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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Local government

Experience or fresh perspective? Candidates square off in Spokane Valley City Council race

Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Pamela Haley, left, and challenger Angie Beem. (Kathy Plonka/Courtesy photo)
Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Pamela Haley, left, and challenger Angie Beem. (Kathy Plonka/Courtesy photo)
By Cody Cottier For the Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Pamela Haley says her competition in November’s election needs to learn more about city government.

Haley’s opponent, Angie Beem, thinks she can provide a stronger voice for citizens.

“I think her heart’s in the right place,” said Haley, who was appointed to her seat in 2016. “I’m just not sure she has the experience or knowledge to jump in and do this at this point.”

Beem said she thinks Haley has been too quiet since she was appointed. She added that the councilwoman seems to be finding her voice, but Beem thinks she is better able to stand up to the council and advocate for what she believes in.

“I won’t sit quietly by and shake my head,” Beem said. “I will speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

She said one qualm she has with the current government is a lack of transparency and accountability. Among her first goals if elected would be the creation of an ethics commission.

“Nobody that’s dealing with millions of dollars of taxpayer money should only be answering to themselves,” she said.

She also wants to form either a human rights commission, or to join Spokane’s. As someone with a “big heart for marginalized people,” she said she thinks this would help to address the area’s homeless problem.

Haley’s top priority is recruiting and retaining law enforcement, which she said has become challenging due to relatively low pay and unfavorable public perception.

“I think it’s difficult right now to hire deputies, because they’re kind of a sitting duck in a car,” she said. “There’s a lot of bad press, and they aren’t treated very well.”

Though the city can’t increase police salaries, Haley said she hopes to offer incentives in the form of bonuses for each year officers stay in Spokane Valley, as well as for transferring to the city in the first place.

She wants to address the city’s roads, and said city officials will have a better idea of improvement costs by early next year. After this, she said, she wants to seek public input on what residents are willing to pay, and develop a solution before peak construction time in the summer.

“I do think that the roads are going to be an issue,” she said, “and I do think we need to deal with it.”

Beem said she would consider budget cuts in some areas to reallocate money to roads, as well as sidewalks, crosswalks and law enforcement.

Both candidates increased economic development in Spokane Valley. Haley noted that two new companies recently moved into the industrial park after the city expanded sewer and water. She hopes to see more growth in this area, and the high-paying jobs that come with it.

Beem agreed that Spokane Valley needs more jobs that pay well, and to bring them in, she said, the city must make itself more attractive to employers. She said one way to do this could be by creating more activities in the area, so people don’t just go to Spokane instead.

She said she would like to see in-demand manufacturers – of renewable resources, like solar panels, for example – move to the city.

“I want working families to have a living wage,” she said, “so they don’t have to work three jobs.”

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