Just over two months ago, Matthew Pederson found out he had lost his job as mayor of Airway Heights by just two votes to Patrick Rushing, a city council member, in a recount election.
Just when it looked like Pederson would be devoting even more time to his full-time job as director of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, Councilmen Larry Haskell resigned his seat in December, opening a spot on the council for two years.
“I was approached by a number of council members and staff that asked me to entertain coming back. I thought about it and talked with my family about it. It being a two-year commitment, we felt pretty good about coming back and helping out the new council to carry through with the projects and issues that we had already been working on,” Pederson said.
Pederson, along with three other candidates, applied for the vacant seat. The council interviewed all four candidates and then convened in an executive session to select the new council member. Pederson was selected by a 4-2 vote, but the former mayor knew the vote was far from a shoe-in.
“You just never know,” said Pederson. “It could go any way. Of the six that were there, I took four votes, which were the four votes necessary for the appointment. I did not get the vote of the mayor or the deputy mayor, but that’s OK.”
While Rushing did vote for someone else to serve, he said he hopes that Pederson’s previous eight years of service as a councilman and mayor will help move the city in the direction he envisions.
“I hope he’ll work with me as a partner,” said Rushing. “I didn’t vote for him, but I understand his experience is why some of the council members did vote for him. I hope his experience will help the council, and I look forward to working with him over the next two years.”
Pederson is hoping to continue to work on the growth issues ahead of Airway Heights, including infrastructure on the Wastewater Treatment Facility, which is under construction, and the potential sale of the city’s stake in the city of Spokane regional plant.
Pederson is also looking forward to completing the annexation of land from Spokane County that was agreed upon in December of last year.
He is eager to continue the city’s progress in relationships with the Kalispel and Spokane Tribe of Indians, Spokane County and regional and state agencies.