Cheney Mayor-elect Allan Gainer has a history of innovation, working as a novelist, bookstore owner, journalist and disc jockey. On Jan. 1 he’ll bring that creativity to city government, along with a long list of ideas. “First I need to visit all the departments, listen to their concerns and bring them to the council,” said Gainer, who ousted two-term Mayor Amy Jo Sooy, 819 to 586, on Nov. 8.
Sooy, who said she has “enjoyed my eight years as mayor,” has yet to comment on her plans upon leaving office.
Here are Gainer’s top priorities upon taking office:
Tightening the budget. In the campaign, Gainer referred to the top-heavy salaries of city management. He hopes to correct that.
Opening City Council meetings to the public. “The public should be allowed to voice their opinions of issues. I would set a time limit for each person to speak,” Gainer said.
Changing meeting times. In conjunction with open meetings, Gainer wants to see council meetings videotaped on Cheney Cable.
Meetings traditionally are held at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Gainer believes scheduling them later in the evening would be better for working people.
Internships. Gainer also would like to see internships offered for Eastern Washington University students in city matters or local businesses.
Hiring another police officer. Gainer is pleased with the Cheney Police Department’s effectiveness but wants to find funds to hire one more officer.
“There is only one officer on duty at night,” he said.
Fixing water problem. The 19 miles of rusty water pipes under the city streets are another of Gainer’s priorities.
“It’s not the pipes that are at fault,” he said. “It’s the iron in the water.”
Much of the population surrounding Cheney would agree. Rural residents have had to install filters because of iron in their well water.
Gainer hopes to gather opinions from a variety of experts and residents, form a citizens committee and find a way to solve the problem.
Skate park. A skate park is high on Gainer’s agenda.
“And Cheney needs a movie theater,” he said. “Students want what’s hot, what’s the latest thing.
“We are losing $30 million in revenue to Spokane every year because we do not have the businesses to accommodate them.”
Suggestion box. Emphasizing his resolve to keep city business open to the public, Gainer might install a suggestion box for Cheney residents. Employee morale and motivation is important, and Gainer is perusing a way to reward an “employee of the quarter.”
Light Department. As for the future of the City Light Department, Gainer says the city profits $3,500 a day from the department’s sale of electricity and should not sell it.
Gainer, 44, and his wife, Trish, have been married for 20 years. They have two children, Jessica, 16, and Nicholas, 13.
Trish Gainer is regional manager for Promisson, a testing center for businesses.
“I’ve lived in Cheney on and off since the 1970s,” Gainer said.
In addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree at EWU in radio and TV management in 1985 and a master’s in management from Webster University in 1989, Gainer spent time in the Navy.
As a Navy journalist, Gainer won an award for radio and TV broadcasting and another for print journalism.
A disc jockey since 1979, Gainer “jockeys” for the American Legion and for weddings.
Gainer opened the Tree Of Knowledge bookstore in 2003, filling a need for used textbooks among EWU students. Along with selling books, he also writes them.
He has a published novel titled “Fire In The Fourth Dimension,” a time-travel story featuring an account of the Spokane fire of 1889 and is working on another novel, “Tattered House,” about a haunted house.
He’s also helped train Little League teams, which, he says, is not that different from being a mayor.
“A mayor is a manager,” Gainer said. “He helps employees find a better way of doing things.
“He’s like a coach.”
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