As Deer Park continues to grow, candidates for mayorhope to increase the amount of deputies patrolling and attract more businesses to the area.
Incumbent Mayor Robert Whisman said the city doesn’t have a particularly high crime rate, but the current police presence – which includes two contracted Spokane County deputies and a school resource officer, won’t be enough if the city continues to grow.
“We don’t have an issue with it more than anyone else,” Whisman said, “but we do need to increase some of our law enforcement here. That’s one of the main issues I’m hearing from the public.”
Whisman’s challenger, City councilman Tim Verzal said in addition to hiring a new full-time deputy for Deer Park, he hopes to add an additional building inspector who is available five days a week to avoid holding up construction in the area.
Both candidates touted their contribution to a multimillion industrial park project that was copleted in 2015 and funded mostly by grants and property owners, according to the Deer Park City Treasurer’s office.
Verzal said if he was elected mayor, he hopes to use city resources to market the industrial park to attract businesses from around the country and hopes to bring new money into the community.
“What I would like to do is go into the business manuals,” he said, “and advertise in California, over in Seattle, here on the coast, some southern states, just getting the word out other than around here.”
Whisman said his goal is to turn Deer Park into an economy where local students can stay and find living-wage jobs after they graduate. The industrial park, he said, is the first part of that, but he hopes to bring in a new grocery store, a hotel, and use his connections to bring in high speed fiber optic internet as well as an Avista Corp. facility to the area.
“When I took over as mayor, one of my goals was to get the infrastructure up,” Whisman said. “I always have said, where would Deer Park be today if 30 years ago they got infrastructure in out there?”
Verzal said in addition to growing the tax base, he also hopes to improve basic maintenance of city parks, sidewalks and facilities. He said he does not want to hire additional employees, just reprioritize and better manage existing city workers to ensure public property is well-kept.
“(We need) a new, better standard of city management and maintenance,” Verzal said. “They kind of need a little lift.”
In addition to nearly three decades of political experience, Whisman owns and operates a laundromat, a storage facility and a snow plow business with his brother. His career was for the most part spent as a school bus driver and mechanic for the Deer Park School District, from which he retired two years ago.
Verzal has only been involved in government for three years, but has worked in food service as an owner of a Kentucky Fried Chicken and also previously owned a bar, the Buckaroo Tavern. He also has spent more than a decade in the construction field and an additional 10 years for a trucking company.
Whisman said the experience he has gathered from his 11 years as mayor prepare him to continue his work to improve the economy and make him the ideal candidate. Verzal said experience is a must, but there are basic issues such as maintenance that are being left by the wayside under the current administration.