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Accusations of mudslinging, bullying in contentious Spokane Valley City Council race

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 31, 2017, 11:11 p.m.

Caleb Collier, left, and Brandi Peetz. (Courtesy photos)
Caleb Collier, left, and Brandi Peetz. (Courtesy photos)

The race for Spokane Valley City Council Position 2 is heating up, and so is the rhetoric between its two candidates.

Caleb Collier, a Republican and self-proclaimed constitutionalist, is looking to retain his seat against the nonpartisan Brandi Peetz. Each accuses the other of unsavory campaign tactics.

Collier, 39, says Peetz has been mudslinging. Peetz, 31, accuses Collier’s camp of intimidation in hope that she’ll drop out of the race.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite say this is the most combative political race they’ve seen in the city, which was incorporated in 2003.

The candidates’ rhetoric seems to support the observation.

“(Peetz) doesn’t really stand for anything,” Collier said of his opponent. “It’s a disservice to hide your ideology. Voters want to know what you believe.”

Peetz, a lifelong Spokane Valley resident, says she’s really a Republican, but that she is not running under the label in order to distance herself from the Republican-dominated Spokane Valley Council.

“You see the turmoil with the Republicans in the current Spokane Valley council,” Peetz said. “And who would want to be tied to them?”

Peetz said that over the past few weeks she and her family members have been harassed online and by phone by Collier supporters, including local provocateur Scott Maclay.

Collier denied association with Maclay and said he wants “nothing to do with him.” He called Peetz’s accusations groundless.

Questions of partisanship aside, Collier and Peetz say they both want to improve Washington’s 10th-most populous city.

Collier, who served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and now works as a postal carrier, was appointed to Position 2 in 2016 after the resignation of Dean Grafos and Chuck Hafner. He characterizes himself as a staunch supporter of limited government, defending private property rights and opposing new taxes, and has proposed the Spokane Valley become a Second Amendment city to protect its gun rights.

Spokane Valley, he said, is the most fiscally responsible city in the state. He touts the fact that it is in its ninth straight year without raising residents’ property tax.

“If it’s not broken, why fix it?” said Collier, who is endorsed by Washington Rep. Matt Shea. “I approach the city’s budget like I approach my own, taking care of needs first.”

In 2012, however, Collier was sued by his ex-wife for back child support payments, according to court documents. The court found that he “intentionally willfully failed to comply with the Order of Child Support by not paying child support,” according to the documents.

Collier said the issue was later negotiated between their attorneys and did not go before a judge.

Making her first run at office, Peetz has been active in the local political spectrum since college, when she was vice president of Spokane Community College’s student body.

Peetz, who later earned her criminal justice and sociology degree at Gonzaga University, said she has a community-minded approach with a focus on public safety. She is endorsed by Knezovich, who appointed her to the Spokane County Citizens Advisory Board.

She said she began considering a run at public office after former Spokane Valley City Manager Mike Jackson was forced out in 2016, followed by the subsequent resignations of Grafos and Hafner.

Peetz said she wants the council to be more transparent.

“Residents just want the truth, and they don’t think they’re getting it from the current council,” Peetz said. “There is some good in current council, but they need to get back to the basics and get the community more involved.”

Collier has been endorsed by six other current council members, including Mayor Rod Higgins. Peetz has the support of several former council members, including Wilhite and two other former Spokane Valley mayors, Tom Towey and Michael DeVleming.

Caleb Collier

Brandi Peetz

The city’s revenue devoted to roads, a telephone tax, has been declining. Should taxes be increased to maintain streets?

Says the city is in the process of utilizing a new program for street ratings as well as reconfiguring the actual cost of the street preservation fund. Has taken a no-new-tax pledge.

Would look at spending to find necessary funds. Says that if new revenue is needed, the possibility of an increase in taxes should be put before voters.

Should the Valley contemplate creating its own police department, separate from the sheriff’s office?

No.

No.

Do you support the proposed city proclamation stating that governments, including the health district, should not have the ability to bar unvaccinated children from attending school during an outbreak?

Yes.

No. Believes that if the matter should be decided, it should be taken up by state, not city, legislators.

Should the Spokane County Library District ask voters for a tax to build a new Spokane Valley library? If so, how should the City Council help facilitate that project?

Says the issue is entirely up to the Spokane County Library District. Believes city should not be involved in a tax increase proposal, and would like to see new library projects assisted by private donations.

Could go both ways. Believes City Council and library need to come up with a solution that works best for both parties.

Do you support fining residents who don’t shovel their sidewalks?

No. I do not think it is fair to impose a sidewalk on a citizen that they may not have wanted, take their property to build the sidewalk, charge them with caring for said sidewalk, pile snow up on said sidewalk, then fine the citizen for not clearing the snow.

No. Cites physically vulnerable people who are unable to shovel their sidewalks, and believes it’s not fair for those citizens to be fined.


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