For just the third time in its short history, Liberty Lake has a new mayor.
Shane Brickner has emerged as the victor in his race against Steve Peterson, who’s held office for all but four years since Liberty Lake incorporated in 2000. An election night lead of 207 votes has continued to grow, and after Thursday’s ballot count Brickner had captured 56.5% of the votes for mayor.
“One of things I’ve always worked toward and will continue to work toward, is that the citizen’s voice is heard and the City Council’s voice is heard,” said Brickner, 44, who was first elected to the Liberty Lake City Council in 2011. “Too often the City Council felt they weren’t able to share their views as much.”
Peterson, 69, called Brickner on Friday morning to concede the race. The longtime officeholder said he wished his successor well and urged the new mayor to enter office with conviction.
“You have to come in with a plan, number one, and then you have to work your plan,” Peterson said. “You can’t be on the sidelines.”
Brickner inherits the office in a city poised for rapid growth, according to population projections prepared by local officials. The city of roughly 10,000 residents will hit 16,000 by 2037, according to those numbers, and along with that growth will come the need for more infrastructure projects like the new Interstate 90 overpass.
Brickner said he will have discussions with Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus about the potential need for more police as the city continues to add people.
“We need to have a conversation about where we’re at, that 1 (officer) per 1,000 (residents) minimum,” Brickner said. “What it’s going to take to get there, and how comfortable he feels with where we’re at.”
Recruiting new small businesses to town will also be a priority in his term, Brickner said.
“We need to look at what kind of businesses can we recruit in our city to diversify sales tax revenue, so we’re not dependent on the large businesses,” he said.
Peterson was an early backer of incorporation after moving to the area in 1997 and became its first mayor in 2001 in a race where his only opponent dropped out before Election Day. He held the position until 2007, when he lost to Wendy Van Orman by just 61 votes. He ran again successfully in 2011, the same year Brickner was first elected to the council, and ran unopposed four years ago.
Peterson said Friday he wasn’t through with politics, but said a run for another city office in the future was unlikely.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be done with being a part of the political world,” he said. “Helping people, that’s always been my goal.”
The outgoing mayor pointed to early decisions that put the city on sustainable financial footing as well as recent road projects and government-supported economic growth as points of pride during his 16 years in office.
Voters in Liberty Lake gave mixed signals on incumbents in the election. While Peterson and Councilman Bob Moore were handed defeats by challengers, Councilwoman Cristella “Cris” Kaminskas and Councilman Dan Dunne appear to be returning to City Hall. Brickner said he was confident he could work with the new council upon taking office in January.
“I’m going to continue to meet with citizens one-on-one, take their phone calls and hear them out,” Brickner said.
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