Chelan-Douglas Trends e-Newsletter


Frank Kuntz Photo

Q: You are now in your second term as mayor of the City of Wenatchee. What are the major goals for your administration this term?
: I am focused. Our region needs to deal with our housing crisis. A less than 1% vacancy rate creates a situation where we actually have pent up demand due to a lack of units and choice. Renters need options and this lack of housing is hurting our region's employers who are working diligently to attract workers to great jobs including healthcare, education, research and more. We cannot begin to attract new business to our region if we do not have housing for our current population. To assist, we are working to expand our sewer system into Olds Station and Sunnyslope to encourage future housing development. Our basic city infrastructure also needs attention. Sidewalks in South Wenatchee and the overall condition of our pavement are critical issues the city is taking on during this term.

Q: How will you measure success?
: Increase in the Vacancy Rate. Number of days Confluence Health is on diversion. Pavement management index. New business recruitment success and local business expansion. Percentage of renters paying 30% or more for rent. Walkability score.

Q: Will the Trends help inform any of this assessment?
: Yes, absolutely. Chelan Douglas Trends has a number of the indicators that we will use to measure our success or failure.

Q: As a native of Wenatchee, you have undoubtedly witnessed many changes in your home city. Which indicators on the Trends site reflect these changes most to you?
: Vacancy rate trend is clearly one that we watch. It dropped 50% in one year. I watch regional sales tax numbers very closely now that the city is out of the fire business (annexed into Chelan County Fire District). We lost a bunch of property tax to the district and this will be reflected in our trends data. Our overall budget has been reduced but now sales tax makes up almost 50% of our budget when in the past it was about 1/3 of our budget. I also watch building permits. We need construction activity and building permits issued gives us a great indication of construction activity.

Q: You have been involved in public affairs for many years in the Greater Wenatchee area. Have you noticed an increased awareness of using data in making decisions?
: We talk a lot more about data than in the past. I think the data gets used as an indicator. However, I believe you still need other evidence to show you have an issue. You can say we have low vacancy rate and some people will say "so what." You tell them that the hospital is on diversion, not because the hospital is full, but because there are no nurses to work. They ask why there are not enough nurses, and you tell them there is not enough available housing to meet their needs and the nurses move to Tri-Cities or Spokane where housing is more affordable. That is a story the community will remember.