After 25 years on the Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission, John Bruning thinks it’s time to use his experience to guide the city as a council member.
Bruning, who has been chairman of the Planning Commission since the late 1980s, announced his candidacy Thursday for the seat vacated by Councilwoman Dixie Reid, who decided not to seek re-election.
Former mayoral candidate Joseph Kunka filed for the same seat, joining former Planning Commission member Susie Snedaker, who announced her candidacy last week.
Councilman Al Hassell also announced his re-election campaign. Jim Brannon, the local Habitat for Humanity executive director who ran for the council in 1999, filed to challenge Hassell.
Candidates for the city’s three council seats on the November ballot have until 5 p.m. today to file.
Kunka, who didn’t return phone calls seeking comment, is a marketing representative for local security company Watson Agency. In his unsuccessful 2005 mayoral campaign, Kunka reluctantly told of his five years of drug use that included methamphetamine and cocaine. He said his drug use ended in 1989 and that he hoped by revealing his story he would bring legitimacy to his plan to attack the city’s drug problem.
Snedaker, a community activist, quit the Planning Commission in 2005 to run against Councilwoman Deanne Goodlander. She pushed for the city to change its zoning rules so transitional houses for felons, including sex offenders, couldn’t locate near schools and must get a city permit. Snedaker didn’t return calls.
Bruning, 62, said one of the key issues Coeur d’Alene will face in the next few years is development on the city’s forested and steep hillsides.
“What do we want to see on our hillsides: condos and big, huge houses, or green space?” he said. “Preserving those hillsides is going to be critical.”
Maintaining the downtown core as other retail developments such as Riverstone grow is also important to Bruning, as is securing the educational corridor and improving East Sherman, which is a gateway to the city.
Bruning and the Planning Commission made a bold move in 2005, recommending the city temporarily stop allowing construction of high-rise downtown buildings until the council passed rules to preserve natural views.
The council rejected the moratorium, but Bruning said that’s what prompted the city to hire a consultant and ultimately pass rules limiting the height and bulk of downtown buildings.
“It got their attention,” Bruning said.