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Council will quiz four candidates

Finalists hope to replace former member Steve Taylor

Ever wonder why anyone would want to be a city council member?

Four finalists for an opening on the Spokane Valley City Council will answer that and other questions at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. council meeting.

City Planning Commission Chairman Ian Robertson, former Planning Commissioner Fred Beaulac, retired minister Diana M. Sanderson and information technology engineer Ben T. Wick will be grilled half an hour apiece on why they want to replace Steve Taylor on the council.

Taylor resigned June 30 to become city administrator in Connell, Wash.

Current council members plan to make their selection Aug. 4. To keep the position and finish the two years remaining in Taylor’s term, the appointee will have to win election in November.

The county elections office will conduct a three-day filing period Aug. 26-28. No matter how many candidates file, the one with the most votes in the Nov. 3 general election will get the position.

Council members discussed 16 applicants in a closed session this week and, in open session, quickly nominated and voted on finalists. All the nominees except Beaulac, whom Councilwoman Diana Wilhite opposed, were confirmed unanimously.

Beaulac, who left the city Planning Commission when his term expired Dec. 31, is operations manager for Hatfield Enterprises, a Spokane Valley motor freight company.

On the Planning Commission, Beaulac advocated a go-slow approach to changing traffic flow on Sprague Avenue and the introduction of animated billboards in the Auto Row section of the Sprague-Appleway couplet. On the City Council, he would like to eliminate conflict with Spokane County commissioners.

Robertson retired in 2007 as pastor of Spokane Valley Nazarene Church. Previous jobs included managing a radio station and being a manufacturing training coordinator for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. He says in his application that the 5-year-old city has made a good start, and he wants to “bring those who feel disenfranchised to the table.”

Sanderson retired this year as adult education minister at St. Mary’s Church. She served on a human resources committee in 2002 that helped the prospective city get started. Now, Sanderson says, she wants to help Spokane Valley create “an identity” with things such as Bellingham-style green belts and neighborhood groups that come together in emergencies.

Wick served on the Eastern Washington University Student Council until 2004 and now is an information technology systems engineer for Goodrich Aerospace. He says he supported the city’s incorporation and wants to get more involved because of this year’s dearth of candidates for other council positions and an ongoing disincorporation drive.

Beaulac was nominated by Councilman Bill Gothmann; Robertson, by Mayor Rich Munson; Sanderson, by Councilman Dick Denenny; and Wick, by Wilhite.

Three other applicants were nominated but not confirmed as finalists.

Developer Dean Grafos, an outspoken opponent of the city’s Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan and a leading supporter of disincorporation, was nominated by Councilman Gary Schimmels but drew only two other votes, from Wilhite and Denenny.

Richard R. Mayer, chairman of Sun Rental Center, and Stanley J. Courchaine, a dairy and hay farmer, also were eliminated in 3-3 tie votes.

Mayer was nominated by Denenny and supported by Wilhite and Gothmann. Mayer advocates a more patient and piecemeal approach to the city’s Sprague-Appleway redevelopment plans.

Courchaine wants better relations with county officials. He was nominated by Councilwoman Rose Dempsey and supported by Wilhite and Denenny.

No one seconded Dempsey’s nomination of John M. Tyson III, a local business and program manager for the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Other applicants were:

Jonathan L. Jones, a casino surveillance supervisor; Robert W. Messerly, who describes himself as a retired businessman; Marcus L.G. Poulin, whose résumé says he was a store clerk and restaurant custodian from 1989 to 1991.

Also: Charles W. Reinders, a developmental disability caregiver; Annette K. Remshard, a retired nurse; Robert T. Blum, a retired marketing consultant; Edward O. Foote, a substitute teacher; and Karen A. Fournier, director of the Hearth Homes shelters for women and children.

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