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Spokane Valley Mayor to run for State Rep

Yesterday Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey announced that he plans to run for the Washington State House of Representatives 4th District seat currently held by longtime Republican legislator Larry Crouse. Crouse is considering retiring, which would leave the seat open. But Towey isn't alone in his interest: current Spokane council member Nancy McLaughlin has indicated she may move to Spokane Valley to run for the seat and former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite has also expressed interest. The election isn't until November 2014, but it looks like things are heating up already. Click here to read today's story. SR file photo.

Saturday’s highlights

Jayne Singleton, director of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, is ready to open the Grand Coulee Dam and Ice Floods exhibit. The box hanging from the ceiling denotes one cubic yard. Grand Coulee Dam contains around 12 million cubic yards of concrete. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I'm fairly certain it's Monday morning (hello, second cup of coffee), so let's look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Nichol Hensley has a story on a new exhibit at the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum that focuses on the Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt.

Last week Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey gave his annual State of the City speech. He compared the city to the Gonzaga University men's basketball team in that they both focus on recruiting and the basics. Citizens can be proud of the city, he said.

There's a big celebration Saturday of the 10th anniversary of the incorporation of Spokane Valley. The bash at CenterPlace will feature some history from the Spokane Valley Heritage museum and local Native American tribes as well as carnival games and birthday cake.

In sports, correspondent Steve Christilaw takes a look at this year's Central Valley High School boys soccer team. There is a strong group of freshmen this year.

State of the City speeches today

Mayor Tom Towey will give his annual State of the City speech twice today. The first run through is at noon in the second floor community room at the Spokane Valley Mall. The second round is at 6 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

There will be time for questions after each speech and the entire program is scheduled to last an hour, so you can pop over on your lunch hour if you want. Mayor Towey will be speaking about the city's focus on bringing new businesses to town and on improving city services.

If you can't make it to either one but are still interested in what the Mayor has to say, the presentation will be recorded and posted on the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org

Roskelley edges McKenna among Bloomsday politicians

Among the elected leaders and politicians running for office, it should be no surprise that John Roskelley won the race.

Roskelley, a candidate for Spokane County Commission, had the best Bloomsday time among all elected Spokane and Spokane Valley city leaders; state House and state Senate candidates for districts within Spokane County; Spokane County commissioner candidates; and gubernatorial candidates.

Roskelley is, afterall, a world-renowned mountain climber.

Here is the list of local politicians (plus a governor hopeful) who completed Bloomsday:

  1. John Roskelley, D, candidate for Spokane County Commission, 0:59:00
  2. Rob McKenna, R, candidate for governor, 1:00:21
  3. Amber Waldref, Spokane city councilwoman, 1:07:52
  4. Marcus Riccelli, D, candidate for state House, 1:08:27
  5. Steve Salvatori, Spokane city councilman, 1:17:00
  6. Amy Biviano, D, candidate for state House, 1:17:16
  7. Dennis Dellwo, D, candidate for state House, 1:20:08
  8. Tom Towey, Spokane Valley mayor, 1:28:14
  9. Brenda Grassel, Spokane Valley city councilwoman, 2:13:47
  10. David Condon, Spokane mayor, 2:41:52
  11. Michael Baumgartner, R, state Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate, 2:47:31

Today’s highlights

Tom Towey was recently elected to his second term as mayor of Spokane Valley. Since the city has a city manager form of government, the job is mostly ceremonial, but it keeps Towey busy. Towey was first elected mayor two years ago during his first meeting as a council member. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Dust the snow off your boots and settle in for a look at today's Valley Voice. Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey was just re-elected to a second term as mayor. He recently took a look back at his first two years in office and looks ahead to the city's future.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger was at the recent Liberty Lake City Council meeting where new mayor Steve Peterson talked more about his plan to use land the city owns to expand the city's farmers market. The council also discussed the policy governing absences by council members. The council is also planning a special meeting for Jan. 31 to select a new council member.

The Spokane Valley City Council discussed several things at their meeting, including the city's snow plan, the Shoreline Master Program and putting a gateway sign at Appleway and Thierman. Everyone seems to like the idea of a sign, but the estimated $115,000 to $122,000 cost for a sign and landscaping is proving hard to swallow for some council members.  

Towey remains Spokane Valley mayor

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey, left, chats with city councilmen Dean Grafos, center, and Gary Schimmels before a City Council meeting Dec. 28, 2010. SR file photo.

The Spokane Valley City Council made a unanimous decision last night to re-elect Mayor Tom Towey to a second term. Towey was the only one nominated for the position, just as Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels retained his position as the only nominee. At one point last year Towey told me that he thought someone else should have a chance to be Mayor, but more recently he said that the council members he had encouraged to consider being mayor were not interested and that he was willing to serve as mayor again if nominated.

Since Spokane Valley has a city manager form of government, the role of mayor is largely ceremonial but it is a role that Towey has seemed to enjoy. The council elects a mayor from within their ranks every two years.

Where were your elected officials today?

The answer was probably the fourth and final State of the City address by Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey. The event just ended at CenterPlace and the audience was full of politicians. Here's a sampling: Spokane Mayor Mary Vernor, Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman, Rockford Mayor Micki Harnois, Spokane County Commissioners Al French and Todd Mielke, Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan, Spokane Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin and Spokane Valley Fire Department Commissioners Monte Nesbitt, Joe Dawson and Bill Anderson.

Rounding out the group was every Spokane Valley council member except for Bill Gothmann, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick Van Leuven, Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson and Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service director Nancy Hill. I guess the speech was the place to be today. 

Mayor Towey had a little fun with his interactive voting during today's speech. He said he's been told his style while running council meetings is too laid back. So he asked if he should run the meetings Shogan style, Towey style or Larry the Cable Guy style. Fifty percent of the crowd voted for Larry the Cable Guy style. “I'd say Mr. Shogan and I have a lot of work to do,” Towey said.

Today’s highlights

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey stood at the pulpit at Valley Fourth Memorial Church and gave his first State of the City address to about 50 people Monday. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

The Spokane Valley City Council has been busy this week, which is reflected in today's Valley Voice. Mayor Tom Towey gave the first of four State of the City speeches Monday. He talked about highlights from 2010, goals for 2011 and the city's budget.  Friends and family of slain pastor Scott Creach also spoke out about the use of unmarked patrol cars by the Sheriff's Office, which provides policing for Spokane Valley.

During Tuesday's meeting the council listened to more than an hour of public testimony before agreeing to postpone a decision on the zone change being sought by St. John Vianney Catholic Church so a low income senior housing complex can be built next to the church. City staff will spend the next month negotiating a developer's agreement with the property owner to impose restrictions on how the land can be used.

I also put together an update on land owned by the Spokane Valley Fire Department at Barker and Euclid that a contractor has been using for storage. The company has overstayed its welcome and fire commissioners are taking steps to encourage the company to leave. Additional information came in after my deadline that the construction company's president is now in contact with the department and a new agreement is being negotiated. I'll have more on that as things get worked out.

Reporter Pia Hallenberg also has a bit of cross-town good news. Neighbors near Northwoods Park north of Spokane recently volunteered their time to clean up the park and say they plan to maintain it this summer. Northwoods is one of the parks Spokane County can no longer afford to maintain.

State of the City

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey will host the first of four State of the City addresses tonight at 7 p.m. at Valley Fourth Memorial Church, 2303 S. Bowdish. The mayor plans to discuss highlights from 2010, the city's budget and goals for 2011. Several council members will also be in attendance and there will be time for discussion/questions and answers on community issues after the Mayor's speech.

If you can't make it tonight, the program will be repeated at 7 p.m. Thursday at CenterPlace (2426 N. Discovery Place), 7 p.m. April 21 at Woodard Elementary (7401 E. Mission) and 12:30 p.m. April 28 at CenterPlace.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey and his Pekinese, “Buddy”, get ready to ride Wed. evening, Aug. 18, 2010, along with Spokane Valley Cyclists For the Broadway Safety Project in a “Pedal with the Politicians”, to look first hand at bike lanes and safety issues in the Spokane Valley. Councilman Bill Gothman (blue helmet) also participated in the ride. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

In Saturday's Valley Voice, Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey takes a look back at his first year at the helm of the city, with its challanges and disagreements. There's a report from last week's council meeting where three council members reversed themselves on what items they wanted to support at the Washington State Legislature.

The Liberty Lake Police Department will soon get two new police cars to replace cars that have extremely high mileage and aren't reliable any more. The department will also be able to install a fence that will block off access to the rear of the police station where officers enter and exit. Correspondent Sandra Babcock has a nice column about a wildlife experience she had in Yellowstone National Park a few years ago and the lessons she learned from it.

Coming on Saturday

Here's a few tidbits you can check out in Saturday's Valley Voice. The Spokane Valley City Council reversed themselves on the items they want to support at the 2011 Washington legislative session, despite having voted to approve them in October.

As the calendar rolls over to 2011, Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey is marking the end of his first year as mayor. We'll take a look at how he and others think it has gone. Plus, the Liberty Lake Police Department is celebrating the fact that it will get two new police cars in 2011 to replace aging, high mileage cruisers. The department has had to do without new cars for a couple years now.

There will be other nuggets in the pages. Make sure you grab a copy and take a look.

Mayor’s brother picked for planning commission

Spokane Valley Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels is recommending that Bill Bates, mayor Tom Towey’s half-brother, be appointed to one of the two vacant seats on the planning commission. Bates retired from Rosauer’s as vice president of retail operations for 26 stores. Schimmels is recommending that the second seat go to Joseph Stoy, a design manager at Baker Construction and Development. The full city council is scheduled to vote on Schimmels’ recommendation during the Dec. 14 council meeting.

In interviews this week both Towey and Bates said they did not think it would be a conflict of interest if Bates is selected for the unpaid position.

 

Today’s highlights

For 22 years, Santa has stood proudly in the parking lot at the White Elephant store on East Sprague Avenue in the Spokane Valley waving at passerby. The 13-foot tall statue once graced the windows of The Crescent department store in downtown Spokane. SR photo/Bart Rayniak.

There is a lot of Valley news to read today in the paper, so here’s the lineup. Budget discussions in Liberty Lake have been so contentious that a council member walked out of this week’s council meeting in frustration. One of the candidates for two vacant Spokane Valley Planning Commission seats is the half-brother of Mayor Tom Towey, but neither think his involvement is a conflict of interest. The mayor has recused himself from the appointment process, which will be handled by Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels.

Students at Otis Orchards Elementary are being exposed to art, theater, sports and martial arts thanks to a new after school program known as the Orchard Project. Correspondent Stefanie Pettit has a regular Landmarks feature that examines various local historic and iconic sites. This week she writes about the Santa at the White Elephant store that used to be on display at The Crescent department store.

In other Spokane Valley news, a Montana fugitive was arrested by police late Tuesday night. He led police on a chase before hitting a snow berm.

Spokane, Valley cities tie on census bet

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey

Elected officials are sometimes unable to avoid making bets with their counterparts in other realms about sporting events. When there are no decent sporting events, they sometimes cook up other competitions on which to wager.

Thus it was that Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey managed to bet on which city’s residents would do better on returning their 2010 Census forms by the end of April. Loser has to wear a shirt with the other city’s logo.

Although it is not yet the end of April, the Census Bureau has released the results for Washington city returns, so the day of reckoning is at hand.

And the winner is: Nobody. Or everybody. In other words, it’s a tie. Both cities have a return rate of 76 percent.

One might think the mayors would just let this little wager die a nice, quiet death. But one would be wrong. Each agreed to don the other city’s shirt, and issue a joint press release.

“The great people of the Spokane region once again delivered,” said Verner.  “I’m proud to wear Spokane Valley’s colors in support of all the people who filled out their 2010 Census forms.”
“Pink isn’t one of my favorite colors,” said Towey of the pastel shirt provided by Verner.  “But since Mayor Verner is one of my favorite mayors, I’m going to wear it proudly.”

And by the way, the mayors said. If you are among the one in four who didn’t turn in your Census form, be nice to the Census taker who comes to your door in May to get the information.

 

Election time…let’s see who’s filed…

No, not Lisa Brown yet for governor.

Locally, however, there’s already some interest in city council seats. A quick run through Public Disclosure Commission files shows that:

Tom Towey is running for a Spokane Valley city council seat. Towey’s a Spokane Valley planning commission member, longtime Rosauer’s manager and former write-in candidate for council against councilman Steve Taylor.

Spokane Valley Mayor Richard Munson (who appointed Towey to the commission) is also running for re-election. Munson’s a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and retired stockbroker.

Brenda Grassel, impressively, already has a website up for her run for Spokane Valley City Council. She and her husband own a manufacturing company, Precision Cutting Technologies, and have rental properties.

Steve Eugster, a longtime Spokane attorney, would-be long-haul trucker and law school classmate of Justice Richard Sanders, is running for Spokane City Council against Councilman Michael Allen, a 2007 appointee and former Eastern Washington University official who’s running for re-election.

Eugster was on the council at a more contentious time, departing 6 years ago, and he has uttered what is so far the best quote of the 2009 campaigns, referring to the now-much-less-exciting council: “This `Era of Good Feelings’ is putting us all to sleep.” (Eugster’s political resurrection prompted actual rejoicing from S-R columnist Doug Clark.) Still, judging by Allen’s former job with EWU, his fundraising should be formidable. He was director of the school’s corporate and foundation relations.

Spokane Valley City Councilman Gary Schimmels is running for re-election. He’s a longtime construction company owner who two years ago sold his business, Affordable Lock Express since 1998.

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s running for re-election. She’s a co-owner of a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company.

Challenging McLaughlin is Karen Kearney, a women- and children’s advocate and the former campaign chairwoman for Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Amber Waldref is running for Spokane City Council in District 1, for the seat currently held by Councilman Al French. She’s works for the Lands Council (a Spokane-based environmental non-profit group) is a Georgetown alumna, and counts among her Facebook friends state Sen. Chris Marr.