lentttttThis is the latest in a series of interviews with the men and woman running for mayor of Bremerton. Read my previous chats with Will Maupin, Daryl Daugs, Mike Shepherd, and Carlos Jara.

Is it possible that Patty Lent is the only Harley rider alive who orders a single poached egg and toast for breakfast. No, I didn’t order the t-bone and eggs at The Family Pancake House, either — I’ve learned my lesson, and play to the House’s strengths. But now that I think about it, Lent is the second mayoral candidate I’ve dined with — after breakfast at Hi-Lo’s with Mike Shephered — to take her eggs poached. Over her one and my three eggs at the FPH recently, Lent told me why she cut short a family vacation to run for mayor, why Bremertonians think they shouldn’t pay for parking downtown, and why her competitor, Carlos Jara, would make a great small-business liaison.

“I think he is going to make a very good political person. I’d like to see him have more experience. I don’t think this is his time yet.”

Spoken like a true politician.

What was it about the race that made you drop everything and get in?

With my experience and their budget pitfalls, I really feel that they need some of this expertise that I’m going to bring to the job.

My real expertise is in Washing. D.C. We’re gonna have to use some of that stimulus money and other grant money for us to to continue having programs that we have because our revenue streams will not cover the expenditures that the city (has accrued).

Cary Bozeman and Gary Sexton were successful at bringing home federal dollars. You hadn’t gotten into the campaign when Bozeman was still in. Does that mean you thought he had been doing a good job and you thought he should continue?

I think he was a mayor for the time. And timing is everything. When he came on board he was going to bring some outside money and some visionary things to Bremerton. There are a lot of old time residents and a lot of money that is in Bremerton. I just didn’t see where our current residents were willing to step up and invest their money in changes. They were pretty content. Not with necessarily what was happening to Bremerton — because it’s been 20 years of decline — but people have a tough time with change, and that’s the only constant thing that we have is change.

So, I thought that Cary had a good start. I thought he brought in some good changes. He kept the voters involved. He had a newsletter that was positive and dynamic and upbeat. But i think that the rest of the city limits missed out on what he was accomplishing. And if you don’t have a new look you’re not going to attract new businesses or residents. He accomplished that. Now I want the rest of the city limits to take and have some of that success and some of that invigoration.

You mentioned that Mr. Bozeman did a good job with downtown and giving it a new look but that the outlying areas needed to be improved, too. What do you think needs to be done further to downtown, and can you do that as well as bring a new look and energy to the rest of the city?

I think you can. And I think I can as the mayor. Downtown still has empty buildings and empty condominiums. When I say fill in, I mean fill that in as well.

How can you do that?

I like the work-out team that’s involved. They’ve sold five condominiums within a month since they’ve been on board. They’ve sold some of the other buildings to help the Kitsap Consolidated Housing authority to get back to their focus of Section 8 and low-income housing.

With Gary Sexton and with Ron Shur with Mark Goldberg, the people that already have an interest, they just need to start the development, if their permitting or something has been slow, I want to turn that around. And some of that permitting process from the state, they’re allowing certain areas to have quicker permits. I just don’t want that to stop.

And then working with the neighborhood groups, I think that they have some things that they want to do. I’m not going to be micro-managing or doing the work in the neighborhoods, but meeting with the people collectively, especially, I think will have tremendous rewards.

So, when you think about finishing downtown, do you think it’s the projects that are in the hopper that just need to be pushed through to active status?

They need to complete, but we need more. We need to fill those buildings. I’m working with a company that is working, or at least talking to, Dupont. That’s a company that’s never been mentioned. I think that with our SKIA association now that they’re annexed, we just need to think outside the box.

What is your vision for Bremerton in four years?

The businesses have to be in those empty buildings. You can no longer have those empty buildings. The first thing I want to do is work with the people who own those buildings to see who they’ve contacted, if they already have a real estate person who’s doing it.

When I was a travel agent I had the Seahawks as a client, I had Nintendo, I had Mazda from the Mississippi, all the west coast. I had to make presentations to each of those companies to tell them that I could take care of them. Making presentations and working with companies, you don’t just invite them to the table and say we’ll do this or this for you to come here. You have to sell the sizzle. You have to tell them why.  Your employees will be happier. The quality of life. We don’t have some of the transportation problems, traffic problems. We have a lot of things because we are the perfect size. Plus we’re the perfect size for all kinds of pilot projects for the federal government and state government and for businesses that want to expand and are just looking for an area that is the perfect size. I just think our potential is there and again, it hasn’t been utilized. And I’m going to pull out all the stops.

You’ve talked a lot about being fiscally conservatives and reigning in the budget. Do you think you’re at a disadvantage, not having been on the city council and not knowing the budget in a way that ….

… Will or Mike Shepherd (have)? Our downturn started in December of 2007, and probably before. Here specifically, I think that our housing, you had to be aware that something was awry. And it just wasn’t going to continue the way it was continuing. I think that they’re at the disadvantage because they should have been aware of taking some stop gaps so that the budget didn’t get to where it is today.

You can’t take and say we have this about of money coming in in sales tax — which is so cyclical, property tax similar — and if that’s what you’re relying on to run your city, you have to be totally aware of when people are going to tighten up their spending. I think for two years they had some indications and we shouldn’t be in the position we are today. So if they were watching the store I think they should have made some of those things happen. I’m not faulting them. I’m just saying that I think that they’re at the disadvantage. And I have a fresh look, outside ideas, and I want the public to come along with me.

The other night parking came up a couple different times at the League of Women Voters panel. Will Maupin talked about one-way streets, and a couple other people talked about metered parking. What’s your solution for improving the parking problem downtown?

I’m not against metered parking. But I have to look at the budget. I have to see where they’re relying on income, the contracts they have with Diamond. I have to rely on the revenue that’s being generated in the current system. Before I can change that, I have to see where I can at least have something that offsets that.

I’m as concerned about the residents who live downtwon, and say they have a parking permit for them, but if someone comes and stays with them they can’t stay more than two hours. I think that really needs to be looked at. And again, if we have a contract with Diamond and they’ve set the rules or if we’ve set the rules, let’s take a look and see what really fits that makes it livable and also and also enhances our business. I would like you to come in and if it’s gonna take you two-and-a-half hours to conduct business, I don’t want you to get a ticket. I think that’s very negative.

Is it really unreasonable to pay $6 to park for three hours though? We’re not without parking downtown. So do you think its unrealistic for people to think that they shouldn’t have to pay for parking if they’re going to park for three hours?

Nope. And they do it in almost all the cities. People think of Kitsap, and even Bremerton, as rural. Because we still have parks, we still have forest, we still have green. So, when they think of it they don’t realize that the population changes that to urban. And everyone that lives here still wants it to be rural.

Really? You think so?

Well, I think that’s what the people that dislike what Cary was doing downtown, I think that was their objection. The change that they knew and that people were going to move in. But they’re going to move in anyway, because I think this is the most beautiful place that you could live.

— Chris Kornelis

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