wenatchee City Council and a political newcomer are seeking the at-large District A seat on the council.
The candidates are family counselor Jorge Chacón and councilmembers Linda Herald and Lyle Markhart.
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?
Chacón: My top priority is ensuring that every person has the opportunity to be informed and heard and be involved in city decisions that impact or affect their lives. Foremost, making myself accessible at every opportunity possible to the people, encouraging, engaging in an honest dialogue and attentively listening to their opinions with the intent of representing the wellbeing of the people. My advocacy will be to ensure and nurture a collaborative and respectful relationship with the other councilmembers and at every opportunity represent the voice of the people. Building relationships, providing facts and thoughtful responses is the key for advocacy and building cultural bridges.
Herald: Homeless population. While the homeless population has dropped by 11 percent over the past year, the chronically homeless have increased by 56 percent. This is serious, as these are the people who would rather live on the streets than have shelter provided for them. It is very important to continue our outreach programs to work with these people to provide mental health treatment, get them into shelters, educate and work with them to become healthy, productive members of our community.
Markhart: I would say economic development and jobs are the top priorities. I am currently serving as secretary on the North Central Washington Economic Development District board. I will be working with the economic development office of the city to achieve positive results for Wenatchee.
WW: Do you support the proposed Confluence Parkway? How else might the city help relieve traffic problems?
Chacón: Yes, I support this project. When a project has been presented to the public and all ideas considered, the city representatives should be trusted to develop the most viable and effective plan while also considering those that are affected.
Herald: Absolutely. If you have ever been on North Wenatchee Avenue during peak traffic, you will understand why Confluence Parkway is very important. It is a bottleneck. North Wenatchee Avenue is reaching maximum capacity. Confluence will provide increased traffic capacity with an uninterrupted route and directly connect us to Highway 97A and Highway 2. This will alleviate the congestion that we currently experience.
Markhart: Confluence Parkway is extremely important to help alleviate the congestion on North Wenatchee Avenue. We are looking at using queue lanes to facilitate the rapid movement of Link vehicles and avoid traffic backing up behind them. We have to also look at alleviating congestion on South Mission Street.
WW: What’s the best way to address the local housing crisis?
Chacón: There is amazing work being done throughout our community by various organizations, such as the Women’s Resource Center, which collaborates with homeowners who can provide affordable housing for our community. By creating a plan of action that addresses our housing crisis like the WRC has done, we can work collaboratively to fight homelessness in our community and make housing more affordable. It appears that working together with existing community partners and organizations will not only provide a solution, but also create an atmosphere that promotes cohesion, thus making us neighbors.
Herald: It is important that we work with local builders to provide tax incentives for the construction of new homes — particularly, multifamily housing. Codes must be updated to streamline the permit process for builders.
Markhart: The local housing crisis is impacted by the fact that this side of the Columbia is limited in the amount of land available for development. Wenatchee needs to build up. By that, I mean apartment buildings and condos. I have been working on the Our Valley, Our Future housing committee to find ways to make building “missing middle” housing better.