Former POW Watson Making Bid For Yucca Valley Town Council

(August 4)  Bryan Dean Watson is running for town council in Yucca Valley, he said, “because I’ve got a lot of time on my hands and I figure I might be able to do something to benefit the town’s citizens.”
Now retired, Watson had an ambitious go of it when he was in the private sector. He worked as a roofer, and then went to work for General Motors in one of its assembly plants, worked in construction, then in sales, in building design, as a general contractor, owned and operated a fast food restaurant and a night club, was the proprietor of several franchised dealerships and was a property manager. He and his wife, who now boast three children, 20 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, for 25 years had a home away from home in Yucca Valley. Two years ago they moved there permanently for health reasons.
Watson said there are “a lot of things” that need to be done to improve governance in Yucca Valley. “The town budget needs to be trimmed and more important services should be added. There are still a lot of businesses that are vacant and the town is missing taxes from those closed businesses. If we get more businesses, we will have more revenue coming in. There is a lot of money being spent by our residents in other cities that should be spent here. I would like to see the council refrain from taking anything beyond the $400 they receive per month for attending meetings. Right now they are getting benefits such as health coverage that amounts to more than $1,000 per month. They should not be feeding at the town trough. If you are public servant, you should turn that down and be a public servant.”
Watson continued, “The town needs to get control of its budget and take control of its services. We are paying over $3 million for police and fire protection. It might be better suited for us to have our own police department and fire department. We should toward building our own community hospital. The five to ten minute delays in transporting accident victims or someone with a heart attack is costing lives.  We need to prioritize our spending. No one should ever mention closing the pool again. We should chop out the programs we don’t need and bring in other that will benefit our residents. We are spending a lot of money on things where we should be going in a different direction.”
When queried on what his formula for change would consist of, Watson said he was hard pressed to be precise because of the lack of transparency at Town Hall. “I am involved, but on the outside,” he said. “Where and how they are spending money is kept hidden. I haven’t been able to get down to the nitty gritty, but hopefully, the town clerk will provide me with the information so I can look at what the options are.”
In general, Watson said, “The town budget should be handled along the same lines you handle a household budget. Everything has to be prioritized. People taking care of the town have to do it like a man who is taking care of his family. You have to do it within a budget.”
Watson said he would
He said he believed the former town manager was overpaid and had been given too much in way of staff support and resources.  “We had a city manager whose total budget and perks was more than a half million dollars,” he said.  Watson advocated changing the town to one that elected a strong mayor who would take on more duties and have greater administrative authority. “I think the past city manager’s salary was too high. I think $52,000 is more than ample for an elected city mayor functioning as the  city manager. Compare what he made to the salaries and earnings of the people who live in town.”
If elected, Watson said, he would seek to institute a policy going forward that would require town employees to live in Yucca Valley. “I believe anyone working for the city except those who are now grandfathered in ought to live here. If you get your dollars here, you should have to spend them here. That way our workers will be more responsible to the town.”
Watson also said that “Down the road, I believe we should have a directly elected mayor.  If he isn’t doing a good job representing the city, the voters can throw him out. It should not be up to the town council.”
While saying he believed he was qualified to serve on the town council, Watson declined to speak negatively about any of the others running. “Others have volunteered and stepped forward,” he said, “they deserve credit for that. I don’t know anything negative about these other people running. I am running because of what I think I can help accomplish. If you don’t think ahead you don’t get ahead.”
Of note is that Watson was a prisoner of war, albeit a short-lived one. On March 7, 1962, while serving with the U.S. Army in the northeast quadrant of Laos, in the aftermath of a firefight in which his unit sustained casualties, he was being evacuated by a C-123 transport plane that was shot down after it crossed the Vietnamese border. He was taken prisoner by Viet Cong farmers. He escaped a week later, while still badly burned and malnourished but made his way to a Hmong village where he holed up in a dugout alongside a river. He was recovered by another Army unit and flown out to Thailand.
He attended Saint John Bosco High School before leaving to join the Army in 1960. He later received a bachelor of science degree from Mary Stewart University in psychology.

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