October 23, 1997

Incumbents Vying For Two Seats On Council

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Airway Heights

Two incumbents are trying to keep their City Council seats in Airway Heights, while a third position is up for grabs.

Position 1

Dale Perry is seeking a second term on the council against John Holloway, the retired public works director for Airway Heights.

Holloway led Perry by only a dozen votes in the primary balloting, so the election Nov. 4 may be close.

Perry, 44, likes to talk about the accomplishments of the council during the past four years and the accelerating growth in the small city west of Spokane.

Improvements to the zoning code will ensure that new developments have larger lots, wider streets, sidewalks and paved parking lots for businesses, he said.

Perry said the new Hayden Meadows housing development is an example of the change.

“I think it’s one of the nicest looking areas in Airway Heights,” Perry said.

He supports bringing new businesses to the city and believes the proposed Kalispel tribe casino will be more an asset than a detriment.

Perry, originally from Michigan, served at Fairchild Air Force Base and has lived in Airway Heights for more than 13 years.

He is an engineer with the state Department of Transportation.

Holloway, 68, retired from Fairchild Air Force Base in 1974 and then went to work for the city of Airway Heights. He retired from the city two years ago after working several jobs, including public works director, planning director and building inspector.

The former military policeman isn’t convinced the zoning code changes were a good thing. He believes the regulations on businesses - such as requiring paved parking - may put an undue financial burden on new small businesses.

He said he wants to change the adversarial climate that’s settled over many council meetings. “We should be working as a team,” Holloway said.

Because of his experience in planning, Holloway said he will be an asset to the city when it writes a new comprehensive plan under growth management.

“I’ve got a lot of knowledge to fall back on,” he said.

Position 2

Claude Hicks is running for a third term against Jerry McCoury, the same opponent he beat by 50 votes in 1993. Hicks led in the September primary by about 20 votes.

“I don’t have a bad word to say about Jerry,” said Hicks, making it clear he wants to run a gentlemanly campaign.

McCoury didn’t attack Hicks, either, but pointed out Hicks sometimes loses concentration and gets sleepy at City Council meetings.

“I can’t say anything bad about Claude except sometimes he doesn’t pay attention,” McCoury said.

Hicks, 62, is a busy man. He owns and operates Hicks Hardware in Airway Heights. One resident described the store as having one of just about everything.

Hicks spent 25 years in the Air Force, and then opened Hicks Hardware 21 years ago.

He said the business keeps him in touch with the city’s 4,100 residents. “I do more council business on a daily basis here at the store than I do over at the council meetings themselves,” Hicks said.

The incumbent said he likes the small-town atmosphere of Airway Heights and doesn’t want the current economic growth to go any faster.

Hicks supported building the state prison but abstained in a vote on the casino because he is neutral on the issue, he said.

McCoury, 41, is a heavy equipment mechanic and driver, currently working for Eller Corp. on sewer and water projects in the region.

He grew up north of Airway Heights and graduated from Cheney High School. He has a degree in heavy equipment repair from Spokane Community College and has served as a volunteer firefighter.

McCoury has a list of ideas for improving the city. He wants to upgrade the fire equipment, put an emergency services levy on the ballot and stop the exodus of young police officers, who leave for better jobs elsewhere.

He said the community center operation needs to become accountable for how it uses the $20,000 it receives from the city each year.

“I want to be a voice for the people,” McCoury said. “I think it’s time for a change.”

Position 3

Gerry Gadberry and Rich Miller are competing to fill the seat being vacated by Dee Mock.

Miller, a parolee convicted of murder in 1981, was the top vote-getter in the primary.

His sentence in the killing of a grain inspector in Rosalia was cut in half after he testified against the inspector’s wife, whom Miller said put him up to the crime. She is still in prison. He was released from Pine Lodge Corrections Center in 1990.

Now 37, Miller is taking classes at Spokane Falls Community College. He wants to become a drug and alcohol counselor.

He said he wants to be part of the society he lost by committing the crime.

Like some other candidates, he wants to improve the civility of council meetings.

“I try to be as real and positive as I can because I was in such a negative environment for so long,” he said.

He said he will push for a swimming pool, development of a south side park and a city takeover of the community center, which is run by a non-profit board.

Ironically, Miller’s opponent is employed at the state prison in Airway Heights. Gadberry, 36, said it’s not his place to judge his opponent.

He said he rejected suggestions he run a smear campaign against Miller. Rather, he wants to emphasize his experience as a businessman and tradesman.

Gadberry has an associate degree in mechanical systems and installed the freezers and coolers at the prison through his business.

Then, the state hired him to supervise inmate crews working on equipment at the prison.

Gadberry said Airway Heights needs an improved water system to handle growth. He wants to increase programs for youth, upgrade city streets and continue improvements to the highway through the city.

, DataTimes


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