November’s ballot in Cheney will be confusing when voters get to position 7 on Cheney City Council.
That’s because the choices are Dan Hilton or Dan Hillman.
Hilton, 44, is the incumbent and a real estate broker.
“I have kids coming through and maybe some of my kids are going to be like me to stay here and want to live here forever, so I want to make sure that Cheney continues to be on the right path and the right decisions are made within the city,” Hilton said.
Hillman, 50, is an Army Gulf War veteran and current stay-at-home dad. He has no prior political experience, but decided he wants a say in Cheney’s future.
“The world is run by those who show up,” Hillman said. “In order to simply have a hand in the way that our city is run, I’ve decided to show up.”
Already a member of the Cheney Planning Commission, Hillman said he would take a careful, long-term approach for finding solutions to the city’s largest problems.
Like many others in Cheney, for Hillman this begins with water. The city has had water shortage and water quality problems in recent years.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t easy mainly due to a lack of resources. We need to increase our water production and our water storage,” Hillman said.
If elected, he plans to try to boost water production without raising water rates.
“It is going to be awhile, it depends on what happens developmentwise and what happens grantwise, but we are not going to be drilling wells tomorrow,” Hillman said. “It is going to be a process, that is going to last beyond any tenure of anybody that is on the council now.”
The incumbent said Cheney already has made significant stride in improving the water system, thanks in part to the addition of a new well that brings 1,500 gallons of water into the city each minute.
The additional water has allowed the city to begin flushing its pipes which should help get rid of the brown, low-quality water in the coming months.
“Honestly, next year, I don’t foresee any problems that we have had in the last 10 years,” Hilton said.
He said this isn’t a long-term solution and that reusable water will likely be the future as Cheney works to avoid water-shortages.
Hilton said that means being cautious with the city’s growth and ensuring the correct infrastructure is in place before more people move in.
Here, the challenger agrees. Hillman advocates limiting growth south of the railroad tracks and encouraging lower-density growth elsewhere, because the city is not prepared to boost public safety and water service to sustain significant population increases.
“We are going to have to be fairly careful,” Hillman said.
Hillman said the first duty of government is public safety and public health and as a result he will keep the police and fire chiefs supplied with what they need.
“In terms of public safety we are doing the best we can with the resources at hand,” Hillman said. “We’ve got a fantastic police chief, we’ve got a fantastic fire chief.”
Hilton had similar praise for Cheney’s first responders and said he would listen to both chiefs to know what they need and how the council can provide support. One example of this is Cheney’s new fire engine.
If re-elected Hilton would like to push a passion project bringing curbside recycling to Cheney.
“To be a college town, with youngsters coming through, we really should be looking to help out with those things, because there are just so many people who don’t recycle, because they don’t have time to go to the recycling center,” he said.
This is just one more step in Hilton’s goal to keep Cheney a safe, vibrant community.
“I care about Cheney, I am not going anywhere,” Hilton said.
Hillman has a pet project of his own should he join council: a dog park.
“I’ve got a couple hounds of myself, so dog parks are a good way to keep them out of people’s hair, but still give them a place to run,” Hillman said.
In the spirit of his attitude of showing up, Hillman would assist a local group already working on the idea.
Four seats on Cheney’s seven-person City Council are on the Nov. 5 ballot.
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