Regardless of who wins the Position 6 race for the Spokane Valley City Council, the city will remain a low-spending, low-tax, low-debt community of modest ambitions.
The city hasn’t taken the allowable 1 percent property tax increase in seven years, does little bonding, has fewer than 90 employees and contracts out for major services, such as law enforcement and trash removal.
If there’s a difference between incumbent Ben Wick, 33, and challenger Sam Wood, 68, it’s in how ambitious each wants the community to be. And it’s on this score that we endorse Wick for re-election.
Spokane Valley is the 11th-largest city in the state, but its government seems uncomfortable with the designation “city” and all the challenges that come with it.
For instance, projections have up to 120 trains passing through the Valley’s street-level crossings, and the city can’t seem to mobilize in response to the impacts. Wick notes the lack of momentum in the city and regionally to respond. He says the Valley won’t get much help from the state as long as its representatives are solid “no” votes on transportation packages. He is chairman of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council and says transportation would remain a priority for him.
Wood says he snagged the endorsements of Spokane Valley legislators Rep. Matt Shea, Rep. Bob McCaslin and Sen. Mike Padden because of his opposition to the recent gas tax increase. But this opposition makes it more likely the state will snub Valley projects.
Wick doesn’t want to increase the property tax and is comfortable with the Valley’s current financial picture, but he is correct in stating that sometimes you have to spend money to head off future expenses.
Spokane Valley is also struggling with a rewrite of its comprehensive plan, and the accommodation for more room for multifamily housing. Both candidates say this issue presents the toughest challenge.
Wood is on the city’s planning commission and is frustrated with the lack of information, such as firm population projections, from the county. Moratoriums on gravel operations and marijuana retail operations are hanging fire in the meantime.
Wood says the city probably missed an opportunity for a possible park site when the Painted Hills Golf Course property became available. The council voted to stay out of the bidding. Now, plans for a large private development are upsetting neighbors.
Wood, whose top issue is private property rights, was recruited to run by three current council members. If he defeats Wick, the council will lose an independent voice more attuned to the business and economic development wing of conservatism that knows investing in infrastructure now will save many more dollars down the road.
The council needs Wick’s perspective.
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