Ed Pace and Ben Wick, the two candidates for Spokane Valley City Council Position 4, may be testaments to the adage “if at first you don’t succeed.”
Pace didn’t win when he ran for an open council seat in 2009, but came back in 2013 and knocked off incumbent Gary Schimmels, who was serving as the city’s deputy mayor.
“I’m a lot more comfortable and I’m a lot more confident,” Pace said of the difference with his previous runs. “Now I feel like I belong here.”
As a 20-year-old college student, Wick was among the flood of council candidates in 2002, when the Valley first incorporated. He didn’t survive the primary that year and was a finalist three times for council openings before running and winning an open seat in 2011. He lost his 2015 re-election bid by 89 votes to Sam Wood.
“It’s given me the drive to try even harder,” he said, adding that some supporters told him after the election they didn’t bother to work for him because they didn’t think he’d lose.
A point of contention between the two is a proclamation Pace proposed last month which he describes as a parental-rights provision. It said students who aren’t vaccinated shouldn’t be kept out of school by health officials during an outbreak of those diseases. It also said sex education courses shouldn’t be mandated for graduation, and that parents should have the choice whether their children attend.
Pace says the proposal was a way of sparking discussion over an issue that was brought to him by residents who said parents know better than government when it comes to their children.
“We are listening to our constituents,” he said. He expects the proclamation to facilitate discussions between parents, the health district and school officials, and be rewritten.
Wick said the council should stick to issues within the city’s jurisdiction, like public safety, roads and infrastructure, and leave immunizations and other issues in the proclamation to other levels of government.
As he knocks on doors to talk to voters, Wick says he hears growing concern about how the city is changing in several ways.
One is last year’s firing of City Manager Mike Jackson, which Pace supported, and the merger early this year of the Public Works Department with the Community and Economic Development Department after Public Works Director Eric Guth resigned. The other is increased development, with higher density in some areas for apartment complexes that raise questions about traffic and school capacity.
“I think we need to really take a look at where we want to be,” Wick said.
Pace said the issue he hears most is the signature Valley issue: “People still don’t want their taxes raised.”
He’s leery of what he calls “regional entanglements” – the city might want to consider cutting money for Greater Spokane Incorporated and rely on its in-house team for economic development. While he thinks the Spokane Regional Transportation Commission does some good things, he doesn’t think it should drive the city’s transportation plans.
But many residents don’t care about city government, he said. “I represent the 80 to 90 percent of those citizens who couldn’t care less about city government.”