Downtown Study Divides Cda Candidates Diverse Half-Dozen Compete For Three Spots On The City Council; They Agree On Taxes, Access To Sanders Beach
Two veterans and four newcomers compete for the right to join the City Council for the next four years.
The three candidates receiving the most votes will take office.
The candidates differ in experience and background. But they agree on most issues - from keeping taxes low to doing more to preserve public access to Sanders Beach.
The most notable difference arises on the question of whether the city should have spent money for a consultant to find ways to revitalize downtown.
Independent logger Stan Smith is a dissenter. The downtown redevelopment plan is “calling for high-rises, calling for development of the park, the potential conversion of residential to commercial,” Smith said. Instead, he said, the free market ought to decide what happens.
But Smith is more galled by the language being used to describe areas of town as “deteriorating.” City leaders have explained to him that it’s necessary in order to secure the right financing.
“That’s not right,” he said.
Smith doesn’t want redevelopment to lead to commercial uses overrunning McEuen Field and Memorial Field. He’s pushing to emphasize more industrial jobs.
“I represent the loggers, construction workers, the mill workers,” he said. And the Washington State Council of City and County Employees - which also represents some city workers, has endorsed him.
He is concerned by the area’s negative image - which he said is unfair. “I don’t believe we are a town of racists living by a polluted lake by a slum,” he said.
Smith grew up around Plummer and has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 1989. He and his family log and manage a wood lot.
That’s led to tough times. Last winter’s floods shut him out of the woods for 4-1/2 months, putting him behind in his house payments and forcing him to file bankruptcy in January.
“I’ve restructured and I’m making payments,” he said.
Coeur d’Alene real estate broker Manny Olvera said he aims to preserve the best of the Lake City’s lifestyle while dealing with growth.
Growth is unavoidable. “We have to make the best of what goes on.”
Olvera’s priorities are improving streets and other infrastructure, adequate funding for police and fire services, and keeping taxes reasonable. “Taxes shouldn’t be so high that people can’t afford to stay in their homes,” he said.
Olvera has owned several small businesses, including a light manufacturing and aircraft welding company in California. He also has worked as a welding instructor.
His interest in government comes from working with the California Association of Realtors, he said.
“I believe all citizens should participate,” he said. “I believe in working toward effecting more efficient, responsive and economical government at all levels.”
Olvera believes a committee of citizens and city officials need to sit down and negotiate the future of Sanders Beach. Options for securing the property could include a trade, a lease or reducing property taxes in exchange for public access, he said.
Businesswoman Deanna Goodlander said she believes city government needs people with the vision to deal with things like a leveling of economic growth.
“We need a council that recognizes the problems that may be approaching,” she said, and lays some groundwork.
Goodlander, owner of Goodies Quik Stop and a trailer park, is concerned about inflating property values and the resulting rise in property taxes. That will price all but the rich out of the area, she said.
“This town is important to average people,” Goodlander said. “Our biggest challenge is maintaining the hold on property taxes to keep the quality of life.”
Like Smith, Goodlander wants to polish the area’s image. “We don’t need the reputation we are a racist community,” she said. “We need a vision that we are a beautiful community.”
However, Goodlander wouldn’t have voted to spend $45,000 for a consultant from out-of-state to suggest ways to revive downtown, she said.
When it comes to Sanders Beach, Goodlander is critical of the current council. It could have avoided the conflict that landed the city in court, she said.
And more action could resolve the conflict over public use of the private area. She also believes a citizens committee could brainstorm a better way to handle the beach.
But “I don’t believe we can afford to buy it right now,” she said.
Goodlander is a Coeur d’Alene native. Her father - Orrin Lee - was the first president of North Idaho College.
Perhaps no candidate knows the Sanders Beach issue like Hank Roseth. He is one of the East Lakeshore Drive homeowners who own a piece of the strip of sand.
Roseth, a private investor, said the city could find grant money to buy the beach. That’s an option he will pursue if he’s elected.
He argued that the conflict over the area, popular with the citizens of Coeur d’Alene for 100 years, shouldn’t have deteriorated into such a sharp spat. The city has only given it lip service, he said.
Instead, the council should have been looking for outside help to buy the beach. Or it could have worked out an easement with property owners that didn’t require spending tax dollars, he said.
Roseth worries about whether the fire department has adequate staff and equipment, considering the community’s growth. He supports the downtown revitalization plan.
Spending $45,000 on a consultant was a wise investment, he said. Now the city should consider helping the merchants lure a major attraction - a theater, a satellite Bon Marche or the like.
Along that journey, Roseth is not against finding a new use for McEuen Field. “I’m not sure it’s fully utilized as a baseball field,” he said.
Roseth also said he would exercise his business skills in dealing with the city budget, and would ask tough questions about the most efficient way of accomplishing the city’s tasks.
Two years after being appointed to fill an unfinished term on the council, attorney Sue Servick is ready for more.
“I really enjoy public service,” Servick said. “I like working on the council because you deal with a huge variety of issues.
“I also enjoy when I can help people,” she said of calls she gets from constituents.
A Coeur d’Alene native, Servick earned her associate’s degree at North Idaho College and her bachelor’s degree from Boise State University. Her law degree is from the University of Idaho.
She worked as a Kootenai County public defender for two years. Servick has been in private practice for 10 years, much of it defending clients in civil suits.
Servick puts a lot of stock in reviving Coeur d’Alene’s downtown business district. A healthy downtown is important to the entire community, she said.
She serves on the Lake City Coalition, which will shepherd the makeover of downtown.
Servick will continue to look for ways to increase the efficiency of city government while reducing property taxes, she said. She will emphasize citizen involvement in decisions.
Both Servick and her father learned to swim at Sanders Beach. So she is sympathetic to the local attachment to the area. But it’s not a place for city government to intervene. The land belongs to the people who own homes along East Lakeshore Drive, she said.
The best alternative is for the neighbors to get together with the property owners and work out a way they can “use the beach at the invitation of the property owners.”
Nancy Sue Wallace
Veteran Councilwoman Nancy Sue Wallace said this will be her last run for City Council.
“Coeur d’Alene will face many challenges in the coming years and I want to be part of the team that takes Coeur d’Alene into the next century,” Wallace said. After that, it’s time to invoke her own term limit.
Well-known as a tireless civic volunteer, Wallace first was appointed to the council in 1991. She was elected later that year, and again in 1993.
Also a member of the Lake City Coalition, Wallace is a strong advocate of downtown redevelopment. The entire town will benefit, because the template that the consultant crafts for downtown can be used along Northwest Boulevard and in Midtown, she said.
Wallace also is charging ahead with an “Adopt-a-Median” program that she said will help the appearance of city streets. “We need to look beyond the fundamentals the next four years.
“I think we need to work on our community pride.”
A good starting point is more projects like the Fort Sherman Playground Park, which was organized by Kiwanis, built by volunteers and didn’t cost a single tax dollar.
Wallace said her track record speaks strongly for her candidacy. She’s been part of the team that has kept taxes low while expanding city services, she said.
Wallace earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington.
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