An incumbent Coeur d’Alene city councilman and longtime public servant has drawn two challengers who say the Lake City’s government is not inclusive of all points of view.
Dan English, 68, is seeking his second consecutive and third overall term on the Coeur d’Alene City Council in Tuesday’s election. He faces Tom Morgan, a 51-year-old heating and air conditioning technician concerned about the panel’s representation of the working class, and Lacey Moen, a 36-year-old aesthetician who believes city government could do more to speak directly to younger residents through social media.
English, who served 15 years as the elected Kootenai County clerk on behalf of the Democratic Party, said his recent retirements from nonprofit boards and a desire to see major renewal projects completed were spurring his decision to run for another term.
“I was born and raised in Coeur D’Alene, and I’ve seen it through generations of change,” English said. “Obviously the hot thing right now is growth. But I’ve been here when we’ve got the opposite, when you’re in economic tough times.”
English said he was particularly excited to see the fruits of new planning efforts surrounding Kootenai Health and the returns on investments in the Lake District, a 671-acre area of targeted improvements that have led to the renovation of McEuen Park and the Riverstone development.
Morgan, who lives just north of the East Sherman neighborhood, applauded the accomplishments in Riverstone. But he said that approach may not make sense in other parts of the Lake City, which he said could continue to ratchet up the cost of homes and rent in the city and price out longtime residents.
“We need to be asking the question, Is what we’re building what we need?” Morgan said. I have a concern with overlaying an urban renewal district over an existing neighborhood.”
East Sherman is an example of what organic development in Coeur d’Alene could be like, without sequestering increment tax increases to bring more high-rise development, Morgan said. He praised the number of businesses that have opened along the stretch and the diversity of housing as a model of sustainable growth for the city.
Moen opened Earthly Beauty Bar, a salon at the corner of Fourth Street and Front Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene, eight years ago. The single mother and business owner said she was inspired to run by the people who frequent her business and air their concerns about how the city is handling bustling growth.
“When you watch a city council meeting, you feel like there’s been decisions that have been made – they don’t explain anything,” Moen said. “I think that there needs to be true transparency.”
That could be achieved through the creation of a city smartphone app, Moen said. Such communication would be targeted at people like herself, adults in their mid-30s, the median age of residents of Coeur d’Alene, according to U.S. Census data.
“The truth is, we’ve got a lot of young families,” said Moen, who is raising a 10-year-old daughter. “They really feel like they’re out of the loop.”
Morgan said the disenfranchised are income-constrained families, like the kind of people he serves as a board member of local nonprofit the Lake City Bicycle Collective, which offers reduced-price bikes and repairs to low-income residents in town. The group formed in 2017.
“The city needs to work on the bus system, and expand that,” Morgan said. “For people that are on fixed incomes, or struggling to be able to drive. There’s a lot of retirees and aging folks coming to the area.”
English also noted the large influx of retirees, based upon national rankings that put Coeur d’Alene near the top as a destination spot for folks that have ended their careers. He also said his professional and political records, working with nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and establishing a branch of Anchor House for at-risk youth in the early 1980s, shows he can work with people of all ages and across the political spectrum.
“Pretty much all of the populations I’ve worked with in my career, it’s been more heavily focused on folks in need in different ways, economically and other things,” said English.
English has received endorsements from unions representing Coeur d’Alene police, firefighters and other public employees.
A fourth candidate in the race, Roger Huntman, ended his campaign earlier this fall, citing an inability to raise enough money to mount a campaign. That decision came after the deadline to remove his name from the ballot, so Huntman will appear when Coeur d’Alene voters visit the ballot boxes next week.
Election Day is Tuesday in both Idaho and Washington.
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