Josh Brinker and Carolyn Witt are once again facing each other in the municipal election.
In 2012, Brinker unseated Witt to earn a place on the Washington City Council representing Ward 4. This year Witt will try to reclaim her seat in the April 8 election.
Brinker and Witt both support Washington’s annexation plan of intent. Each said growth is good, as long as it’s controlled.
“I’m very pro growth, pro controlled growth,” Witt said. “I think annexation is a good thing. Where I live was once outside the city limits until not that long ago. If you don’t continue to grow, you kind of stagnate.”
Witt said joining the city is a good thing for potential residents.
“Growth is important, it’s healthy,” Witt said. “I’ve always chosen to live in the city because I like the benefits. I like being able to call the police, I like being able to call if I’m having a problem with my water, my trash or the street. When you’re out in the country, no one tells you what to do, but there’s nobody to call for help.”
Brinker said growing at a controlled rate is smarter and he supports the proposed plan of intent.
“I’ve always been for annexation, but we need to grow responsibly,” Brinker said. “From the original plan, it’s been shrunk down dramatically to a much more obtainable goal.”
Brinker said he favors the current plan and not the bigger plan that was previously discussed.
“At first the brush strokes were way too wide,” Brinker said. “It’s very important that we got it down to a manageable size.”
Brinker and Witt both agreed the city should look into improving the city auditorium and the whole city park area.
“We really need to have a game plan to go forward to make that a shining star of the park system,” Brinker said. “It’s kind of been left off to the side and forgotten about. ... It’s a neat old building and we’ll hopefully find a plan to bring it back to a more usable facility.”
While he supports making improvements, Brinker said it needs to make financial sense. He voted against new doors for the auditorum in early March because they were over budget.
“We’ve got to be responsible for the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said. “It’s not, ‘We need it at any cost.’ It’s ‘We need it at an appropriate cost.’ ”
Witt said it was important for the city to preserve historic buildings like the auditorium.
“I think Washington has a wealth of historic significance in the community and the state and it’s important to nurture that and take care of it,” Witt said.
Had she been on the council in March, Witt said she would have voted for the proposed doors.
“The current doors that are failing lasted 40 years because they were worth the money that we put in to them,” she said. “The idea of replacing them with a better a deal, a cheaper door, I’d rather spend the money and have it for 40 years.”
Brinker, 33, is serving his first term on the council. He works at the Bank of Washington.
He said his stronger attribute is being accountable.
“Voters should stick with me because I’m accountable,” Brinker said. “I’m making sure we stick with doing right for the city and spending money accordingly.”
Witt, 64, was a council member for six years from 2006-12. She is retired and served as the librarian in Washington for 24 years.
She said she’s running because democracy is about choice and Ward 4 residents should get to pick someone. She also said she has some things she wants to accomplish.
“I feel like I have unfinished business,” Witt said. “I bring a depth of experience that a younger person — and I’m thrilled that a younger person wants to be involved in politics — but I feel that working with the city for 24 years, I have a grasp of city government that an outsider doesn’t have.”
Brinker said he doesn’t disagree with Witt much. But he did say he doesn’t have any pet projects he’s trying to push.
“We’ve got similar views,” Brinker said.
Witt said her best attribute is that she’s not part of a clique and can be unpredictable — in a good way.
“Independence,” Witt said. “No one can count on me to know how I’m going to vote or what opinion I’m going to have on an issue. . . . I try and not make a firm decision until I’m sitting there and making a vote.”