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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Liberty Lake candidates prepare for council races

The city of Liberty Lake has grown significantly in its first 10 years.

Issues dominating the campaign season include the city’s utility tax, which was created in 2011 when council members decided to balance the municipal budget by taxing gas, electricity, telephone and cable services at 6 percent. In 2012, the council slashed the rate to 3 percent and earmarked revenue for street projects.

Four seats are on the November ballot – three of those contested. Incumbent Keith Kopelson is running unopposed.

Council members earn $250 a month.

Position 1

• Debbie Haskins

Age: 51.

Occupation: Paralegal at Koegen Edwards LLP, focusing on public municipal finance.

Other public offices held: None.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: I believe in the city of Liberty Lake and its future and want to be part of the positive growing environment which has been set out by the mayor and council members. My slogan, “investing in the future,” is what I feel is important to the city. However, thoughtful growth is important as is not taking on too many projects at one time. I would like to see the city grow in the same manner as Spokane County, on an equal and even basis with not a lot of peaks and valleys. I feel this establishes a healthy and stable economy.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: To listen to our citizens and act accordingly. I do not have a large agenda. I feel, until elected, it is difficult to make promises to the voters on issues that I may not be fully informed on. Being educated and listening to what our citizens want is key to a vital, healthy city and to good decision making.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: Right now I feel the utility tax seems to be the No. 1 concern of citizens. It is up to the mayor and council to educate the citizens on what the utility tax is being used for. Currently, the 3 percent utility tax is being dedicated to street maintenance and repair. This is important so that our wonderful community does not end up with streets in disrepair like the city of Spokane’s streets. Liberty Lake’s 3 percent utility tax is low compared to the utility tax in surrounding areas: Spokane, 20 percent; Spokane Valley, 6 percent; Millwood, 6 percent; Airway Heights, water, 19.8 percent, sewer, 15 percent.

• Lori Olander

Age: 50.

Occupation: Retired Naval officer and nurse anesthetist at the Spokane Eye Surgery Center.

Other public offices held: Appointed to Position 1 in summer 2012; elected and appointed on state and national professional organizations.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: Being part of the conversation about how this city will grow is exciting. Liberty Lake has been very well run, and we have an amazingly good staff within the police force, city administration and maintenance departments. Our finances are stable, and we are poised to grow at a rapid rate over the next 10 to 15 years. I want to be part of maintaining the personality of this city as we grow.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: I am committed to a city government that lives within its means and is responsive to the wishes of the residents. I will continue to speak out for a decrease in the utility tax as a means to improve economic growth. Cutting gas and electricity rates from 3 percent to 1.5 percent will bring us down to a level matching Spokane Valley.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: As currently planned, most of the growth in Liberty Lake will take place in the River District north of the freeway. Decisions need to be made now that will affect the city’s ability to provide the same level of service as our population nearly doubles. We need to be committed to maintaining the streets, safety, open space, trails and parks. We need to foster economic growth in the commercial district to broaden the sales tax base, which will fund projects like a swimming pool, town center or community center in the future.

Position 2

• Hugh Severs

Age: 27.

Occupation: Owns and runs a financial services business.

Other public offices held: None.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: When the opportunity arose to run for and hopefully serve on Liberty Lake’s City Council, I thought long and hard about the commitment the position entails and the qualities an elected official in our local government should have. I bring vision, leadership and a service-before-self mentality – which will help me tackle any issue or decision. I have a background in business, planning and finance. In summary, I am running because I am both well-suited and prepared to help lead Liberty Lake and eager to serve my community.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: I promise to serve Liberty Lake with the intention of the citizens – businesses and individuals, children and seniors – in mind. I promise to serve with integrity and make decisions and cast votes only after having done the due-diligence necessary to do so in an informed and intelligent manner with the betterment of our community in mind.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: Liberty Lake has faced, is facing and will continue to face a large growth area. We are the premier community to live in and I hope to help keep it that way for the foreseen future. The top issue the city will face is how to properly plan for this surge in population while keeping the integrity of the city – what makes it so great – intact. What I mean is that today we have a very safe environment, great schools, a very clean, well-maintained, beautiful city with great parks and open spaces and much more. It would be very easy to allow large growth to fill our schools and parks over capacity, bring crime into the area and diminish the overall appearance of the city. It would be easy to cater to the new families and forget about existing residents – especially seniors. But with proper planning and decision making, I’m confident we can hone our environment for all of Liberty Lake’s citizens – young and old, new to the area or born and raised here. And I’m confident we can sustain our wonderful environment for years to come.

• Jeff Sitton

Age: 36.

Occupation: Owner of Spokane Roofing Co.

Other public offices held: None.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: I am running for City Council because I want to take a significant role in shaping Liberty Lake and its future. My experience in the business sector has given me the skills that will positively contribute to the council including leadership, conflict resolution, empathy and balance.

The future of Liberty Lake is the key driver for me. I want my children to live and be raised in a district that embraces its citizens by providing excellent education, access, safety, recreation and sense of community.

I strive that my input, decisions and strengths will be valuable in shaping Liberty Lake and that our city will continue to be an exceptional place to live and work.

Q: What is your key promise to voters, if elected?

A: I promise to be a productive and effective councilperson, if elected. I will work to stifle problems caused by political nuances that hinder progress and create thoughtful decisions that will positively affect generations to come.

My background and personality is one of action and getting things done. My goal is to support Liberty Lake’s successes, its people, schools and businesses in this community.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: I feel the No. 1 issue for the council is how to handle the rapid pace of residential growth. Liberty Lake is a fantastic community; people are flocking to this area to live. The schools in our district are becoming overcrowded. Roads need improvement. Businesses need to be enticed to move and stay here. Public utilities need to support new residences.

This No. 1 issue raised many others as a result. My experience and leadership will help direct decisions that have longevity and forethought. It is my goal to maintain Liberty Lake’s high quality of life for citizens now and in the future.

Position 4

• Odin Langford

Age: 61.

Occupation: Security operations area manager.

Other public offices held: City Council member and mayor pro tem, Liberty Lake

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: I want to continue serving as a councilmember to preserve this unique community. I have a reputation for serving with moral values, conservative financial approaches, being trustworthy and having the citizenship’s best interest at heart.

It is my opinion that Liberty Lake is at the crossroads. Where we go from here is either going to blend with our current values, lifestyles, city services and amenities, or without leadership that can call on historical value, we may be on the road to something totally different.

I am happy to say that I have played a part in our development, and I would love to continue serving.

I want to ensure that we are fully utilizing your property tax, without unnecessary increases.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: 1. Provide vision and the leadership to achieve it. 2. Remain trustworthy and loyal to the principles of servitude.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: Every one of us, including the city, will continue to face economic uncertainty. Surviving these downturns requires that we are well prepared, and that means having leaders that have vision, the ability to organize consensus and make changes that will serve the generations to come.

If you want to be represented by someone who is a proved leader, has life perspective, is trusted and financially conservative with your money, please vote for me.

• Mike Tedesco

Age: 35.

Occupation: Realtor.

Other public offices held: None, but has served in executive levels for public and quasi-public organizations.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: Liberty Lake is among the fastest growing cities in the state. I’m running for office to ensure future growth enhances our quality of life, rather than diminishes it. Maintaining Liberty Lake’s safe environment is foremost among my priorities, if elected to City Council. Because of my experience in urban planning, economic development and smart growth, I feel I can thoughtfully analyze pressing issues and contribute to the city’s future as a member of City Council.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: I will work to preserve and enhance Liberty Lake’s quality of life. When I knock on doors and chat with folks about Liberty Lake, inevitably they tell me they love living here because it’s such a safe community. Our kids can walk to the park or bus stop without too much anxiety, we all know our neighbors pretty well, and we all try to look out for each other (and our kids). As growth continues to take place, it will become increasingly challenging to maintain our quality of life. My goal is that Liberty Lake City Council 20 years from now can look back on this City Council and thank us for our vision and proactive approach.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: Although there are some significant choices facing Liberty Lake currently, I feel the incorporation of smart growth techniques is the most significant factor facing the community. Such techniques can minimize the risk for increased crime, enhance our quality of life, grow our property values and maintain Liberty Lake’s position as the most desired community in the metro. I’ll always have an eye toward the future and will do everything I can to ensure Liberty Lake becomes an even better place to raise a family.

Position 6

• Keith Kopelson

Age: 48.

Occupation: Business owner.

Other public offices held: Liberty Lake City Council.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

A: I enjoy community service, especially in this capacity as a council member. I feel that I bring a positive representation of a Liberty Lake resident and can provide input to issues that will best serve the community.

Q: What are your key promises to voters, if elected?

A: I will consider all aspects of every issue confronted within an effort to make the best decision possible for Liberty Lake residents.

Q: What is the No. 1 issue the City Council will face in the coming years?

A: To maintain the level of service that residents demand while continuing to ensure financial stability of the city.

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