The following is Watershed Voice’s candidate questionnaire for November’s contested Three Rivers City Commission races. We will run all completed questionnaires in the order they’re received prior to Election Day. Torrey Brown filled out our questionnaire, these are his answers.
Editor’s note: The formatting and content of this questionnaire are presented as they were submitted. Incumbent Torrey Brown is running against challenger Jason Reeves, who did not return a questionnaire.
Name: Torrey Brown
Party affiliation: N/A
Are you an incumbent? Yes
Family (optional): Wife and 3 children
Have you previously held public office, or served in a public leadership role? If so, what is your experience, and what are some of your accomplishments?
I am currently an At-large city commissioner, I feel that I have brought integrity and have stood up for the minority and marginalized communities.
How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent?
Since 1990 with an 8-year stint in Phoenix from 2005-2013
Many residents have expressed concern over the water in the city. How will you address Three Rivers’ water quality and cost issues as a commissioner?
The 2 are intertwined. The state and federal governments have allotted 20 years to fix all water systems. Us as current officials have taken a more proactive role, as opposed to other communities that are waiting for the state to fund this, in tackling the quality issue by getting testing done now so we can get an accurate assessment of how many homes are affected by this issue.
It is estimated to cost roughly between $4,500-$7,200 per home to remedy the issue. We are figuring around 1,400 homes which means an end total of $6,000,000 to $10,000,000. The city does not have that, so instead of having a large hike to the water bills when the total is known, we did a smaller increase to build a special fund to tackle this issue. We have been in constant communication with state officials to attempt to get aide with this matter but have yet to get any relief.
As far as the current water bills, I and the other commissioners plan on reducing the water bills if and when we get help from the state to take care of the water.
Affordable housing has been identified as a concern in Three Rivers. How will you plan to address the lack of affordable housing in the community as a commissioner?
This is an issue that I have been vocal about from before I ever considered becoming a commissioner. The lack of affordable housing has been one of the contributing factors of our Homeless population. I have been on record asking the city manager and staff to try to find developers who are willing to build quality affordable housing for our community.
The problem here is finding a developer that is willing to build for the community instead of for profit. I have been researching different developers in the area and will be broadening my search area to find one that does. I support and have worked with Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County in the past and feel that they do an amazing job at helping people to get into homes but they can only do so much.
Recent conversation has highlighted the needs of the unhoused population in the community. How will you plan to address those needs as a commissioner?
I am in support of an organization that is willing to come into our community and aid with this issue. The H.O.P.E program is trying to establish a place to help. Currently there is Keystone in Centreville but they help the entire county so they are overrun with the current situation. I feel that more establishments willing to assist will help.
Other than the above, what other issues do you believe are important to address in the Three Rivers community? What measures will you pursue to address those issues?
I have also advocated for a community center in the city. Somewhere the offers things for the youth of our community to be involved in to give them something to do other than walking the streets, the old idled hands narrative.
Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?
I chose to rerun because I feel that I committed to making a change in the community for the people, and I do not feel that I am done yet. I have more work to do, and if the people will have me I am excited to continue working for them.
How will you know that you are accurately representing your community?
I constantly get feedback through phone calls and facebook messages letting me know that what I am doing is appreciated and to keep up the good work. The way that I measure my success in this role is by the response from the community.
Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?
I am available for any questions at any time. I want everyone to know that I put the residents of Three Rivers first in any decision that I make on the commission, and if you have input on any issues that we are tackling I welcome it because I am there to represent you as a whole, not my own beliefs.