Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Challengers for council discuss Medical Lake

Medical Lake’s only contested race in the Aug. 16 primary election is for incumbent City Councilman Howard Jorgenson’s position.

Jorgenson faces two challengers who are making their first bids for public office: attorney Donald Kennedy, 60, and state Transportation Department worker Kent Reitmeier, 48.

Councilman John Paikuli will face Laura Parsons in the Nov. 8 general election, and Art Kulibert is unopposed for re-election to the $200-a-month job.

Jorgenson, 72, didn’t respond to a Spokesman-Review election questionnaire.

The longtime councilman is a retired Eastern State Hospital equipment operator who was president of the Washington Federation of State Employees for more than 20 years.

He had served six years on the City Council in 1997 when he was tapped for newly elected Gov. Gary Locke’s transition team.

Later that year, Jorgenson resigned his council and union positions to serve on the state Personnel Appeals Board. He rejoined the council in 2004 with a three-vote victory.

In 2008, Jorgenson helped kill a 227-acre annexation he said would strain city resources.

“I want the town to grow, but I want it to grow in a legitimate, fair way to the citizens who are already here,” he said during his 2003 campaign.

Here are Reitmeier’s and Kennedy’s responses to Spokesman-Review questions:

Q. Please give us a thumbnail resume that summarizes your career and tells us how long you have lived in Medical Lake, what diplomas or college degrees you hold (listing schools and dates) and whether you are married or have children. Also, please describe your elected or appointed political experience and any unsuccessful races.

A. Reitmeier – I graduated from Medical Lake High School in 1983.

Have lived in the Medical Lake area most of my life. Grew up on a farm.

Spent most of my life in agriculture. Work for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Am a certified pesticide applicator.

I am married to Monica Manza and have two grown children from a previous marriage.

I have served as vice president of the Fox Ridge Home Owners Association.

I served on the board of the American Legion Baseball Association representing Medical Lake for four years (during the time my son was playing baseball for Medical Lake High School).

Co-founded Medical Lake Baseball Boosters nonprofit to raise money to help kids play summer baseball.

Kennedy – I have lived in the city of Medical Lake since 1996. Prior to the 1996 move, I lived in the rural Cheney area for 18 years. I graduated from Eastern Washington University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in geology and in 1979 with a master’s degree in geology. I graduated from Gonzaga Law School in 1991 with a juris doctor degree.

The focus of my work is in the oil, gas and mineral-rights area. The three primary professional organizations to which I belong are the Washington State Bar Association, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, and American Association of Professional Landmen. My wife and I have been married for 38 years.

We have two married children and four grandchildren. My previous political experience is limited to that of a precinct committee officer.

Q. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the city of Medical Lake?

A. Kennedy – I believe that the major issue facing all political entities, including Medical Lake, revolves around budgets and revenue. This issue is helped or hindered by compliance to state and federal mandates and the struggling local business community.

Reitmeier – The city of Medical Lake is eclectic. With Fairchild Air Force Base in our backyard, we have a variety of folks who live in the city from all over the world. We also have three large state institutions with a lot of employees who live both inside and outside of Medical Lake. The people who choose to commute do so for a variety of reasons, but most of them state there is nothing to entice them to live in Medical Lake.

Competitive retail is nonexistent, and that needs to change by inviting new business to establish here.

We should clean up and utilize our city parks to invite more events to take place. Add lighting to some main streets, making it safer for kids walking home from school and decreasing the opportunity for potential crime.

The other important matter is for current city government to stop being obsequious. You can’t please everyone, but change is good. It’s also growth, and for some people growth is scary and means stepping up and taking the heat that may come with tough decisions.

I have had to make unpopular but progressive decisions, and I am willing to listen to the community sort through the issues and make the best possible decisions that enhance the community.

Q. What should be done about these issues, and why should voters choose you to do it?

A. Reitmeier – Let’s get some fresh thoughts and move forward with the next generation. Prepare our youth for the future by ensuring a safe, pleasant community to live in with a selection of activities incorporating the natural beauty that surrounds our small city.

Medical Lake has taken a back seat to surrounding communities, and I believe we can grow with the right people on the City Council to direct the growth.

Your vote for me will ensure positive development for our community.

Kennedy – I am running for Medical Lake City Council because I believe that it is the civic duty of United States citizens to be involved in their government. Too many of us do not want to take the time, as it is easier to let someone else do it. We only take note when the government does something that complicates our lives.

I am pro-small business and I believe that, for our economy to improve, the government has to stop putting up roadblocks. I listen to all sides of an issue and then carefully analyze the situation before making a decision.

Click here to comment on this story »