Lawyer and developer Broughton fight for mayor of Bremerton

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BREMERTON EAST – When Bill Broughton talks about removing regulatory hurdles for Bremerton developers, he mentions a very real wall standing in a Wheaton Way business.

The longtime lawyer and real estate developer was inspired to run for office this year in part because of this wall, required by the city from a company moving to the city. Viking Fence, which is headquartered at Parker Lumber’s former property on Highway 303, had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the wall, which the city said was necessary given the high density from the corridor.

Broughton, a former lawyer for the town of Bremerton, says the town is at risk of losing developers and residents under strict requirements.

“What are they trying to protect with this wall on Wheaton Way?” Broughton questioned the city’s requirement. “Maybe those are just the rules. But you don’t do things to discourage people from making that kind of investment.”

Those developmental rules – and what he says has been a lack of progress over the past four years – have propelled Broughton, a first-time candidate, into political office.

It’s a return to Bremerton for the father of four, who recently built his own house, and 37 others, on the west end of Sylvan Way in an area he has dubbed Port Washington Park. He felt that the city’s rules and requirements not only cost him extra money, but wasted too: unnecessary sewer lines, streetlights, sidewalks, in his opinion. Although he purchased specially grown street trees with compact root systems, he still had to install root barriers.

He likes the idea of ​​giving city departments more leeway to make exceptions for developers when possible.

“I want common sense regulations, I want common sense government,” Broughton said during a debate with Mayor Greg Wheeler hosted by the League of Women Voters this month. “I want a welcoming environment for businesses. Public safety is my priority.

Perhaps Broughton’s boldest initiative would come from one of the governments he represents as an advocate: the Kitsap Public Utilities District. Building on the example of the extensive public fiber network developed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Broughton believes the neighborhood fiber trunk could permeate city streets, providing lower-cost Internet access to residents and attracting businesses to the city. startup in downtown and elsewhere.

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Broughton said he would be a “one and only” mayor – a term, that’s it. He is not looking for a career in politics. But he wants to change town hall, including the hiring of a city manager, so that the levers of government in Bremerton can be managed by a professional trained for the job, and not just an elected official on a whim. head.

Bill Broughton developed the 38-house Port Washington Park at the west end of Sylvan Way.  He said he has been living there since summer 2020.

From the municipal lawyer to the developer

Broughton, 69, who grew up in a small town in Virginia, graduated with a law degree and first worked as a public defender before taking on a job as Assistant District Attorney for Kitsap County in 1979. At just 30 years old , he took a job as the town of Bremerton. lawyer.

It was there that he helped usher in the city’s charter and form of government, argued cases in the state Supreme Court, and annexed the Puget Sound Shipyard to the city, a decision that brings utility taxes to the city to this day.

In 1987 he opened his own private practice in Silverdale and was one of the founders of Kitsap Law Group. Broughton has also embarked on parallel real estate development, a hobby he enjoys for the feeling of having built a product “you can see from the sidewalk,” he said. Former president of the Kitsap Building Association, Broughton built a handful of office buildings and a few dozen homes around Kitsap. The Port Washington park where he lives has been his greatest development. But he doesn’t expect to build many more houses.

His most recent court case in Bremerton involved defending Brother Don’s on Kitsap Way against violations of the Noise Ordinance, which the attorney fought and ultimately dismissed by order of a judge stating that the order of the city was unconstitutional.

Andrew Walther, Broughton’s campaign manager since June and longtime family friend, sees the lawyer’s candidacy as an opportunity to reopen Town Hall – literally. Walther criticizes the lock of the mayor’s office that moved to the door after Wheeler’s election.

“We need someone who is not afraid of people,” said Walther.

Walther sees Broughton as an agent of change who has worked for cities and local governments for more than four decades. “He’s a force of nature,” Walther said. “Experience matters in this.”

Broughton’s plans for town hall

Broughton is convinced that he can find wasted dollars at Town Hall, starting with the allocation of a car to the mayor. A follower of “zero-based budgeting”, he would ask each municipal service “every dollar” before allocating it.

Broughton also believes it is time for the city to disclose the amount it collects in utility taxes on taxpayer bills each month for water, sewer and stormwater. He calls it “the big robbery” and hopes to lower fares with the money he saves or the new income the city raises in the budget. “At a minimum, let’s show it on the bill and justify it,” he said.

Broughton, who said he was a longtime Democrat, said he would pursue an agenda on climate change at the local level. This includes electrifying the city’s vehicle fleet, installing solar panels on city buildings, and even equipping the Casad Dam, the city’s main source of drinking water, with the means to produce hydroelectric power.

Broughton said he would prioritize annexing the mall on Highway 303 north of the city limits at Riddell Road, which he sees as generating increased revenue for the city. With its jagged borders with East Bremerton County, he also thinks it makes sense to “straighten out” those city limits to include the Tracyton areas.

He said Wheeler’s pursuit of body cameras for police and the ongoing cleanup efforts at Kitsap Lake were good initiatives. But generally speaking, he thinks the mayor “just played it safe” when it comes to reshaping the city at a time of booming development.

He said Wheeler was wrong not to do national job searches for several positions in city government, instead of promoting from within. “It’s a talent pool without fresh water,” Broughton said. “You get stagnant as a result.”

Broughton wants to see more options for developers and get rid of regulations he deems onerous. Why do developers have to put in parking spaces if they believe they can still do a pencil project, he wonders. All housing will help alleviate a severe shortage, he said.

“We have to get dense,” Broughton said. “We have to go up.”

Broughton, who doesn’t think Wheeler fought hard enough to keep St. Michael’s Medical Center in East Bremerton, is also concerned about the city’s plan for the area left by the hospital. He said it should have been verified by nationally renowned developers with “deep pockets” that would help create a bolder vision. As it stands, Broughton is concerned that the city’s plan to allow large multi-family projects will become what the old Wheaton-Riddell subzone plan was a decade ago. There the city envisioned a walking and cycling cooridor with residential units. But the plan discouraged any development until it was repealed.

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“The stick doesn’t work if you don’t have someone to hit it,” Broughton said.

Broughton believes Bremerton must fight for a new hospital, which means getting state lawmakers to abolish a system that caps the number of hospital beds in Kitsap County and around the state. He sees in it the creation of “artificial monopolies”.

He does not accept the idea that decisions made about Bremerton by outside organizations – Washington State ferries or the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health care group, which moved the county’s main hospital at Silverdale last winter – should be taken without too much fighting. .

“You can ride hell, you can take legal action and you can make a lot of noise,” he said. “We have to do better.”

Josh Farley is a reporter covering the Army and Health Care for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-9227, [email protected] or on Twitter at @joshfarley.


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