One could argue that Ed Mertens is the father of Spokane Valley. He was involved in three unsuccessful efforts to incorporate the city of Spokane Valley before finally succeeding in 2002.
“We failed every time by not getting the proper percentage,” Mertens said of the first three efforts. “The three previous attempts that I worked on there was very little effort to convince the people of what we could do for them.”
After the third failure, Mertens and a few others drove to the West Side of the state to talk to the mayors of cities that had recently incorporated and get tips on how to be successful. Mertens said he realized the most important thing to emphasize was that citizens would save money on their taxes by incorporating.
It was a message that people liked, particularly as they watched the Spokane City Council go through turmoil, he said. “We would ask them to at least sign (the petition) so it can get on the ballot,” he said. “The city of Spokane was kind of helping because of the things that were going on in the council.”
There was also the worry that the city of Spokane would annex a portion of Spokane Valley. “That’s one of the things we were staring at,” Mertens said. “It was a strong, strong possibility.”
Finally Mertens’ efforts paid off. “On election day, we won by 2 percentage points,” he said.
Mertens, who owned A&M Quality Heating for decades, ran for a seat on the City Council in 2002 and again in 2005 but lost. But even though he hasn’t had a seat on the dais, Mertens is pleased by the progress being made. The key is that people are paying less in taxes, just as promised, he said. The city has also kept costs down by keeping the number of employees small.
“It worked,” he said. “They have a cash surplus. Who else has a cash surplus?”
Mertens has gotten an additional benefit from incorporation. He’s a member of the Spokane Valley Senior Center, which occupies a portion of CenterPlace. “I go play cribbage every Tuesday,” he said. “They have all kinds of entertainment. I think that’s one of the greatest things they can do for the community.”
He plans to stop by today’s anniversary bash at CenterPlace to celebrate what he helped bring about. “Without a doubt, it’s a success story,” he said.