Tri-City champion Brad Fisher dies from brain cancer

Brad Fisher, a wealth manager, former Kennewick mayor and unflagging advocate for Tri-City control of the Columbia River shoreline, died July 19, 14 months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. 

He was 63. 

Fisher’s daughter, Chelsea Goff, announced his death Monday on Facebook. 

Goff said her father intended to retire when he was 70. Instead, doctors told him “to start completing his bucket list items.” 

Fisher, who worked at RBC Wealth Management in Kennewick, was a Tri-City native who graduated from Kamiakin High School and attended Washington State University. He and his wife Jennifer lived in Richland. 

He served as mayor of Kennewick in from 198889. He was best known in recent years for his work to convince Congress to return 34 miles of Columbia River shoreline to Tri-City control. 

The reconveyance effort targeted 40,000 acres of formerly private land that have been in Army Corps of Engineers ownership since the mid-1940s, when the government bought waterfront land in anticipation of building McNary Dam and the associated flood control levees that divide the river from much of the Tri-Cities. 

Fisher teamed with former U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, and Gary Petersen, retired director of federal programs for the Tri-City Development Council, to advocate for a return of the shoreline. Hastings’ successor, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, introduced legislation in 2018 but it was flagged for further review by the Congressional Budget Office. 

“I called him Mr. Rivershore Transfer,” Petersen said. “He was the one that started the process almost seven years ago. Why don’t we bring the rivershore back to the community? He was a very communityminded individual.” 

Their argument that the waterfront is a neglected gem that could anchor the Tri-Cities won support from almost every local public agency and a long list of business groups. 

Newhouse added language to a bill that called on the Department of Defense to account for how it acquired the land, which led to reams of documents showing it paid landowners for their property.  

Today, the reconveyance effort is led by Petersen’s successor at TRIDECDavid Reeploeg. 

Reeploeg said there are still details to iron out, but he is working with Newhouse and hopes to include legislation in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Fisher together with Hastings and Petersen argued that flood concerns are a thing of the past due to the network of dams that control the Columbia and snake rivers.  

With cities and possibly counties in control, the levees that were built too tall in the first place could be lowered and the shoreline maintained for recreation, with some concessions to possible commercial development. 

Opponents countered that local control would lead to excessive development. The region’s celebrated waterfront green spaces would become a luxury playground reserved for the wealthy who could afford waterfront condos and restaurants.  

Local control also would mean taking over the costs now borne by the military department, such as the massive flood control pumps due for replacement. 

Fisher traced the effort to a brief exchange with U.S. Sen Patty Murray, D-Wash. In 2014 during the grand opening festivities for the Reach museum in south Richland. Murray encouraged local collaboration. 

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