Two new candidates have jumped into the Spokane Valley City Council race this fall by filing their paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission, and both are familiar faces to those who follow the council. DeeDee Loberg and Ben Wick both applied for two vacant council positions this spring.
Wick, 28, is no stranger to Spokane Valley politics. He first ran for office in 2003, when the city incorporated, while still a student at Eastern Washington University. “There were 52 that signed up to run that year,” Wick said. “I was the youngest of all of them. Before I ran I was actually involved in the incorporation effort. I was one of the people that went around gathering signatures.”
He applied for a vacant council seat in 2009 and again this year. All three times Wick was selected as one of the finalists and interviewed, but not appointed. “I knew that I wanted to file,” he said. “I was kind of holding back, waiting for a decision from the council on appointments.”
Wick filed to run for the seat currently held by Bill Gothmann, who has announced his intention not to run for re-election. Gothmann is Wick’s campaign chairman. “I feel like we still need a long-term vision for the city,” Wick said. “I feel like I can help contribute toward that and make our city stronger.”
The city has been dealing with the issue of how to fund an estimated shortfall of $4.2 million per year in street preservation projects. Wick said he favors designing such projects in a way that makes them eligible for grant money. “Some of the money they have internally,” he said. “I think that they have a lot of opportunities on projects that aren’t going to go on anymore. The sewer projects are ending this year. There are a lot of options.”
Wick holds a degree in computer science from Eastern Washington University and has worked as an IT system administrator at Goodrich Corp. since 2004. He’s also a graduate of East Valley High School. “My great-grandfather had a dairy farm on what is now Sprague and I-90,” Wick said. “He lost it during the Depression. I’ve lived here my whole life. Even going to Eastern I lived out here and commuted back and forth.”
Like Wick, Loberg has also been involved with the city since the beginning. She was on the transition committee and has frequently commented on various issues at council meetings and in letters to the editor. The self-described homemaker and community activist is also involved in Valleyfest and was just elected to the Washington state PTA board of directors.
“I’ve been invested in this city since it incorporated,” she said. “I’m just wanting to move in a different direction than the one we’re going in. I want to move forward. I’m not in favor of moving toward more deregulation. It seems like we’re moving in that direction.”
Loberg, 47, has filed to run against former planning commissioner Arne Woodard, who was recently appointed to fill a vacant council seat. Loberg said she chose that seat because it was the first one she applied for this year. She also said that Woodard has made comments that indicate he favors very minimal zoning, which she does not agree with.
“I would hate to see our parks go away to support our street program,” she said. “I’d like to get my opinion heard too.”
Loberg does agree that the city needs to fund street preservation projects and be proactive about doing such projects “before it becomes a crisis.” But she disagrees with taking money from the city’s Civic Facilities Fund to pay for it. “I do not believe we can support it out of the general fund,” she said. “It’s not sustainable and we need something sustainable.”
In recent months Loberg had urged the council not to get rid of the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. It took so much time to create and then was quickly gotten rid of, she said. “After spending all that time doing all this work, it was just all for naught,” she said. “I just didn’t like the whole process of what I was seeing before me. I had to speak up. That’s just who I am.”
Loberg grew up in the area and attended Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane before moving away and graduating from high school in Indianapolis. She returned to the area to attend classes at Spokane Community College and has been here since.