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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

Coeur d’Alene City Council endorsements

The Spokesman-Review

In deciding if candidates for Coeur d’Alene City Council are qualified for the job, it’s necessary to consider several factors. What is their involvement in local government and the community, and what are their accomplishments in private life? Do they understand key issues? What’s their vision for the city?

Will they work with Mayor Sandi Bloem’s administration to continue the progressive growth and ongoing redevelopment of Coeur d’Alene? Finally, would a given candidate fill a niche on the council? Does an incumbent still have the energy to do a good job? Does a candidate have the courage to take a principled stand against the rest of the council?

Based on those criteria, we recommend that Coeur d’Alene voters elect Mike Kennedy and re-elect incumbents Woody McEvers and Deanna Goodlander.

Council Seat No. 2 – Mike Kennedy

All three candidates for the open seat being vacated by Councilman Ben Wolfinger are qualified to hold office, and all have impressive strengths. Businesswoman Mary Souza understands the minutia of planning and the importance of open space, bike trails and managed growth from her four years of service on the Coeur d’Alene planning commission. Dan Yake, who has served as the city’s stormwater manager and growth services director, describes himself as the only true conservative in the race and was concerned most about keeping the city budget in control by holding down property taxes.

Kennedy, however, is one of the most exciting new candidates in the last two decades. Not only does he fit a demographic that’s now missing on the council – a working-class father with small children – but he has a broad understanding of Idaho by working on statewide campaigns for unsuccessful Democratic candidates Walt Minnick and Alan Blinken. Kennedy’s organizational skills proved important earlier this year when he helped organize the bipartisan push that enabled Coeur d’Alene to win a supermajority vote for a state-of-the-art library. His top priorities are important to Coeur d’Alene: protecting children, managing the town’s rapid growth and preserving access to public spaces such as Sanders Beach and Canfield Mountain.

Kennedy critics have only a few slippery issues to raise against him. He has been forced to rent a place from a friend to qualify as a city resident because his new house within the city limits won’t be completed until after Election Day. He is on a pace to set a record for fund-raising in a Coeur d’Alene council election, with a significant amount of money coming from outside the area. He is a conservative Democrat in a city that leans Republican. Ho-hum.

Council Seat No. 4 – Woody McEvers

McEvers, longtime owner of the popular Rustler’s Roost restaurant, is a local favorite who is growing into his role as a councilman. Sometimes he comes across as wishy-washy when faced with tough council decisions because he doesn’t like controversy, such as the Sanders Beach brouhaha tied to the annexation of the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. But he’s known for his hard work behind the scenes on unsexy issues, such as the overhaul of the city’s stormwater system and expanding program offerings of the city’s public television station.

Challenger Steve Foxx is a former Lake City High student body officer who left the Inland Northwest for eight years to go to college and see the world. Since his return 18 months ago, he has been involved in social work and refurbishing old houses. At 28, with a background in human rights work, he is the face of Coeur d’Alene’s future and proof that Coeur d’Alene’s youth can return home and make a living if they want to do so.

Council Seat No. 6 – Deanna Goodlander

A good argument can be made for either candidate in this race since challenger Suzie Snedaker has proved her value to the community as a neighborhood activist and planning commissioner who’d get up to speed quickly as a City Council member. But Goodlander has the edge here as a result of two significant strengths: experience as a two-term councilwoman and integral involvement in so many key issues – urban renewal, the education corridor, passage of the library bond and the bid to land a $29 million Kroc Community Center.

Goodlander prides herself in being part of then-mayor Steve Judy’s team that took a hard line eight years ago against the top-down management style of former City Administrator Kent Thompson and cleaned house. With their heavy-handed approach, Judy and his council chased off quality officials. Today, however, the city operates well under a management style that elevates department heads. Since the bumpy start, Goodlander has become a solid member of a relatively strong council. The council made a major mistake when it ignored her recommendation years ago to accept an offer from an East Lakeshore Drive owner to buy a significant portion of upland Sanders Beach.

Challenger Snedaker deserves consideration as a woman who brings people together and addresses neighborhood problems rather than just complain about them. Earlier this year, she was instrumental in focusing attention on the unofficial boarding houses for registered sex offenders that were springing up around Bryan School. Snedaker is known for her independence and passionate support of public spaces, like McEuen Field, Sanders Beach and Sherman Avenue.

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