Voters will choose between two women with long-time ties to Coeur d’Alene for a seat on the City Council.
Retired police department spokeswoman Christie Wood and local business owner Elaine Price are vying to replace Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Ron Edinger, who is retiring after serving on the council or as mayor for 50 years.
Wood said the Coeur d’Alene Police Officers Association always supported Edinger and she helped with several of his campaigns.
When she contacted him ahead of this year’s election he said he was retiring and Wood saw the opportunity to fulfill her longtime goal of serving on the City Council.
“I always wanted to, even when I was a patrol officer,” she said. “(Edinger) has been very supportive. He endorsed me. I would have never run against him.”
Wood is well known in the community thanks in part to her 26 years as a Coeur d’Alene police officer, the last 15 of which she was the official spokeswoman for the department.
She’s also served on the Coeur d’Alene School Board and currently serves on the North Idaho College Board of Trustees and the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force.
Price, who owns Spartacus Coins Bullion with her husband, said she was inspired to run for City Council after she got involved in a land-use decision.
“Last year they tried to put in a huge apartment complex at the end of my block,” she said. “It just was not a good fit.”
She said she and other neighbors attended a city planning commission meeting to argue against the project.
“I just felt like they didn’t care,” she said. “They approved it. I was not a happy camper.”
The project also was approved by the City Council, but neighbors appealed the decision and won.
She said she was dissatisfied with other things going on in the city and decided she could complain or try to do something about it.
“I’d never thought about politics,” she said. “I’m gong to see if I can make a difference.”
Wood grew up in Spokane until her family moved to the woods above Hauser Lake when she was 10.
After she graduated from Lakeland High School in 1979 she took criminal justice classes at North Idaho College.
One of her classes was visited by former Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson, who at the time owned a company that provided security at area lumber mills.
“I needed a job desperately at the time,” she said. “I showed up at his office after class.”
Watson hired her and she worked for his security company for a couple years before he trained her to be a private detective.
He also persuaded her to join the Air Force, where she served as a law enforcement specialist.
“He was my mentor,” she said of Watson. “He kind of pulled me into law enforcement.”
She came back to Coeur d’Alene in 1985 and was a stay-at-home mother for a while and also worked as a private detective before she joined the police department in 1990.
She was the department’s first school resource officer and later would be put in charge of all the resource officers.
“It’s a small department,” she said. “You have to do it all.”
Price was born and raised in the small town of Manson, Iowa, where she graduated from Manson Senior High in 1987 and then got married.
She and her family moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1990.
Price has held several jobs and once ran a daycare out of her home for two years.
She worked in management at Perkins Restaurant and then worked for Fred Meyer, working her way up from a part-time cashier to management.
She remained with Fred Meyer for 18 years and then worked as a bookkeeper and office manager for Edgewood Log Homes before she and her second husband opened their business in 2014.
Wood said she sees a city council position as a continuation of her community involvement that has only increased since she retired in 2015.
“I like being involved,” she said.
One of her goals if she is elected is to make sure the police and fire departments have the equipment they need.
“It’s fairly obvious where my heart lies, public safety,” she said.
She said she also believes her experience in budgets and planning will be useful, particularly her experience on the school board.
“Educators plan for everything,” she said. “When we follow the plan everything goes very smoothly.”
Wood said the city doesn’t do much budget planning.
“Right now their budget feels a bit scattered,” she said. “They focus on what is an immediate need and don’t forecast.”
Growth is having an impact on the city, creating a need for affordable housing, Wood said. She’s in favor of the comprehensive plan process the city just started.
“I’m not in favor of the spot zoning,” she said. “The planning is the thing the city is most lacking.”
Price agreed that growth is a big issue and said she doesn’t agree with how the City Council is managing it.
“That’s because it’s affecting so much of the infrastructure,” she said. “They’re changing the character of the city by the type of growth that they’re doing.”
Affordable housing is also a key issue, she said.
“We’re a tourist town,” Price said. We have a lot of hotels, a lot of restaurants. These workers can’t even afford to live in town.
“Is there an easy solution for that? Absolutely not. Just because we can’t come up with an easy solution doesn’t mean we can’t talk.”
Both candidates have ties to Dan Gookin, a council incumbent running for this third term on the November ballot.
Price supports him and agrees with him on several issues related to growth.
She said he’s often the lone dissenting voice on the council.
“Dan can’t do it alone,” she said. “He can make a motion, but no one seconds him and it goes no further.”
Wood and Gookin have had a confrontational relationship in the past, with Gookin once giving Wood unflattering nicknames.
But Wood said after he was elected to the City Council she worked with him on projects related to her work on the NIC board of trustees and doesn’t anticipate having any issues if she’s elected to serve alongside him.
“Dan and I have buried the hatchet,” she said. “We don’t agree on everything but we agree on enough. We’re going to be just fine working together.”
This is Price’s first run for public office and said she chose Edinger’s seat because it would be vacant.
She acknowledges that going up against someone with name recognition like Wood will be difficult.
She said she believes she has something to offer voters.
“I’ve been on food stamps,” she said. “I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. I don’t know that any of the current City Council can say that.
“I’m just an average person who wants to be the voice of the people.”
Wood said she’s heard some people call her a political insider, but she disagrees with that.
“I’m not a political insider, I’m a longtime volunteer,” she said. “All the offices I’ve held are nonpartisan.”
Wood said she believes her experience makes her a good choice, particularly her work on the school board planning for ever increasing numbers of students.
“I’ve lived through the growth issue,” she said. “I’ve done the planning. I’ve done the work.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.