Businessman Hartman is in a 3-for-2 primary battle against David Linn and Patric Hayes in the Position 7 primary (top two vote winners Aug. 3 move on to a November head-to-head general election fight). Hartman’s answer to the NBN questions:
-What, if any, do you assess to be major problem areas in OS — and what if any are your plans to fix them?
There are many things that the city needs to work on, but the most important first step is to have a functional council. The 7 people need to strive to work better together, and to certainly communicate better together. There needs to be a planning meeting with all 7 so they could map out an agenda for the city, that they can ALL support, so they can start being proactive, chipping away at projects. There will always be issues that come up that need the councils immediate attention, but the “list” of priorities should ALWAYS be the priority to go back to, so that they can feel like they are actually accomplishing things. Focused, united and working together for the betterment of the city. We have great leaders on the council now. With a little work, I think great things will be achieved. But make no mistake, I could have 20 top priorities, but I would need the rest of council to feel just as passionate about those priorities as I do, or they will never be realized. This is a TEAM sport.
-OS looks to be on pace for record revenues — what should the money be spent on?
We need to determine what the budget looks like with ALL employee openings filled. Once we determine what that looks like, with more police, fire, ems, planning, building and other departments at full capacity, then we will know what we can work with. I’m not so sure we have that big of a “windfall” if you take future payroll into account.
-What are your thoughts on the firing and subsequent lawsuit of former OS Fire Chief David Blathke?
People get fired all the time, and people sue all the time. It’s a fact. I have not found 1 person that has any of the “behind the scenes” facts for me to make an intelligent decision as to whether the mayor did the right thing or the wrong thing. We obviously know that we lost, but I’ve seen all kinds of people win lawsuits that shouldn’t. But without any facts, I can “Monday morning quarterback” with the best of them. When you have a personnel issue, the first thing you do is call a specialized labor attorney to get guidance as to the proper steps to take, so that all the rules of employment law are being followed. Even when you do that, you sometimes lose. I have no idea about the facts, but I sure don’t like the outcome. I would love to know who gave us guidance in this process though, because I wouldn’t use that lawyer again. One thing I do know, is every council member I have spoken with likes this current Chief WAY better than the last one.
-What “fresh” ideas do you have to tackle the weed/algae problem on the city’s fresh water system?
I am no expert, but the first place we need to start is to actually get an agreement among council members for a dedicated funding source for the fresh waterways. Nothing is ever going to happen if we just keep talking about it every election cycle, and then drop it on the volunteers to take care of afterwords. Funding source decided, fresh waterways advisory board and fresh waterways corporation to sit down and work out a plan, while involving citizens, then bring to council to review, gather final public input, and vote.. Those are my steps.
-What is your track record as far as listening to and responding to complaints from citizens (and/or customers)?
I have 40 years in the retail business. I have achieved the highest customer awards from ALL of my manufacturers for customer handling and service over the last 35 years in the automotive business. Acura, Ford and Lincoln, Toyota, Chrysler, and GM. Everybody in retail knows its not easy dealing with the public. We goof up daily, and we do our best to fix it so the customers stay loyal. So far it works 99% + of the time. We touch 3000 customers a month at all my stores, and the managers are not buried with complaints. When we do, we handle it. The city is no different. Every department needs to interact with our citizens (the customers) in a friendly professional way. Our biggest challenge now is the departments are understaffed, which makes it impossible for a quality customer experience. We have to fix this for the satisfaction of our city employees, and their coatomers
-What are your thoughts on the golf course?
The golf course is a huge asset. We have to take its impact seriously. Westport is putting money behind a brand new one, and we need to be on top of ours. The council and Mayor need to sit down and decide with the lessee (Zander) what the next 20 years looks like, so we can have along term plan for the course, so we can work that into our budgets.
-With a strong field of candidates — why should someone vote for you?
People should vote for me because I have the best chance over my 2 opponents, at working well with all the council members and the current and future mayors. I have a proven track record of working with boards in the past, that weren’t getting as much accomplished as they should, or were slightly dysfunctional, and as part of the team, helping them turn into high functioning, highly successful boards. I have the background to digest budgets and forecasts, and have personally managed 150 employees. It gives me a great advantage, that the citizens can rest easy with. I know how to look at a budget and help us save money, while at the same time, I know how to spend money in a way that gets us the best return. I will be a valuable asset to the other council members. I will not let them down or the citizens down. It’s team work.
-How would you communicate with residents especially in times of crisis like the pandemic?
We need to continue to invest in the city website. I know people use it constantly, and the ones that do, really like it. For the residents that use it occasionally, it needs to be more intuitive, but that’s a normal progression with sites, that they are continually updated and made more user friendly. We use the radio station now for information, but I think a better use of Facebook would be warranted for the city. Over time, Facebook will probably fade, but for now, it should have been part of the solution. For me, I want to have the conversions with council continue, and they can be live (preferably) or in times of risk be via zoom, If I am elected, I have decided a live meeting every two weeks seems best. I know some council folks have weekly meetings, but it seems they are poorly attended, and I don’t like having meetings for meetings sake. If the situation changes, I can easily adapt to a different schedule. If I am elected, I would like my own City Council website and Facebook page. I think a lot of daily business could be handled there as well. And as always, email and phone calls handle the majority of business.
-What is your vision for the town? Another Seabrook? Add marina like Westport? What do you picture the future to be?
We have many issues to address in Ocean Shores over the next 50 years. We are not Seabrook. Although current homeowners might like that $600 to $800 per square foot value for their homes, its not likely anytime soon. I see many projects that we need to tackle and plan for in our future. I can start with working on a grant again for the Pt Brown entrance to town, so we can have a safe assessable family friendly down town area. I do not advocate closing Pt Brown under any circumstances. Instead I would get the stakeholders together and find a way, using the greenbelt, to accommodate all the business and visitor needs. We have plenty of room to make this happen and keep the peace. We need to address the Hotel needs as well. We need fire protection buffers and we need a plan to cut back the scrub that is growing up and blocking the 2nd floor views. We need the Hotels healthy so they will reinvest in themselves and keep them viable. We’ve already addressed the fresh waterways previously,, but lets throw in there the boat launch and the marina. We need the Quinault Nation to make this property a priority for restoration Could there be team work with our Port of grays Harbor? Potentially a state institution? We need it on councils list of priorities so again, we can stop talking about it every election year, and start with a real partnership of some type. We need to have a long term plan for our City buildings and infrastructure. Its a boring part of councils job, but we have to determine how we are going to fund our future infrastructure needs (most of it maintenance and repair or replacement of existing assets). I really would like to explore the viability of connecting the city water supply to the county wells in Hogan’s corner, so in the future, if we had an emergency, we could have drinking water flow both ways for any needs. There is always the jetty, and we need our representatives in congress to make this a priority for the Army Corps, to have in their maintenance budget every 20 years without fail, so we aren’t always asking for help at the last minute. I’ll stop here, We could go on forever.
-How do you feel about dumpsters on the beach and affordable housing?
It will be to everyone’s advantage if the city provides trash receptacle all around Open Shores. The closer to where the garbage is collected increases the odds of people using them. It will save us all headaches. The one complication to this is when I see local citizens using these dumpsters for their household trash, but worse, old couches and household items they don’t want to take personal accountability for disposing of properly. Its always the few that ruin it for the masses, but I think the good outweighs the bad by continuing the practice of the city providing trash receptacles.
Affordable housing is a whole other dynamic. If people travel to other cities, many would say Grays Harbor already has affordable housing. We have always been known for our more reasonable housing prices. This last year and a half, we are starting to catch up to the rest of the state, and it puts pressure on folks that are at the lower end of the pay scales. I believe in the free market system when it comes to issues like this. We need to make it attractive for investors to invest in multiple unit residences, and apartments and the like. Local government might be able to play a small part in helping, but when our State and Federal governments have put rent moratoriums on landlords, I have seen investors run, not walk away from affordable rentals, because they cant afford to not have the income stream, since they have underlying mortgages as well, that they are responsible for. Our city has better zoning than virtually every other city in the county, allowing many different types of affordable housing alternatives. I support our current zoning laws and areas. I’m open to reasonable ideas that might make it even more attractive to investors to help, but I haven’t heard of any idea that is realistic yet. With continued discussion, maybe an idea comes forward that would actually be possible to implement.
What do you think about more crosswalks in the business area?
Crosswalks are a great short term solution along Pt Brown, as ;long as we are prudent with our spending.. We really need to get back on track with a complete plan that the stakeholders can agree to, that would redevelop the entrance to our town, with grant money, that is safe, accessible, and has a family friendly design. I would never advocate closing this street. We have plenty of land in this corridor to come up with a solution that all would embrace.
-How do you feel about off-leash dog parks?
I am 100% for an off leash dog park. Virtually every city of size has them. This isn’t an earth shattering idea. It’s timely, and we have spaces that can accommodate the park. Our forefathers actually included a park in Ocean Shores’ original plan 50 years ago. It’s about time, I say.