Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler believes each day is a chance to improve. After growing up in a “war box”-style home in Bremerton, he launched his adult life by enrolling in the Navy — an endeavor that took him around the world.

In the 1980s, Wheeler served in the combat zones of Libya, Beirut, and Lebanon. His combat service gave him a leg up when applying for a job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at the conclusion of his service. There he became a journeyman mechanic and worked as a pipe fitter, earning an MBA by night and transitioning into engineering. In 2015, Wheeler retired after 34 years.

Retired, but not done working, Wheeler pulled from previous experiences to inform a mayoral candidacy. The small real estate-investment firm he runs with his wife, Sunny, introduced him to zoning rules and neighborhoods. And his two-year stint as Bremerton planning commissioner in 2007 had allowed him to delve into the realm of politics.

“Focusing on neighborhoods really fits me,” he said, noting that he believes in intentionally designing cities so that parks are close to houses, with plenty of recreational and work opportunities nearby.

Encouraged to run for city council, Wheeler did, was elected, and started serving as councilman in 2010. Then, with support from his wife, he successfully ran for mayor as a way to give back to the city where he grew up. He took office in 2018, after knocking on 15,208 doors and walking 1,050 miles campaigning.

Through his door-to-door campaigning, Wheeler realized affordable housing was the city’s most pressing issue.

“I had all these ideas of what we needed to do as a city,” he said. “But knocking on all those doors, I developed some insights and perspectives that I will carry with me forever. I was seeing the need for affordable housing in real time. People had just been told that their rent was going up $300 a month, or they being told to leave because their home was being remodeled.”

His life, he said, has come full circle. As mayor, he now is helping reshape the same city that supported him all those years ago.

6:30 a.m. | I begin my morning workout after getting up at 6:15 a.m. These weights are the same ones I’ve used for over 20 years — I’m a big believer in conserving and maintaining items whenever I can.

7:30 a.m. | I walk to the office each morning, no matter what the weather. Today, I take my two dogs with me as part of my routine (my wife is with me and brings them home). When scheduled, I also walk to meetings in locations around the city, which gives me a pulse on what’s happening in our community. I may cover 5 to 10 miles during those days.

8:30 a.m. | My executive assistant and I put the final touches on my State of the City address to City Council for the evening. My presentation gives an overview of the accomplishments we had last year and this year’s goals for the city. 

10 a.m. | I visit the outdoor gallery to discuss preparations for installing three more artist panels on a wall along a busy street in downtown. Adding to the gallery is one of my arts initiatives for the year. 

Noon | I’m delighted to host my granddaughter, Poppy, at the office during lunchtime. She’s growing bigger every day.

1 p.m. | As part of frequent updates from public works staff, I review potential grant funding for the city’s streets and sidewalks program.

3 p.m. | I visit the new Marine 20 fire boat at the Bremerton Marina dock.

4 p.m. | After checking out Marine 20, I meet with new Fire Chief Pat McGanney to discuss this year’s goals for fire service and protection in Bremerton.

5:40 p.m. | This evening, I’m proud to present my State of the City address at the publicly televised City Council meeting.

9:30 p.m. | In the last hours of the evening, I have a chance to unwind and take care of my granddaughter to give her parents an enjoyable night out after a busy day.