Two military veterans who haven’t served in elected office are vying for position 1 on the Liberty Lake City Council.
Retired state of California employee Dannetta “Dg” Garcia and homebuilder Phil Folyer hope to replace Councilman Bob Moore, who abandoned the seat in favor of running for the seat vacated by Shane Brickner, who is running for mayor against incumbent Steve Peterson.
Garcia was born in Richmond, Virginia, and was raised all over the world as self-described military brat. Her father served in the Air Force.
“We don’t actually call ourselves from anywhere,” she said.
Along the way, Garcia was given the nickname Dg and it stuck.
“If someone would call me by my given name, I probably wouldn’t recognize it,” she said.
After high school, she married and had a family before she joined the Air Force herself. She served for seven years before she was injured and decided to go back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in multicultural psychology.
She lived in Sacramento for many years. She worked in the California Secretary of State office for several years and also worked with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in the Office of Governmental Regulations and the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians before retiring.
Garcia had family living in the area and after several trips here she decided to settle in Liberty Lake in 2015.
“I had been stationed at Fairchild in the ’80s so I was familiar,” she said.
Folyer was born and raised in Wisconsin and became a carpenter’s apprentice right out of high school.
“Back in Wisconsin you either worked on the farm or were a trucker,” he said. “I wanted to do something different.”
He moved to Otis Orchards when he was 20 because his then-wife had family in the area and fell in love with the area.
“I’ve never considered going back,” he said.
He served with the Army National Guard before he retired as a first sergeant after 21 years of service. He worked as a superintendent for Parkland Homes, which built some of the first homes in Liberty Lake in the 1990s. He worked as a project manager for Sullivan Homes for five years before starting his own business, Phil Folyer Homes, in 2002.
He was deployed for a year in 2003 and shut his business down. When he came back, he found the Spokane area in the midst of a housing craze with few lots available for purchase, making restarting his business difficult. He took a job with Morse Western Homes, which was a builder on the Eagle Ridge housing project with plenty of available lots, and then bought the business four years later.
Folyer now builds mostly custom homes in areas like Eagle Ridge and Legacy Ridge in Liberty Lake. He used to be involved in Spokane Home Builders, twice serving as president, but decided he wanted a way to serve his community that didn’t require so much travel. He applied for a vacant seat on the Liberty Lake planning commission in 2018 and was appointed.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of stuff done.”
Folyer decided to run for a City Council seat last year and said he thinks his experience as a homebuilder will be an asset.
“I need to be involved,” he said. “I need to have a say.”
He said it was his intention to run against Moore based on what he’d seen in the City Council meetings he attended.
“I found myself disagreeing with Bob more than I agreed with Bob,” he said. “I respect Bob’s service and everything he’s done. I was just thinking it may be time for a change.”
Garcia said she wants to serve on the City Council as a way to give back.
“If someone sees an opportunity to represent their community, I think that’s the same duty as when you serve in the military,” she said.
She said she decided to run for position 1 after Moore filed for another position because she wasn’t interested in running against an incumbent.
“I felt the City Council was not doing a bad job,” she said. “I thank Mr. Moore for the opportunity. I would never run against someone the voters think is doing a good job.”
Though she hasn’t held elected office before, Garcia said she has already contributed to the city. After Hurricane Maria, she was interested in getting flood insurance but was told it wasn’t available because Liberty Lake was not part of the National Flood Insurance program. Cities have to request to join the program, and Garcia went to a City Council meeting with a representative of the Department of Ecology and lobbied for the city to join.
Garcia said the city has passed a resolution of its intent to join the National Flood Insurance program. That insurance would also cover damage from events like a water main break, she said.
Garcia said she has also been working to organize volunteers to help voters get their ballots to a drop-off point.
“There are pockets in our community where seniors don’t drive,” she said.
While she’s organizing the effort, Garcia said she won’t be participating herself.
“I wouldn’t do it,” she said. “I’m running for public office. I pride myself on being ethical and honest.”
She said she believes the city needs to be able to deal with coming growth, which includes properly funding the police department so they can manage an increase in calls.
“We have to ensure we have the right amount of funding for it,” she said. “It must be the top priority.”
Folyer said transportation improvements are necessary to deal with the city’s growth, but said he’s often frustrated that street improvements frequently go over budget.
“My world is, you don’t go over budget,” he said. “To me, I think that’s where my construction background comes in.”
Garcia said she wants to represent her community on the council.
“I am confident that I have the leadership qualities and skills to make me the leader the community really needs,” she said. “Everyone in this community has something to add. I want to be able to give them that opportunity, to add what they think is necessary, not what I think is necessary.”
While Folyer isn’t running against the opponent he planned, he said he still thinks he’s the best fit.
“I deal with budgets all the time,” he said. “I’m comfortable with making decisions that are related to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
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