Ballots for the November election are beginning to arrive in mailboxes, making it decision time in the races for Spokane Valley City Council.
Current Spokane Valley Councilman Arne Woodard faces challenger Dee Dee Loberg for position 3. Woodard was appointed to the council in April to fill an unexpired term. He previously served on the city’s Planning Commission for a year and has often spoken in favor of minimal zoning. While he was not part of the original “Positive Change” slate of candidates elected to the council in 2009, Woodard is supported by those council members and shares some of the same financial supporters.
Loberg is a self-described community activist and has served on various city committees. She has frequently attended City Council meetings and was an advocate for the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. She says she wants to represent a demographic not currently represented on the council and disagrees with Woodard’s minimalist zoning philosophy.
Each candidate was asked to respond to the same three questions. Woodard did not respond to several requests.
Question : The city has 20 nonunion employees and 61 union employees. In 2011 the nonunion employees did not get a cost-of-living pay increase, saving the city approximately $40,000. Do you think the nonunion employees should get a 2.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase in 2012?
Loberg : Absolutely. We need to remain competitive in attracting and retaining the very best – those professionals qualified to navigate the complex issues and mechanisms for the operation of our city. To have a reputation for not supplying cost-of-living adjustments when we all are acutely aware of the rising costs does our city a disservice and the people we employ. This also promotes a fair and equitable working environment and in my opinion is the appropriate thing to do.
Q. The city has been working to set aside money for street preservation but has no revenue dedicated for this purpose. How do you think street preservation should be funded?
Loberg : Preservation gives a significant return on investment. By delaying, it could cost us 4-5 times more to reconstruct. Options are out there for funding preservation, the majority of them being additional revenue streams. Before jumping to these options, we should consider the potential to collaborate with the various county, state and city agencies on contract packages to maximize efforts and funding. To date, the City Council has added a line item for street preservation with a seed of $500,000 and purported plans to transfer excess general fund carry-over to this line item. Will this be enough to support the suggested $2 million needed per year? I do not know, but it is a start.
Q. Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Loberg : I believe I can contribute to the overall perspective of what it takes to be a vibrant and successful city for all citizens. I offer a nonbusiness, informed citizen perspective that will provide balance to the council. I understand that businesses contribute greatly to the overall health of our community, but we also need to give voice to ideas for improving our city that go beyond just business. My long history of involvement in issues affecting families and youth and my ongoing contributions to neighborhood safety and community enhancement allow for more well-rounded decisions.