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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick redistributes committees, duties for council members

The Spokane Valley City Council votes Jan. 7, 2020 to select Spokane Valley Councilman Ben Wick, (center) the new Spokane Valley mayor. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The routine business of Spokane Valley City Council already reflects the change in membership one week after Ben Wick took over as mayor.

Wick on Tuesday announced his selections of council members to serve on regional boards, evening out the number assignments. His selections mark a stark swing from last year when one council member was appointed to serve on only one committee while another ended the year with seven.

Wick, who led his second meeting Tuesday, said he was looking for a balanced approach to regional committees. He increased the number of committees Deputy Mayor Brandi Peetz serves on from one – a nonvoting position on a committee that met once all year – to serving on four.

In 2020, she will be a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board, the Finance Committee and Visit Spokane, and she will retain her position on the Tourism Promotion Area Committee.

“I’m extremely excited,” Peetz said.

Peetz said she attended meetings for boards she wasn’t appointed to last year because she wanted to stay as informed and involved as she could.

Last year, Wick was one of several more moderate council members in the minority that former Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins frequently overruled.

Wick also increased the number of committees he is on from two to five, several of which he is required to be a member of as mayor. Wick also appointed himself to the Spokane Regional Transportation Council from which he was unexpectedly removed in 2018 by Higgins.

When addressing fellow council members on the dais, Wick said he had tried to be fair when assigning committee work so everyone had a chance to share in the “fun and the pain” of being a part of a regional board.

“I’m just trying to come up with a balanced approach to giving and spreading all the committee work,” Wick said, “I know in the past not everybody has had the opportunity.”

Higgins, who was on seven committees last year, several of which were required of him as mayor, will now be on four. Councilman Arne Woodard, who was on seven committees last year and replaced Wick on the transportation council, will now be on two committees and be an alternate for the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. One of the positions he will retain is a member of the Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee, which studies regional solutions to housing shortages and homelessness.

Woodard said he appreciated that Wick “lightened his load” and that he had allowed Councilwoman Pam Haley to continue on the Spokane Transit Authority Board.

“I think Ben (Wick) did a pretty good job handing them out,” he said.

Higgins will be a member of the Aging and Long Term Care Committee, retain his position on the Wastewater Policy Advisory Board and also serve on the Clean Air board and the Governance Manual Committee.

Haley, who was deputy mayor last year, will be a member of the Spokane Transit Authority Board and the Continuum of Care for the Homeless Board.

Several council members who had fewer committee positions, also were alternates for council members who may not be able to attend the boards to which they were assigned.

Councilwoman Linda Thompson was assigned to the Finance Committee, the Governance Manual Committee and the Health District Board.

The newest City Council member, Tim Hattenburg, will be a member of the STA board and the Governance Manual Committee.