RATHDRUM – Rathdrum’s hotly contested City Council race features eight candidates vying for two open seats.
The two top vote-getters will win posts vacated by Vic Holmes, whose term is ending and who is running for mayor, and Bill Swaghoven, who’s stepping down after eight years on the council.
Here are the candidates:
“Deborah Holmes, 51, is a branch office administrator in the local Edward R. Jones Investments office. She is a past president of the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce and formerly owned a local insurance agency. Her experience is in finance, investing and insurance.
Holmes, no relation to mayoral candidate Vic Holmes, wants to encourage managed growth and form an urban renewal agency. “We are going to have growth, and I want to work with the city to make sure that our infrastructure can support the increased residences as well as businesses we’d like to attract to town. I am pro-growth as long as it’s managed properly.”
“Fred Meckel, 37, is attending the Army National Guard’s officer training school and is working on a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He is the Precinct 9 committee chairman for the Republican Party and coaches youth basketball and soccer teams.
Meckel wants to attract environmentally clean businesses that pay more than minimum wage; seeks to stop annexation until homes fill in between housing developments; and thinks Rathdrum should build its own sewer system to support future expansion.”I’m a visionary,” Meckel said. “I’m not a quick fixer. In the future, I’d like to move the city center, probably near the intersection of highways 41 and 53. With more growth, we need more (city) buildings. Right now, (City Hall) won’t hold all the services we need when we do go forward.”
“Richard Moser, 58, is retired. After a career in the Marine Corps, he was a banker and a federal auditor looking for fraud among Medicare providers and federally insured banks.
He’s committed to keeping taxes low and being economical when it comes to city spending.
“We’ve got to watch our tax dollars and be the most frugal people in the world. We’ve got some hard times ahead. The city’s growing but wages aren’t growing with it. We need to refocus on getting industry in here because you don’t feed a family on $9 an hour,” Moser said.
He’d also like to create a citywide disaster relief and evacuation plan in the event of hazardous spills on nearby freight rails.
“Carmon O’Donnell, 67, is retired from owning and driving his own semitruck and serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
If elected, he’d like to bring in new jobs, restrain city spending and base city decisions on what residents – not the council – want. Traffic problems and the high cost of water need to be resolved, he said.
“We need to take a common sense approach to government. We need to look out for the people and not put so much of a tax burden on them where they can’t afford to live here.”
“Destry Randles, 37, is district manager of Holiday Companies, a retailer that operates gas stations and convenience stores. He’s working on a bachelor’s degree in business administration and belongs to Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society.
He wants to see more walkways for pedestrians, lower water bills, more fiscal responsibility in the form of less city spending, traffic and safety improvements on major roadways, and more planning to alleviate problems that come with growth.”I want to see more accountability for the fiscal future of the town. I think (city employees’) salaries need to be looked into and if a cap is needed it should be (put) in place.”
“Kris Storey, 62, works part time as both a courier for Adept Business Services and a greeter with New Beginnings Welcome Service. She is the Precinct 11 Chairwoman for the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, secretary of the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Westwood/Rathdrum Historical Society.
Tops on her “to do” list are exploring construction of a city sewage treatment plant or finding a cheaper alternative for wastewater disposal. She favors managed growth, hopes to attract new businesses to town and wants to protect the Rathdrum Prairie from over-development.
“I don’t think we need urban sprawl,” Storey said. “It seems like everyone’s hungry to go out and cover the prairie with subdivisions.”
“Dan Vestal, 37, is a machinist at Heppner Molds in Post Falls.
He said he’d work on bringing in more businesses, sustaining those already in town and making sure city infrastructure keeps up with demand, if elected.
“We have a whole lot of people driving out of the city to go to work at their jobs. It would just be nice to have some businesses here in town so at least some residents wouldn’t have to go to other cities for jobs,” Vestal said.
He’d also like to see Rathdrum take a more active role in preserving its history.
“Chris Weitzel, 39, is a sawmill worker for Stimson Lumber Co. in Coeur d’Alene. He would encourage bringing viable businesses to town, he said. That would help residents who want to raise their families in Rathdrum and add corporations to the tax rolls, helping alleviate the tax burden on residents.”We need to balance out the ratio (of) businesses to residences. We need to start thinking outside of the household bank account to fund our (city treasury), Weitzel said.
He believes subdivisions should fill up before the city issues new housing permits. And he’d recommend a study of the growing population’s impact on the city infrastructure to identify adjustments that would need to be made.