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Tuesday, June 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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First-time candidates vie for Airway Heights City Council seat

Sarah Slater, left, faces Jennifer Morton in the race for Airway Heights City Council position 7 in the November 2019 election. (SR and Courtesy)
Sarah Slater, left, faces Jennifer Morton in the race for Airway Heights City Council position 7 in the November 2019 election. (SR and Courtesy)

Two first-time candidates are vying for a seat on the Airway Heights City Council as growth flourishes in the West Plains.

Sarah Slater, 35, plans to focus on education and the next generation of citizens if she gets elected.

She recently became a para-educator at Sunset Elementary where three of her children also attend and continues to be involved in the Parent Teacher Organization.

“It’s just one more way that I get to connect with the parents and the students,” Slater said.

After moving forward in the August primary, Slater felt an “extra boost of confidence.”

“It means that people believe that I can do this job as much as I believe I can do this job,” Slater said.

Jennifer Morton, 37, hopes to continue “listening and learning,” when it comes to serving on City Council.

After the primary, Morton said in an email, “I felt overwhelmed with gratitude by the response from our amazing voters.”

Morton spent much of her adult life in school earning multiple degrees and finished her masters in business administration at Eastern Washington University earlier this year.

By serving on City Council, Morton hopes to guide the city through this period of massive growth, she said.

“The growth is going to be pretty substantial in what sounds like a short amount of time,” Morton said.

She noted that big businesses like Amazon opening in the area and changes at Fairchild Air Force Base also will bring more people to the West Plains.

“After talking with some fellow citizens, the lack of a medical center and the increase in petty crime has consistently come up,” Morton said in an email. “I plan to work towards finding solutions concerning these issues.”

With a projected influx of residents in Airway Heights, the Cheney School District has signed a purchase sale agreement on land for a new elementary school in Airway Heights.

Earlier this summer, Morton said school redistricting could be an option to address the growth.

Slater is supportive of the Cheney Public Schools property tax levy that would spend about $1.74 million on land for a new elementary school.

“Well my hopes and goals would be that everything passes and the school is built because the growth that’s been out here on the West Plains has just been phenomenal,” Slater said.

In 2017, the water in Airway Heights was deemed unsafe due to high levels of contamination linked to chemical use at Fairchild.

When it comes to water contamination in Airway Heights, Slater said she has been following the updates from the city and feels it’s being handled appropriately.

Water from Spokane helped flush out the pipes and water was deemed safe to drink within weeks.

When it comes to the abundant road construction in Airway Heights, “everything is going about as good as it can go,” Slater said.

A long term plan to address the water problem would help give community members reassurance that water will continue to be safe to drink, Morton said.

Over the last year, road construction has become common place in the area with projects like the Washington State Department of Transportation raised median projection on the highway near Hayford Road and Sunset Highway.

Slater said the construction is important for development even though it can be frustrating, she said.

“You can’t really put in new businesses and things without moving stuff around a bit and inconveniencing people for a little bit,” Slater said.

Morton hopes that her hardworking mentality will win over the community.

“The citizens of Airway Heights are looking for a hardworking dedicated leader to be their voice and advocate in addressing issues that matter to them and their community,” said Morton in an email. “I believe that I am that person at this time and will be a great fit for the position.”

Slater said she has focused on connecting with individuals in the community.

“I live here. I’m in this community every day,” Slater said. “I’m raising my family in this community and I just have a heart for everything here and all the people here. I think those ties to this community make me the best person for the position.”

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