The enthusiasm Spokane Valley Councilman Ben Wick has for his city hasn’t waned since he went around knocking on doors urging residents to vote for incorporation in 2002. When the city did incorporate, he was one of dozens who filed to run for a council seat even though he was still a student at Eastern Washington University.
In the years that followed, he applied for vacant council seats three times and was named a finalist each time. In November 2011, voters gave Wick the council seat he wanted after a close race with challenger Marilyn Cline.
Being a city councilman is much like he thought it would be, Wick said.
“I was expecting to help make a difference for our city,” he said. He knew serving on the council would take time, but wasn’t expecting just how much time it would take. “We’re on a lot of different committees,” he said. “I’m amazed at how many.”
Wick serves on the board of directors for SNAP, is chairman of both the SNAP planning committee and the city’s economic development committee, is on the city’s governance manual committee and represents the city at Spokane River Forum meetings. Wick said he also goes to more events than required because he believes it is worth it.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” he said. “I’ve always looked at our city as something to be involved in.”
Wick, 30, is no stranger to Spokane Valley. His great-grandfather owned a farm where the Sprague-Interstate 90 interchange is now. He attended East Valley schools and his family owned a pumpkin patch that provided pumpkins to all the local Excel grocery stores. Wick said he polished his math skills selling pumpkins by the pound.
He is excited about his role in the city.
“There’s just so much potential in our city,” he said. “There’s so much we can do.”
The city is financially sound, which creates a lot of opportunity, Wick said. During his campaign he often said he wanted to work with the community on economic development. This year he led an economic development committee that met with community members and business representatives. He’s due to make a report on the effort to the City Council in December.
“That is our start on getting ideas on how we can spur economic development for our city,” he said of the committee. “There’s never been a single group to pull people together.”
Several people mentioned the need for sewer service on industrial land located near Barker Road and Trent Avenue so the land can be developed, Wick said. “The sewer is provided by the county, but we could help go out for grants,” he said.
Many groups also said Spokane Valley needs some type of city center, he said. “We’re getting some good dialogue. I can’t wait to report back.”
Wick is both the youngest member of the council and the only one who isn’t part of the original group of Positive Change candidates elected in 2009 or a candidate supported by that group in later elections. But Wick said he believes he can make a difference.
“I do have an equal voice,” he said. “We all have the same speaking rights up here on the dais. I think some of the comments I’ve made have provided a difference.”
It isn’t unusual for Wick to cast the only dissenting vote on an issue but he also often votes with the majority. “You always have to have a clear conscience when you vote,” he said.
Wick balances his new duties as a councilman with his job as an IT system administrator for Goodrich. He arrives early or stays late to make up for attending meetings during the day or takes vacation time. “They’ve been very flexible,” he said.
His wife, Danica, is also supportive, even though Wick spent Valentine’s Day in Olympia and their wedding anniversary in a council meeting. Before the election last year Wick said it was the perfect time to run for office since he and his wife didn’t have any children yet. “We actually found out on election night that we were expecting,” he said. His daughter, Sabriel, is now 5 months old.
“She’s a great baby,” he said. “And the council’s been great, too.”
Click here to comment on this story »