Candidates for Moscow City Council and mayor answered questions ranging from the role of city government to their thoughts on the city granting a conditional use permit to New Saint Andrews College so it can expand its downtown campus into the former Cadillac Jack’s building on Friday at the Nuart Theatre in Moscow.
All the candidates on the ballot attended the NSA-hosted candidate forum. Linda Pall is challenging Mayor Bill Lambert for the mayor position; incumbent councilors Art Bettge, Gina Taruscio and Walter Steed and newcomers Robb Parish and Brandy Sullivan are competing for three four-year seats; and Anne Zabala is trying to unseat incumbent Councilor John Weber for the open two-year position.
Pall, a longtime city councilor and attorney, said it is important to look at the track record of Lambert and herself. She said she has helped save historic properties in Moscow such as the 1912 Center.
Pall said she would like to support progressive development in Moscow so families can find a home in “America’s best hometown.”
As for the conditional use permit granted to NSA that allows the college to establish a music conservatory with up to 300 students at the CJ’s building, Pall said it is OK for schools to be present in downtown Moscow, however, she said she is concerned about potential parking issues and how they will be resolved.
Lambert said his greatest accomplishment during his four years as mayor has been the successful collaboration the city has had with its surrounding partners, including with the University of Idaho, Pullman, Latah County and the Moscow School District. One example of collaboration Lambert mentioned was with the Idaho Transportation Department and its $3.55 million road resurfacing project this summer on Moscow’s two highways.
As for the City Council candidates, Taruscio said the city needs more business-friendly ordinances.
“We need more ability to allow business to expand and prosper here in Moscow,” Taruscio said.
However, she added, too much economic development would hinder’s Moscow’s status as a cool small town.
Sullivan said she would like to increase communication between the city and the public.
Steed said his proudest achievement as a councilor was banning smoking in Moscow bars a few years back. He said working to install the Moscow School District Community Playfields was another one of his highlights.
Weber echoed some of Steed’s comments in that one of his greatest achievements as a councilor was prohibiting smoking in bars.
Weber said he was told the ordinance would ruin businesses downtown and cause some of them to close.
“Neither one of those things happened,” he said.
Weber said he is also proud of the MSD Community Playfields and the city’s $1 million commitment for a new ice rink.
Parish said he is anxious to see the downtown core spread in various directions from Main Street, which is something he thinks is starting to happen. He said continuing to grow the public transportation system to improve access to downtown would be something he would study as a councilor.
Parish said he supports the proposed NSA expansion into the CJ’s building but said he does have concerns about the impact of the potential property tax-exemption status of the building.
Bettge said he would like to see Moscow foster economic growth by bringing in new businesses that would not degrade the quality of life residents enjoy in the community.
Zabala said she sees the role of city government to include the public in the decision-making process.
As for NSA’s conditional use permit, she said it is an exciting development for the school and a good use for the building, but she shares some residents’ concerns about the property tax situation.
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