photo(5)This is the latest in a series of interviews with candidates for mayor. My conversations with Daryl Daugs, Will Maupin, and Mike Shepherd are already online. My chat with Patty Lent will be live … soon.

Carlos Jara’s “campaign headquarters,” Fritz Fry House, serves pale ale, Stella Artois, and Belgian fries. And if he gets his way, downtown Bremerton will be filled with a lot more similar businesses: locally-owned, frequented by locals and tourists, and serving plenty of beer. In fact the guy who came of age in Austin, Texas at the same time that micro brews started taking off in town, says he envisions downtown Bremerton to be something of a microbrewery district.

As the youngest candidate lining up for the office of Bremerton, he also has the least amount of political experience. But as the owner of Harborside Market at the ferry terminal, he says his experience as the executive of a small business in Bremerton more than makes up for his lack of time in elected office.

For a guy who spent 13 years climbing the ladder at MCI/Verizon, do you think you’re skipping a few rungs by jumping from small-business owner to mayor?

No, No. The city, no matter which way you look at it, is a business. I don’t consider it a gargantuan jump. I’ve been my own executive for five years now. The basic premises of doing the right thing are there and leading by example are there.

I’ve managed a large group of people. I’ve managed budgets. Managing in a frugal manner is what’s key here. As a small-business owner, that’s something I excel at. Who else would you want as a mayor rather than somebody that believes you need to operate on a very tight belt. You need to be developing rainy day funds, and more importantly snow day funds.

Had you been on the city council for a number of years and had your hands in the inner-workings of the city, would that have made you more qualified?

I don’t think it would. City council is the legislative arm of the city. It’s not the executive arm of the city. So, if you’ve been a legislature for a long time, it might make you a good executor, but when you’ve been your own executive for a while, I think that’s more of the synergy you’re looking for in a mayor.

Cary Bozeman’s philosophy seemed to be that we need to create a thriving downtown to bring in more revenue and that will help us to fund the rest of the city. Mike Shepherd ran against him with the philosophy that by focusing all of our effort on downtown and fountain parks, we’re neglecting the rest of the city. Do you fall into one of these camps?

I bring a different element to it. I bring an element of an actual discussion of what we can do to evolve as a community. The reason I was the last to announce my candidacy is because I was actually waiting to see who was running, and who I could throw my support behind. When I saw the same circle of people running, the same ideas were running, is how I felt as a Bremertonian. Nobody really stuck out and said  “Oh, yeah, this person is the one that I think will focus on what I think is the most important which is business development, focusing on small businesses.”

The mayor, for all the good things he did in the community, you never really saw him in other businesses down here. How often would you come downtown and see him in Fritz? You sure saw him at Anthony’s. You sure would saw him at Starbucks. I don’t believe that. I would be in every business in the community, checking in on them. Because I’m part of that business community. The most important thing for me as mayor for me is checking in on them.

The mayor did so much of this with federal dollars….

It’s not just the mayor. There’s a person that you’re leaving out. Gary Sexton had a lot to do with that. Gary’s still around.

Patty Lent likes to tout her direct line to Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Are you going to be able to push those kinds of buttons?

In my role as an account manager at Version, I excelled at being able to pick up the phone and get the right people. There’s no reason why I couldn’t get Maria Cantwell or Patty Murray. You call their office, and their going to call you back because you’re a constituent.

What are two or three of your top priorities?

Definitely work with city council and address the spending. If you don’t know this by now, we had too many eggs in one basket: auto sales, general construction, and heavy construction. And those are the big three that took the biggest hits in the recession. The city wasn’t really proactive in diversifying what we’re doing as a community to water down those components and increase some other ones.

So, the city council could have done something?

They could provide the right incentives. If the biggest complaint the city has been getting for years is, “I’m not gonna be in Bremerton because of the (Business and Occupation tax.” City council has done a step into it which is gradually over the past couple years increased from $20,000 to $40,000 to $60,000 the gross receipts being exempt from B&O. It has to be a lot bigger than that.

All the candidates are saying the B&O tax is what’s hindering us. So, you think you can get rid of it faster?

What I’m suggesting is that I would working with city council to move to $250,000 of exemption. The first 250k of revenue for business. (Note: Jara explained that he would develop a metric to eventually eliminate the B&O completely, once sales tax revenues overtook the B&O’s current contributions to Bremerton’s budget.)

— Chris Kornelis

For more on Carlos Jara, visit www.vote4carlos.com.

And be sure to check out all of Bremelog’s coverage of the Bremerton mayor’s race.

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