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Candidates are set for council races

The seat left open by Spokane Valley Councilman Mike Flanigan drew six candidates before campaign filing in Spokane County ended Friday, but only two incumbents in other Valley seats will face challengers this November.

Bill Gothmann, John Kallas, Ron Lippincott, Ed Mertens, Charles Parker and Dale Strom will vie for the open Position 6 seat in the primary.

Howard Herman, meanwhile, filed Friday to challenge Councilman Mike DeVleming for Position 3.

Earlier in the week, Jennie Willardson filed to challenge Councilman Steve Taylor for Position 2.

In the city of Spokane, one more candidate entered the race Friday for the South District council seat, creating a primary race in that district.

Dallas Hawkins, a former chairman of the Rockwood Neighborhood Association and current chairman of the Citizen Street Advisory Commission, said he saw the race as a natural progression of his involvement in local government.

Hawkins, 53, who owns Spokane Falls Insurance with his wife, said he first became involved in traffic safety issues when his daughter was involved in a serious accident.

“It just evolved,” he said. “I’m interested in working to keep things moving in the right direction.”

Hawkins will be in a three-way primary with Mary Verner, who was appointed to the seat last year, and Jeff Bierman, a member of the City Plan Commission.

Voters in Spokane’s Northwest district will have a seven-way primary for an open seat.

But in the Northeast District, voters won’t see a council race on their ballot until the Nov. 8 election because incumbent Al French and Valentina Howard are the only candidates who filed for that office.

In Spokane Valley, two of the council candidates also ran in 2002.

Kallas, a retired police officer, ran unsuccessfully against DeVleming in the city’s first election and also ran against state Rep. Lynn Schindler in 2000 and 1998.

“I’m a real public safety buff,” he said. “I want to make sure these citizens are getting their buck as far as enforcement goes.”

If elected, Kallas, 53, said he would work to improve Spokane Valley’s law enforcement contract with Spokane County and minimize waste in city government.

Before the Valley became a city, Mertens was an incorporation organizer. He ran against Steve Taylor in the new city’s first election for council members.

“I want to try to give back to the community what I have received from them,” Mertens said.

A retired business owner, Mertens, 75, has lived in the Valley nearly his whole life. That, he said, makes him in tune to the needs of city residents.

“My roots are right here,” he said.

New names in the council contest include Lippincott and Strom.

“I wanted to participate,” said Lippincott, a 34-year-old mortgage banker who hadn’t sought public office before Friday.

He listed job creation, keeping an eye on city finances and getting more people involved in the city as goals he would pursue if elected.

“We’ve got to keep the costs down and the service up,” he said.

Balancing the need for jobs and houses against the threat of urban sprawl is a challenge he said he’d like to tackle.

Strom, 56, is a city planner who has worked for the city of Spokane for 29 years and has lived in the Valley for 13 years.

He said he made a last-minute decision to run because “I should put my experience to use here and be of service to the community.”

Strom cited development of areas adjacent to the Spokane River and creating more programming for Valley children among the things he would promote as a councilman.

He said his continued employment by the city of Spokane would not create a conflict of interest because of the nature of his job duties.

Herman, who was a longtime proponent of forming a city in the Valley, has followed the council closely since incorporation, often critically.

“I thought it was time to either fish or cut bait,” the retired lawyer said.

If elected, Herman, 79, said he would loosen rules on public comment at meetings and push for a city takeover of the sewer system, which is run by Spokane County.

The county is simply a broker for wastewater, he said, and the city should step up to the challenge of operating the system.



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