Among those applying for the two vacant Spokane Valley Planning Commission seats is Bill Bates, Mayor Tom Towey’s half-brother.
On the section of the application that asked if the appointment would “create a conflict of interest or an appearance of a conflict of interest” Bates wrote “no.” His relationship to the mayor is not indicated anywhere on the form.
Bates said he does not believe any conflict exists because the mayor has recused himself from making the planning commission appointments and has asked Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels to make the recommendations. The full city council must approve the recommendations.
“I think my ideas and things are my own,” Bates said. “I knew that the mayor would not be making the appointment. He has nothing to do with the decision.”
Towey said he also doesn’t see a potential conflict of interest. “I can’t speak for my brother,” he said. “I’m not going to comment one way or the other on my brother’s qualifications. I know Bill is an honest man.” He is confident that Schimmels will make the right decision for the city, he said.
Towey said he believes that most of the city council members do not know that Bates is related to him. Bates said he doesn’t think the family relationship should be made known until after the council votes on the appointments during the Dec. 14 council meeting. “I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “I think it’s going to have some negative ramifications.”
It shouldn’t matter if the city council knows he is the mayor’s brother or not, Bates said. “They may or may not know,” he said. “I don’t see it as a conflict.”
Bates said he has been attending city council meetings for the last two years and simply wants to be involved in his city. “I want to know what’s going on in the city, how I might be able to help,” he said.
He applied to be on the planning commission in 2009 as well but lost to current commissioner Arne Woodard.
The other applicants for the positions are: Frederick Mark, owner of Westmark Consulting Services; Jaimelyn McLeod, owner of Fine Tuned Piano Service; William Miller, retired from Boeing; Steven Neill, a shipping/warehouse clerk at Olsten Staffing and a board member of the Spokane Valley Republican Party Action Committee; Joseph Stoy, a design manager at Baker Construction; and Randall Vanhoff, associate architect at Zeck Butler Architects.
The two positions are for three-year terms. Planning commission members make recommendations to the city council on changes to the zoning or municipal code and consider environmental issues and policies. The council can then follow those recommendations or vote to ignore them.