PORT TOWNSEND — Greg Brotherton hopes to be returned to his seat as Jefferson County commissioner for District 3 so he can continue work begun during his first term.
“I strive to work for the people of Jefferson County with action, compassion and teamwork on issues that affect us all — affordable housing, broadband and regulatory reform,” Brotherton, 50, said Monday.
Brotherton, a Quilcene Democrat, is challenged by two Quilene Republicans: Marcia Kelbon, a chemical engineer and attorney, and Jon S. Cooke, a state committeeman with the Jefferson County Republican Party and former county GOP chairman.
A top-two primary election on Aug. 2 will narrow the field to two before the general election on Nov. 8.
Brotherton — who said he plans a kickoff campaign party at Quilbilly’s Restaurant and Taproom at 294793 U.S. Highway 101 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday — said he feels that most of a county commissioner’s job “is not really partisan.”
“It’s how we interpret land use and represent the community,” he said, adding that he brings “an attitude of inquiry” to meetings among stakeholders.
“I try to really represent the folks I’ve met to bring together all those perspectives. … My goal is to be a commonsense interface between the people and the government.”
Brotherton named among his accomplishments his work as chairman of the county commission to lead the county through the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also talked of housing, beginning with the homeless encampment on the Jefferson County Fairgrounds that since has been moved to the Caswell-Brown Village, off Mill Road in Port Townsend, which is being monitored by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP).
People living at the fairgrounds campground cost the county fair association money both in lost revenue and expenses, Brotherton pointed out. Neighbors were unhappy with the encampment, and the place had health and safety issues.
“Half of their revenue came from the campground,” which couldn’t be operated as such. “The county put a lot of money into it, but it was just Band-Aids,” he said.
Brotherton said he was among those who spent a lot of time with city residents, human service agencies personnel and other, “and kept having meetings until we could find a solution.”
Through the Caswell-Brown Village, “we found real solutions to what was a concrete problem on the streets of Jefferson County,” Brotherton said.
Now, those living there are “turning into a community,” according to Brotherton, who said residents had volunteered to adopt the Larry Scott Trail to keep it cleaned up.
“It feels like we’re really moving the needle,” he said.
Brotherton, who has served on the OlyCAP board since 2019 and was recently tapped to chair it, also referred to OlyCAP’s Seventh Haven, a $15.4 million, 43-unit affordable housing project at Seventh and Hendrick streets in Port Townsend.
He said it is a “game-changer,” one bolstered by the county commissioners’ approval of a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for housing projects, Brotherton said.
He also talked of the joint project by Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County and the Jefferson Community Foundation to build workforce housing in Port Hadlock, to which county commissioners approved American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Housing is a basic element in solving other social issues, such as mental health and joblessness, according to Brotherton.
“We’re looking for a pathway to add permanent housing,” he said.
“I firmly believe in the Housing First model. Now, we’re not pure Housing First, but it is easier to deal with whatever issues you have when you have a place where you can go to feel safe.”
Without adequate housing, “we still pay for it in emergency room visits and police interaction,” he said.
Brotherton also spoke of the passage of a “new, defensible” outdoor shooting ordinance and of a law restricting marijuana processing in the county, both accomplished, he said, “through work with my seatmates to a consensus that supported the values of the community.”
He said such “soft leadership” has helped work with the Jefferson County Public Utility District to increase broadband coverage.
Brotherton said he wants to continue to work on regulatory reform, looking into “unintended consequences” so as to fix codes to “make it easier for people to build on their properties and still keep our communities safe.”
“I want to connect the wonk to the person on the street in District 3,” he said.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].