The race for Position 4 on the Spokane Valley City Council has centered on which candidate is more deserving of the Positive Change mantle.
Incumbent Gary Schimmels is one of five candidates that ran together on a Positive Change platform in 2009. All stood firmly against the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan and all won election.
Challenger Ed Pace has made claims that Schimmels no longer stands for the same values he once did. Meanwhile, the original chairman of the Positive Change Committee, current Councilman Chuck Hafner, has said that the committee no longer exists and can’t endorse anyone. Hafner has said that he firmly supports Schimmels while other current and former Positive Change council members are supporting Pace.
The Spokesman-Review asked each council candidate the same questions. Schimmels’ and Pace’s answers are below. Answers from the candidates for Position 5 will run next week. Answers from candidates for Positions 1 and 7 are available at www.spokesman.com.
Q: How do you propose to pay for street preservation in the future after current funding sources are exhausted?
Pace: Short-term – spending cuts in all areas except public safety and road maintenance. Medium-term – continue efficiency-building and cost-reduction in all areas while prioritizing spending for future budgets. Long-term – recruit new businesses to Spokane Valley to increase our tax base so that funds increase without raising taxes.
Schimmels: Our funding mechanism is in place through 2016. Funding in the future will depend on preservation needs, wants and allowable finances. We are limited by grants, outright monies from the general fund and reserves. We are doing our best at this time, but the future is always unpredictable.
Q: What are your views on the recent debate over partial nudity at local businesses? Should the City Council approve an ordinance regulating barista attire?
Pace: I am excited that so many citizens are passionately involved in making family-friendly changes to our community. I hope they stay involved and weigh in on other issues as well. Yes, the council should approve an ordinance that makes a strong statement that Spokane Valley is a great place to live and raise families. It should include regulating provocative signs and employee exposure such that school buses don’t have to be re-routed. For the long-term, a combination of family-friendly regulations and zoning guidelines for all businesses in our city should be developed with citizen input and residents participating in decisions.
Schimmels: I personally am in step with most of our citizens regarding the baristas … Our legal department is researching all aspects of the present ordinance and working to instigate additional language restricting the “no clothing” scene at that business and other like businesses in the Spokane Valley.
Q: There has been some discussion this year about hiring two additional police officers in Spokane Valley in 2014 or 2015. Are you in favor of this? If so, how would you pay for the estimated $300,000 annual cost?
Pace: Yes. Cut spending in all areas of the city budget except public safety and road preservation and maintenance.
Schimmels: Public safety should be foremost in the minds of the city. Since incorporation we have not increased our police staff. We are discussing adding two officers at this time. I am in favor of this increase as I feel it is long overdue. We need to continue to look down the road to further increases of the police staff. Funds are not in hand at the present but earmarking a fund and looking at our reserves are very essential at this time for this purpose.
Q: Would you vote in favor of increasing property taxes or adding a new tax to generate income to pay for additional police officers, street preservation or other services?
Pace: No. Funding priorities must be police, street preservation and other infrastructure. The first two cannot be reduced. This can happen through spending cuts in other areas and broadening our tax base so we don’t need to raise taxes or add new taxes.
Schimmels: I would not discuss increasing property taxes nor addition of any new taxes at this time. We presently have a very small indebtedness. In future years, saying “no” or “never” may not apply or be an option.