The incumbent in the Liberty Lake City Council race, Cristella Kaminskas, said her two terms give her important experience to make good policy for the growing city.
But her opponents in the Aug. 6 primary say its time for change and say its not appropriate for her to serve on the same City Council as her father.
Kaminskas, who goes by Cris, has served on the City Council since she was appointed in 2010.
“There’s just going to be so many exciting things going on here in the next four years that I want to be part of it,” Kaminskas said. “I think it’s important to keep the experience and background knowledge on the council.”
Kaminskas serves on the council with her father, Robert Moore, who was appointed in 2014. Moore also is running for re-election this year.
“When the council seat became available, Cris and the other council peopleappointed Bob,” said Mayor Steve Peterson, who has not publicly endorsed a candidate in the race. “You can’t separate the family and council stuff no matter how much you try to do that.”
Kaminskas said she and her father don’t talk city business at inappropriate times.
But one of her opponents in the Aug. 6 primary, Tom Stanley, said the presence of a father and daughter on the council was one thing that motivated him to run.
“I don’t think you should have two family members on the council so I’m going to do something about it,” Stanley said.
There needs to be turnover, said Stanley, who supports enacting term limts for City Council members.
“I just think there should be availability for other people to serve,” Stanley said.
Kaminskas said she has “mixed feelings” about term limits because “experience and knowledge” are important on the council. However, term limits “make it easier to get rid of ineffective people.”
She said many people who challenge incumbents don’t understand the job.
“It’s disappointing that people feel they can just come in and get going the first day,” she said.
If elected, Kaminskas said she would not run for a fourth term.
The third member of the position 7 race, Jeanette Nall, also has raised ethical concerns about Kaminskas.
Nall ran for City Council in 2017 and lost by 3% to longtime council member Odin Langford. This race is really about the same issues, Nall said.
Nall received the support of Peterson in 2017 but was met with opposition by other City Council members, including her now opponent Kaminskas.
Nall alleges that four of the five City Council members violated open meeting laws by meeting to write and sign a campaign letter in favor of Langford and against her.
The letter was in response to Nall alleging that there was too much infighting among City Council members and the mayor.
“In our individual capacities as residents of Liberty Lake, we out rightly reject this notion that in-fighting and internal tension between the Council is preventing us from working together or moving the people’s business in a most cost-efficient and professional manner,” the 2017 letter reads.
Kaminskas, her father Moore, Langford and 2019 mayoral candidate Shane Brickner all signed the letter.
No official complaints alleging violations of the Open Meeting Act were filed in regard to the letter, Kaminskas said.
Kaminskas and Nall further clashed on a Liberty Lake community discussion Facebook page about the 2017 election.
“I saw some dark sides of personalities last time I was running,” Nall said. “It was shady, and it was against the law.”
Nall tried to withdraw from the 2019 race on May 20, 13 minutes after the deadline to withdraw, according to the Spokane County Election’s Office. The withdrawal was not accepted. However, Nall has not filed campaign fund-raising paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Documents were due to the commission at the end of May. Candidates can incur fines if they file late and larger penalties if they do not file at all.
Nall said she planned to drop out if another eligible candidate entered the race, but since she missed the deadline to drop out, she said she is committing to pursuing the office.
“Liberty Lake, as it is, is a pretty phenomenal community,” Nall said, adding, “There are other options than the way things are.”
Since being incorporated in 2001 the city’s population has doubled to more than 11,000 residents. That growth has led the City Council to create public spaces, work with the state on the Henry Road highway overpass and guide both business and residential development.
Many people move to Liberty Lake from out of state or Western Washington because it’s a small town and they don’t want that to change, Nall said, but growth is inevitable.
This growth that is happening now already was planned when the city got its start, Nall said.
Measured growth should be the goal, Stanley said.
“I don’t think we should be really concerned with growing really big,” Stanley said. “A lot of people move to Liberty Lake because they like it small.”
Stanley said he has heard from citizens that they don’t like big apartment buildings, and he agrees.
Limiting the growth of apartment buildings is important, Stanley said.
In recent years, the City Council has turned down multiple proposals for apartment complexes.
They just were not in the right location, Kaminskas said. By the Growth Management Act, it is mandated the city has certain housing densities, she said.
“We need different kinds of housing, and I totally support that,” Kaminskas said.
If a proposal meets the current development codes, “we can’t say no,” she said.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.