(Editor’s note: Previous endorsements can be found here.)
Regardless of the outcome of Spokane Valley City Council races, the city will be run by fiscal conservatives who will maintain large reserves and probably forgo tax increases. It’s been that way from the beginning; it’s what residents expect.
It’s been nine years since the council took the annual 1 percent property tax increase it’s entitled to take without going to the voters.
Part of the reason is the make-up of the Valley itself – quite conservative. It also helps that the city contracts for services, including law enforcement, which is its largest expenditure. The city, formed in 2003, has always used the Spokane Sheriff’s Department to protect and serve. As a result, it doesn’t have to sweat salary and benefit negotiations, which are a cost pressure for the county.
Though city council is a nonpartisan position, it’s always been dominated by Republicans. But the party itself has become divided, with constitutionalists and libertarians assuming more control. The first Valley council was dominated by people affiliated with the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce. Now it’s the Rep. Matt Shea wing of the party that is filling the council and the Valley’s legislative seats.
The race between Spokane Valley Councilman Ed Pace and former Councilman Ben Wick represents this divide.
Pace, a Lutheran pastor, gets excited by ideas such as Eastern Washington splitting off and becoming the 51st state. No surprise from someone who is wary of “regional entanglements,” an attitude that limits the possibilities of the Valley working with the county and cities of Spokane and Liberty Lake on an array of issues.
The irony is that Pace doesn’t mind entangling the council in social issues outside its jurisdiction. Last month, he proposed a draft of a parental rights ordinance, under which parents could send their unvaccinated children to public schools during disease outbreaks. Pace says he’s merely responding to the concerns of parents on this and other issues, such as teenage girls’ health issues. The proposal also spotlights school matters, such as sex education and bathroom assignments.
Ben Wick, who is IT manager at Spokane Industries, served on the council from 2011 to 2015. He’s always struck us as smart, thoughful and not particularly political. He also worked well with a variety of council members.
He would like for the council to stick to the basics and drop the extracurricular activism. He’d also like to see the council operate more openly. He points to the sudden and mysterious firing of City Manager Mike Jackson as the wrong way to govern. Pace supported the move.
Wick does believe there are benefits to regional collaboration. He is a citizen member of the Spokane Regional Transportation Commission, and notes the number of times the Valley representative isn’t in attendance. He says the Valley is harmed by not being at the table.
Wick’s brand of level-headed leadership stands in contrast to Pace’s penchant for turning the position into a platform for divisive issues.
Voters would be wise to pick Wick.
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