He made headlines calling his community "Tweakerville."
Now Gary Watts wants to be its mayor.
"I'm just echoing what a good percentage of the Everett population is echoing," he said.
What Watts is echoing is the frustration of people fed up with homeless drug addicts on Everett's streets and the crime that comes along with them.
"It has to stop sometime," said Watts. "We have to ask ourselves how much more we're willing to take."
Watts filed this week to run for Everett mayor as a write-in candidate.
The Arkansas native, former Boeing manager and longtime Everett businessman found his way onto the political map this summer when he dubbed Everett "Tweakerville" and started live-streaming the addicts outside his business to the world on YouTube. People in nearly 200 countries tuned in.
The tactic worked, at least for now. The sidewalk outside Watts's auto repair shop, which once was home to up to 50 homeless people, is now deserted. Homeless advocates say they have just relocated to the banks of a nearby river.
As mayor, Watts would push a policy of tough love, discouraging churches,and other community groups from helping addicts.
"You can feed and clothe them in the daytime, but sure as hell they're gonna steal from you at night because that's how they get their drug money," he said.
A high priority under his administration would be the creation of a new "public service agency." Teams of two to three uniformed, but unarmed city employees would fan out to every Everett neighborhood and patrol the streets. They would respond to calls regarding drug related activities, freeing up police for more serious crimes.
Like with his cameras, Watts says the criminals would know someone is watching.
"Once the addict or the criminal knows if he's walking down the street at 2 a.m. looking into cars that someone's gonna be checking on him, you'll see a city will start cleaning itself up very quickly."
As a write-in candidate just two months before the election, Watts acknowledged his chances of winning are slim. He pointed to the fact, however, that nearly 40% of the voters in Everett's August primary didn't vote for either of his two opponents.
He thinks that could be enough for him to pull the upset.
"With a lot of help from a lot of good citizens, people may be surprised," he said.
Judy Tuohy, one of the two candidates on the ballot for the Everett mayor's office said, "My top priority is and will continue to be the safety of our residents, reducing homelessness, providing treatment options for those facing addiction or mental health issues and listening to our citizens. While public safety is my top concern, we have much work to do in other areas that will improve our citizens’ lives.”
Her opponent and fellow city councilwoman Cassie Franklin stated, “I am the only candidate that has executive experience at the street-level dealing with the root-causes of crime, opioid addiction, and homelessness. Using my professional experience and my time on City Council, I am also the only candidate with an actual plan that will reduce homelessness and crime in our community.”
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