June 16, 2011 in Washington Voices

Three jump into City Council race

By The Spokesman-Review

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The races for the various Spokane Valley City Council seats up for election in November have been puttering along so far this year, but a flurry of activity on one day last week saw three more candidates enter the fray for the seat being vacated by Councilman Bill Gothmann.

Ben Wick, a three-time applicant for a vacant City Council seat, had already announced his intention to run for the seat. During the weeklong filing period with the Spokane Valley County Elections Office he was joined by John Baldwin, Lewis Higgins and Marilyn Cline.

Baldwin, a longtime volunteer with University SCOPE, applied for two vacant City Council seats this year. He withdrew his name from consideration for the first seat when his son had health issues. Baldwin said he withdrew the second time because Chuck Hafner applied for the same seat.

“I told Chuck that I would help him out on his campaign for office, so I didn’t think it was right that I ran against him,” Baldwin said. “I didn’t know he was going to apply for that position.”

Baldwin said he had always planned to run for Gothmann’s seat. “When I looked on the ballot there was only one person,” he said. “I figured they needed some competition.”

He has lived in Spokane Valley for 35 years. Previously he served in the Air Force for 12 years, worked with a federal organized crime task force for 22 years and worked for Rosauers for 12 years. “I have seven kids,” he said. “I’ve always worked two jobs.”

Baldwin said his top priority is public safety and next is roads. The city needs to find a way to pay for street preservation projects, he said. “Eventually they’re going to have to look at raising taxes,” he said. “For me, I’d like to put it to a vote of the people. We don’t want to end up like the city of Spokane.”

He also would like to sit down with small business owners and find out how the city can help them prosper. “I’d like to see more light manufacturing go up on Sprague Avenue,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of vacant buildings.”

Marilyn Cline is a longtime SCOPE volunteer, spending 12 years with Central Valley SCOPE. She recently resigned her position on the CV SCOPE board so she could take a seat on the countywide SCOPE board of directors.

She has many years of community service behind her in other areas. The West Valley High School graduate worked as a hairdresser until her son was born and then spent years in Central Valley schools as a room mother and teacher’s aide.

“I’ve lived here my whole life,” she said. “My family homesteaded property here, and my cousin still lives on the property.”

Cline said she decided to run for City Council as a way to give back to the community that has given her everything. “I just would like to see the Valley remain the Valley,” she said. “People moved here for a reason. I want my grandchildren to be able to grow up like I did. That’s really important to me.”

She also believes in the importance of public safety and good roads. Attracting business is “huge,” she said. “We really need to be business friendly and make people want to come here.”

Higgins comes from an Idaho mining family and to some extent followed in his father’s footsteps. “There were not very many mines he didn’t work at there in the (Silver) Valley,” he said.

He holds a degree in finance from the University of Idaho. During his summer breaks he worked for the Hecla Mining Co. After graduation he did a short stint in the Army, then began working as an accountant with Day Mines. He worked for a few years as a certified financial planner before returning to working for various mining companies. He retired as the executive director of the International Association of Mine Safety Professionals.

Higgins has lived in Spokane Valley since 1991. “You always hear people grousing about the way the city is being run,” he said. “I’ve even participated, and I thought, well, time to put your money where your mouth is.”

He believes the city’s budget needs more scrutiny. “It strikes me that it would be a good idea to know where our money is going and where it’s coming from and that it’s being wisely spent,” he said. “I’d like to be a participant in that. I think there are probably places where our money can be spent more efficiently.”

The race for Bill Gothmann’s seat is the only Spokane Valley City Council race that will be on the primary ballot this summer. Appointee Chuck Hafner is running unopposed, and the other two races only drew one opponent against the incumbent. John Carroll has filed to run against Dean Grafos and DeeDee Loberg has filed to run against appointee Arne Woodard.

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