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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley candidates offer different views on transportation

He’s half the age or younger than the other Spokane Valley City Council members, but that doesn’t seem to bother Ben Wick, 33. He was part of the Spokane Valley incorporation movement and ran for council in the very first election in 2003. “We were 52 people in that race,” Wick said. He didn’t make it, so he applied to fill vacant council positions in 2009 and 2011, before finally being elected in 2011. “I think I bring a little different perspective to the council,” Wick said about being the youngest on the dais. “I’m also very well prepared. I don’t like to be misinformed.” Wick’s challenger Sam Wood, 68, is making his debut as a political candidate. Wood said he believes in public service and watches most of the council meetings online at home. He received endorsements from Spokane Valley Republicans state Rep. Matt Shea, state Rep. Bob McCaslin, and state Sen. Mike Padden. “They support me because I’m opposed to the gas tax,” Wood said. “I’m opposed because that tax impacts the very poor more than it impacts the rest of us.” Transportation is one of Wick’s favorite topics and he’s quick to point out that the same Spokane Valley representatives did not vote for the state’s transportation package which included Valley projects. “Bridging the Valley is so important,” Wick said, referring to a plan that would build bridges and overpasses at some of the busy railroad intersections spread throughout Spokane Valley. “We have partial funding for the Barker Road grade separation - which would help us develop the land right there - but it’s very expensive.” Wood agrees that Bridging the Valley is important, but said other solutions than state funding have to be explored - and that raising taxes to pay for the project should be a last resort. “We have got to have more dialogue about how to do this,” Wood said. Spokane Valley has grown a lot over the past decade and that’s brought not just more traffic but also more people. The city is in the middle of updating its comprehensive plan, trying to address growth-related issued such as where apartment complexes may be built. Wick said the land-use issues facing the council are complicated. “We have to preserve our more rural heritage. I don’t want to be a sardine,” Wick said. “But we have to make room for people to live somewhere. We have to find a balance and provide a mix of dwellings.” He added that Spokane Valley still is struggling with some issues that existed before the city incorporated like streets that don’t align. Wood said updating the comprehensive plan will have an impact on property rights and values for years to come. “It is very important that we get this right,” Wood said. “Every day I see the impact that zoning and land-use regulations have on property values, rights and uses.” Because of his real estate background and work on the planning commission, Wood said he can bring valuable information to the City Council about growth issues. If elected, Wood wants to do a line-by-line evaluation of regulations and ordinances that affect Spokane Valley businesses, and simplify or eliminate those that are not necessary to protect public health or safety. Wick said the city is “essentially debt free” and he’s very satisfied that this is the seventh budget year in a row where the city is not taking the 1 percent property tax increase it’s allowed by state law. “Now we need to look to the future,” Wick said.
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