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Valley council member resigns

Thu., Jan. 20, 2011

Dempsey decision comes after combative meeting on proposed amendment changing city zone

Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Rose Dempsey announced Wednesday that she is resigning her seat on the council effective Friday.

Her decision comes after a contentious council meeting Tuesday night where she was in the minority opposing a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the city center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. Four new council members who all ran on a platform opposing the plan were elected to the council in November 2009.

Dempsey said she will not take her seat next Tuesday when the amendment is up for the final vote. “I won’t be there when they vote that piece of crap in,” she said. “They have no intention of compromising on anything. They’re going to do what they’re going to do.”

The amendment is coming at the request of two property owners who want to bring in a large used car lot on property near University City. It would eliminate the city center, envisioned as a dense urban core with a city hall, and replace it with Mixed Use zoning.

Dempsey has said repeatedly that she doesn’t believe it qualifies as an emergency and sparred with Councilwoman Brenda Grassel on that issue Tuesday. She has also said she believes the council needs more public input before making such a major change. Dempsey supported a compromise proposed by Councilman Bill Gothmann that would instead shrink the boundary of the city center zone, but the idea failed to get enough votes.

Dempsey and Gothmann were frequently on the losing side against the other five council members, who all ran together on the “Positive Change” platform. “I’m really sorry I’m leaving Bill Gothmann in the lurch,” she said. “Now he’ll be all alone.”

Mayor Tom Towey said he was sorry to see Dempsey’s resignation. “I certainly valued Rose as a very vital part of our council,” he said. “She was one of the council persons that really had a passion for her job and that’s what we need. We’re going to miss her a great deal.”

Dempsey, a diabetic, said the recent stress that came along with her job had pushed up the amount of insulin she needed to take every day. She is the primary caregiver for her husband and her brother, who both have health problems, and she can’t afford to get sick, Dempsey said. “I know it was the stress. The job was really bad for my health. I didn’t see any point in hanging around.”

Dempsey, who was elected in November 2007, said she has been playing the organ and directing the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church in Coeur d’Alene and hopes to use that as a stepping stone into a full-time position.

The last time the Spokane Valley council had a vacancy, the council accepted applications from interested people and conducted interviews before voting on a replacement. Dempsey’s term was set to expire in November. A new council member must be appointed within 90 days.

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