The three-way race for Coeur d’Alene City Council Seat 5 could be summed up in a couple of ways, depending on perspective.
First-term incumbent John Bruning casts it as positive versus negative. In his view, he’s the positive, having promoted community developments including the city library, the Kroc Center and the education corridor. He views one of his challengers, Steve Adams, as a person who’s against everything.
Adams, however, would like to cast the race as one of political philosophy, with himself, a conservative Republican, running against two Democrats, despite the fact that the race is nonpartisan. That’s in a county where an “R” next to a name can greatly tip the scales in a candidate’s favor.
The race also includes wild card Amber Copeland, a 30-year-old single mother of four girls who emphasizes that no one on the council represents her demographic.
Whoever wins on Nov. 8 will serve a four-year term that pays $750 a month, plus benefits. Council members represent the whole city, not specific geographic boundaries.
Bruning, 66, said in his second term he wants to protect the trees on the city’s Lake Coeur d’Alene levee from being cut, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed to do for stabilization. He also would like to see renovations to the city’s slightly rundown eastern entrance on Sherman Avenue.
The retired U.S. Forest Service contract administrator said two things attract jobs to a city: educational opportunities and quality of life. Two projects proposed to be funded at least partially with urban renewal dollars support that: the education corridor and the plan to remake McEuen Field, downtown’s aging waterfront park.
“There’s a very negative group and attitude in town, opposed to everything the city tries to do,” Bruning said. “The main thing is, overcome the negativity and keep us going on a positive track.”
Adams, however, could not disagree more about the use of urban renewal dollars. At the very least, he’d like the urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corp., to have more oversight. At the most, he said, “I’d run them out of town.” He’d like to see the law activating urban renewal agencies “repealed at the state level,” he said.
Adams, a 45-year-old insurance agent, said his philosophy is conservative: “Less taxes, more freedom.” He opposes the plan to remake McEuen Field and advocates for a more open city budgeting process. He said his research shows that Coeur d’Alene’s residents to city employees ratio is 130-to-1, whereas in other cities it’s as high as 250-to-1. He said he believes 100 positions could be cut from the city’s payroll.
“I think it would benefit the administration to have a conservative voice,” he said.
Copeland also would like to spruce up East Sherman Avenue and said she’d advocate using urban renewal dollars to do so. She’d like to find a way to create more entertainment for young people, offering them more options than the bar scene on weekend nights. She’d like the council to hold a monthly town-hall-style meeting, which she said would help constituents become part of the decision-making process.
“Anyone can be a problem-finder. What’s tricky is being a problem-solver,” said Copeland, who has run much of her campaign on Facebook.
Copeland said she was raised to speak her mind and have her own opinion but also respect the views of others. “In a representative body of people, I feel that every view should be represented.”