Hi! I’m Chris Brewer, an eight-year Centralia resident who hopes to be your next Position 1 At-Large City Councilmember.
After nearly a decade of living here in the Hub City, I’ve decided it’s time to get out there and serve my community at the highest level possible.
I’m an IT guy by day, and cyclist and photographer in my spare time. Since I moved here in 2015, I’ve become involved in our community, getting to know a lot of folks here in town. Many of them encouraged me to run for City Council, and after a lot of prayer, internal deliberation, and seeking wise council, I’ve decided to go for it.
This year’s general election is Tuesday, November 5, and if you live in town, I’d be honored to have your vote for Council Position 1, At-Large.
This post is intended to explain how this election process works, my platform for running, and my qualifications for service.
How this whole thing works
Originally, there were three candidates in this race: myself, Steven Hubbard and Russell Barr. I’ve never met them in person, but at the very outset of this post I would like to state I appreciate them for running as they are showing a willingness to serve their community. I’d like to ensure any interaction we all have is cordial, respectful, and – even if we disagree – friendly.
The seat we’re competing for is an at-large seat here in the city of Centralia. There are seven seats on City Council, four of which represent the four voting districts in town, and three which represent the entire city at large. We’re competing for Position 1 At-Large.
Three candidates in the race meant we all had to take part in an August primary. Washington is a top-two primary state, which means if a race has more than two candidates, a primary is held to whittle the field down to two people who advance to the general election. Since there are three of us, the two with the most votes moved on to November. It’s not so much if you win this one, per se, but you definitely don’t want to lag behind the other two vote-getters.
I’m honored to say that with your vote, and with us all working together, I won the primary far and away over Russell and Steve. Russell placed second, and he and I will advance to the November election.
What are my qualifications?
I’ve never held publicly elected office before, but I have a variety of experience in both my career and volunteer endeavors that translate well to serving as a City Councilor.
Right out of high school, I joined the U.S. Air Force and served four years from 2002 to 2006. I was a radio and TV broadcaster, and as such I did a wide range of jobs from hosting a morning radio show in the Azores to shooting footage for news publication while deployed to Iraq.
After my Air Force term ended, I worked as a videographer for the Springfield News-Leader for a short time before returning to the Northwest. I worked for The Chronicle here in Centralia from early 2010 to early 2012 before going back to Missouri to work as a web editor for KYTV, then came back once again to Centralia in 2014 where I spent some more time at The Chronicle.
A career change in early 2015 brought me to the IT field, where I’ve been working since.
The time I spent as a reporter gave me a first-hand look into the inner workings of local government. I reported on several small towns’ council meetings, school board meetings, fire governance board meetings – you name it. It was all a first-hand civics lesson, and part of my job was distilling it all and bringing it forth to the public.
Since I moved to Centralia proper in 2015, I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering in several organizations. First, I spent time on the board of directors of Our Literacy Council, a critical program that helped advance literacy in our community and provide services such as GED study and much more. After that, I spent many Saturdays assisting at the Hub City Mission, a ministry of Bethel Church that is on the front lines fighting hunger and poverty in Lewis County. And since 2017, I’ve been on the board of directors of the Lewis County Community Trails Association, helping advocate for and fund trail construction and development for communities all across Lewis County.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to get to know people you may not otherwise intersect with, and has not only provided me with great experiences, but I’ve come to make many friends through it all.
I see serving in City Council as one of the highest local forms of volunteering.
What is my platform?
When I say that I want to step up and serve my community any way I can, I mean it from the heart. Being part of a group that sets the policy and represents our city would be an honor, and it’s a duty I see as important and sacred.
Although my motivation is altruistic, I’ve also had to make some goals that would help govern my time in elected office. These goals have come as a result of personal observations, candid and honest conversations with people in and around our community, and a good deal of outreach.
My platform has three main points:
Safety, great quality of life, and a shared buy-in to the good in our community is at the top of my list. Centralia is a great place to live, but we’ve still got some work to do to make it better.
I will encourage our police department to think out of the box and encourage ways to ensure our residents are safe in our public spaces, such as Washington Park. I will collaborate with our city planning and street staff to advocate for safe sidewalks, bike lanes, and calmer traffic in high-traffic areas. We can all be partners in fighting crime, and I think an involved citizenry helps prevent crime before it happens.
Centralia should be a place that is easy for anyone to get around, and not just by car. We need safe routes to schools, workplaces, downtown, our parks, and more.
I will work with fellow Councilors and park board to ensure we’re offering the best we can with our local parks and recreational spaces. We’re making great strides through community partnerships in enhancing offerings at parks such as Borst and Riverside, and I’d like to help that continue.
There are many more points that community livability entails, and I’d love to be able to talk about it sometime. But there are other points to discuss here, such as…
Economic Development & Housing
I support our job creators, from manufacturing and warehousing at the Port of Centralia to our locally-owned shops and restaurants downtown. Everyone has a critical role to play in the economic viability of our city, and I honor and support those who are working hard to bring jobs, sustain jobs, and contribute to the vitality of our economy.
There still exists a need for family wage jobs and housing in our area. As we continue to grow, we need to work together to diversify our tax base, attract businesses to our city, and make it easier for people who want to be able to develop housing and business in our area.
We are a growing community, and there’s a right way to grow. We need to honor our past while at the same time recognizing the need and coming together to market Centralia as a place to be.
We need affordable housing, and I will reiterate that we need to make it easier for people who want to develop this housing. We face several challenges in this area, but simply put, the City needs to do what it can to encourage development of affordable housing in our community.
I am pro-business, pro-development, and pro-affordable housing. I pledge to use my City Council platform to help our city responsibly grow, as best I can.
People I have spoken with have told me they are maxed out when it comes to taxes. The Chronicle recently reported that there has been a spike in the number of people appealing their home valuations. While the county is the entity that assesses property values, I’ve had people tell me they don’t want any new taxes at any level.
Simply put, property values have skyrocketed but people’s incomes have not risen proportionally. Many people who were okay financially five years ago are in a bind.
One of the biggest challenges of the next few years is going to be how to maintain levels of service in our community such as police, streets, and other locally-funded entities, without raising taxes on our people. I am dedicated to finding a solution on this, and while I don’t have an answer in the short term, I am listening and I want to collaborate with people who can help move the needle.
The city will need to maintain fiscal responsibility to the citizens, especially in an economy that shows all the signs of a recession.
On the Topic of Homelessness
This is such a wide-ranging and divisive topic that affects so many locally. The number of people experiencing homelessness in Centralia is on the rise, and at a recent City Council meeting our homeless task force proposed a list of ways the City can address the issue. I look forward to learning as much as I can about this multi-faceted issue in ways such as speaking with those experiencing homelessness, first-hand look at service providers, and collaborating with our homeless task force.
I recognize that many in our area who are experiencing homelessness are also dealing with mental health issues and/or addiction. I recognize their humanity and would like to find a community-oriented solution on helping them get the critical help they need.
I also recognize that addiction has played a role in open-air drug use and other criminal activity. The city needs to enforce laws on the books regarding open-air drug use, work to ensure the safety of our public spaces for the general populace, and partner cohesively with service providers to help those in need break the chains of addiction.
Giving a hand up to the homeless and providing for the public safety and security of the housed are not mutually exclusive. We should do the best we can for everybody.
Why should you vote for me?
To say it simply, I believe I am the best qualified for the City Council seat due to both my life experience and my personality. I’m willing to listen to anyone about any issue, and I want to solve problems together.
I have a vision and passion for seeing our community responsibly grow and become a place where our families can invest and continue to plant roots. This passion includes strong support for our school system, and I see it as my responsibility to help invest in our youth.
There’s a lot to learn, and I’m willing to soak up all the information I can about our community. Some people face tough issues that I had not previously considered because our lives hadn’t intersected. Building relationships with people outside my “circle” is key, and I pledge to do that.
Speaking of relationships, I know a lot of people in this community very well. I am honored to have good working relationships with people in our community who are getting things done in their areas of expertise.
This one’s important to me: I have complete independence from any group, political party, entity, or employer when it comes to making sound decisions at the city governance level. I serve with honor and integrity, and that won’t change.
Please mark Brewer on your ballot!
If you live in Centralia, I urge you to vote Chris Brewer for Centralia City Council, Position 1 At-Large. I would consider it a great honor to serve you and yours.
If you have any questions or comments for me, please feel free to reach out. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook at Chris Brewer for Centralia City Council, Position 1 At-Large.
Ballots for the November election should be mailed sometime in October. I will update this post with information accordingly as the date draws near.
I humbly ask that you vote for me, Chris Brewer, to represent you for the next four years. A vote for me is a vote for compassion, collaboration and civility. Let’s win this together!