LEAVENWORTH — When Mayor Cheri Farivar announced she would not seek a third term this year, two candidates stepped up to replace her.
Planning Commissioner Scott Bradshaw and Carl Florea, who helped establish Upper Valley MEND, are running in the Nov. 5 election. Voting starts Oct. 18.
The Wenatchee World asked both candidates to submit written answers to the following questions, using up to 200 words. They were not allowed to see each other's answers.
WW: What's your top priority for the city, and how would you advocate for it?
Bradshaw: There are four issues that stand out: parking, housing, traffic and infrastructure. My top priority is to come up with both short- and long-term plans and goals to address these issues.
Florea: I want to keep this city an active, working community where people who contribute to its economic life can also live here. A true community is a diverse group of people made up of different ages, income levels, races and religions all working side-by-side to build the community together. This ideal of community is threatened most significantly by the lack of workforce housing. Our housing is attractive to people looking for second homes. This has driven prices beyond what the local workforce can afford. We need to work with all parties, businesses, institutions and governments to address this with a multi-pronged approach.
WW: How can the city balance its tourism-driven economy with maintaining residents' quality of life?
Bradshaw: Communication between the groups needs to be open and freely expressed, and both groups need to hear and understand the other's concerns and then work together for the common good.
Florea: What I have said is that we need a "second miracle" in Leavenworth. The first miracle was the transformation from a dying railroad and lumber town with no real economic engine into the Bavarian town with a strong tourism economy. This miracle has been tremendously successful as an economic engine. The irony is, what was first dreamed as a way to save the community, is now threatening that very community. We must refocus on the residents now. I propose to have a series of public visioning meetings to give us all, businesses and residents, a chance to rethink our future. What does a sustainable future look like for us, and how will we build that together? This is something that will take as much energy and commitment from the residents as the first miracle did. But without this effort we will slide into being just a resort stop for the wealthy, and not a true, diverse community at all. Some say it is too late But I say it is never too late to do the right thing.
WW: What's the best way to address the local housing crisis?
Bradshaw: The recent housing study has made several recommendations that now need to be addressed. The Planning Commission is working hard to incorporate those recommendations into city code. I see the best way to start to resolve the issue is to incentivize developers to increase the housing inventory with smaller and less expensive units.
Florea: The only way I can see this being significantly addressed is by creating a consistent funding stream to bring dollars to the table. The city has been doing quite a bit through its planning commission to address housing types, trying to get more diverse options and encourage smaller homes. But without a means to bring funding to the table, I am afraid that the city will simply watch as the homes created by these efforts are themselves bought as second homes by those who have more disposable incomes than the local workforce. I will work to implement a tax on every hotel/motel room — similar to the tax used to promote tourism, only this tax will be used to provide workforce housing. Since our housing crisis is a direct result of our tourism economy, it makes sense to ask those who visit here to help us address this issue. These dollars would be used in partnership with private developers and nonprofit housing groups to build rentals and starter homes dedicated exclusively to our workforce. We may not "solve" the problem entirely, but we certainly can take significant steps in the right direction.