Editor’s note: this continues a series of interviews with candidates up for five Sequim city council seats in the Nov. 2 General Election. This week it’s Brandon Janisse, incumbent, and Patrick Day up for Position 5. Each candidate answers the same four questions, paraphrased from the Independent Advisory Association’s cancelled forum on Sept. 1. Interviews were done in-person, over the phone and email.
Position 5: Brandon Janisse, incumbent; Patrick Day
• What do you like in the City of Sequim and what needs to change?
Janisse: “Three words come to mind: strong, yet fractured. This city is in great fiscal shape. It has competent employees that care about this community. Sequim has many things that make this a great place to live, start a family or retire.
“The fractured part is the council. There is no mystery about how the council shifts in the way it votes. Look at how many 4-3 votes have taken place over the last year compared to how many in the years before. It’s exponential.
“The citizens of Sequim are going to have a choice — does the city continue down the same road it has been over the past year, or does it elect public officials who do what is best for the city and not for special interests?”
Day: “One of the things I’m looking to keep is the beauty that we have here and the safety and security. Coming from a law enforcement background that is my utmost important.
“We need to look at changes for workforce housing, such as with fees that we charge within the city to build, and maybe rezoning some areas to put up more apartments or duplexes. Those are some things that are sorely needed here.
“Look around and see all the ‘help wanted’ signs; I just don’t think we have a young enough population of younger workers. They need to have some place for them all to live.”
• How has your career and personal life prepared you for a role on the Sequim city council?
Janisse: “I grew up in Sequim and graduated from Sequim High School in 2003. I remember when there was nothing west of Safeway except grass. My opponent has barely lived here a year.
“My main goal is to serve the citizens of Sequim to the best of my abilities, and do what is best for the city, not what’s best for me.
“I served this country while enlisted in the United States Army, 101st Airborne Div. with a tour in Iraq. I have seen the differences in socio-economic status between life here in the United States, and that of Iraq. What worked here may not have worked there. This has helped me learn to adapt to different situations that arise.
“I am not retired so I have to balance work, home life, child care and council responsibilities all in one. I find ways to meet all of these obligations. Family will always come first, but there are times where I worked a 12 hour day, then came home to sit down for a four hour council meeting.
“I work at our county jail as a control tech. I see those that have substance and/or mental health issues almost on a daily basis. I am also a foster parent. Far too often I have cared for the children of those individuals who are struggling. I bring this unique experience to the council. It drives me to help in every aspect of my life.
“My public official/law enforcement/foster parent relationships have shaped me. On the council, I can set policies that can deal with issues such as homelessness, drug abuse, jobs, mental health, and many more.”
Day: “When I came out of high school, I joined the Air Force and went into law enforcement. I did that for almost four years and that cross trained into bomb disposal. I did that in the reserves for almost nine years with just under 13 years in active and reserve time.
“I was in the (California) Department of Corrections for 27 years. I did everything in the union there, from a job steward to chapter president. Basically, I was second in charge of the prison negotiating how we ran the prison with the warden. I’ve done a lot of negotiations, not only locally but also statewide.
“Also, I serve as chairman for the benefit trust for the (California Correctional Peace Officers Association Benefit Trust), a quarter-billion dollar company that handles dental, vision and medical and other insurance needs. I’ve been doing that for 17 years. I have another year left. I just got elected for a sixth term before I retired. I know how to run budgets. I’m all about getting the biggest bang for the members, and for here it would be the citizens.
“I think it would be good if we update contracts every three to five years to get the most updated services and highest quality for citizens no matter what kind of relationship you have with them. It keeps everyone honest and makes sure you’re getting your biggest bang for your dollar.”
• What can we learn from the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic controversy?
Janisse: “This can apply to any controversy. I have said many times as a city councilor, that we tend to play defense rather than offense. The council, as the city’s legislative body, has the ability to change policy, codes, fees and other things.
“Controversies arise only at the last possible time. One has to be engaged in the process. How many people attend planning commission meetings? Or even city council meetings prior to the MAT issue and Covid? Not many. Everyone needs to take this as a lesson.”
Day: “Transparency with building things is utmost. I think it was done a little bit behind the scenes more than out front. I can tell you for almost three years in the Department of Corrections, I was an officer for the MAT clinic we had in the prison. I’ve helped ferry inmates to and from the program, and I know their viewpoints on it. From them talking to us, it is a good system if that’s what they need.
“I found out real quick, some people were in it just to get something out of it but not actually to get help. We need to make sure we have the right people in there. Not only with that, we need to ensure it doesn’t bring more problems to the city … with having people leave and end up being homeless. So we have to look at the homeless problem, which kind of goes hand in hand with that, and we need to look more at acute issues — is it mental health issues? Is it drug rehabilitation issues? Or do they just need a hand up? I’m a firm believer in a hand up.”
• How do you propose to improve the City of Sequim’s transparency as a city councilor?
Janisse: “One of the first steps would be to keep things out of executive session. Some things that have been done in executive sessions would better benefit the whole community if they were done in open sessions.
“In terms of how to improve transparency more, I am not sure how much more could be done. Anyone can place a public records request for staff and public officials’ communications. Projects that require publication in the local newspaper and/or published on the city website, are governed by city policy and RCW.”
Day: “I’m all about being as transparent as we can within regulations and city ordinances. I tend to laugh at the thought when people say the city council doesn’t tell them everything when federal and state laws say you can’t when it’s executive session, like with the last city manager who chose to keep it private versus public.
“That could make the city libel. I’ve had to remove people from the trust as a trustee, and as a city resident I wouldn’t want our city council talking about stuff that could cost the city money.
“(On transparency), I’m a very open book as much as I can be with ordinances and laws. Honesty and integrity to me is everything. No one can take it from you expect yourself.”