One of the three people running for mayor of Deer Park has decided to pull out of the race, but his name still will be on the primary ballot when it is mailed to voters in mid-July.
Hargis “Jeff” Adams filed for, and withdrew from, the races for Deer Park City Council Position 1 and Deer Park City Council Position 3 during filing week, filing for mayor last. His decision to withdraw from the mayoral race came after the ballots were printed. Adams did not elaborate on his decision when reached by phone.
“After careful consideration and thought, I decided to withdraw from the race,” he said.
That leaves incumbent Mayor Tim Verzal facing challenger Hazel McGillivray. Verzal, who is in his fourth year as mayor, said there’s still more he wants to do.
“I’m not quite done,” he said.
Here’s what the two remaining candidates had to say about what they would do if elected.
One of the key tasks will be to replace Community Services Director Roger Krieger, who is also the head of the sewer and water departments, runs City Hall, is the city planner and, until recently, did all the building permit and building code work. With the amount of work Krieger handles, it will be difficult to replace him, Verzal said, though the city recently hired someone to take on the code enforcement and planning duties.
“It’s going to take two to replace him,” Verzal said. “I need to find another clone.”
The city has 12 employees, five of whom work in City Hall. Verzal said he has been working to get the employees trained so they can handle other duties if there is an emergency. He’s also been working with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to add a second night deputy. The town currently has a contract with the Sheriff’s Office that provides one day deputy and one night deputy.
Night is when property crimes usually occur, and Verzal said he’s trying to be proactive. “I want a little bit stronger presence by the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “I’d rather be on the offense than the defensive.”
Verzal said he’s also been working to improve the city parks, partly by hiring a second seasonal employee to care for them and partly by getting funding for new play equipment for parks that don’t have any.
“I still want to improve on that,” he said. “We have seven parks, and we have three that don’t have little kids’ playground equipment. We’re working on that.”
Verzal served on the City Council for four years before he decided to run for mayor.
“I figured I could do a better job,” he said. “The reason I started this journey is because I wanted to learn more about our community. My kids grew up here, and now my grandkids are here. I care about this community.”
He grew up in Wisconsin and owned and operated a KFC restaurant there for 17 years. A friend of his moved to the area, and Verzal came for a visit and decided to stay.
He owned the Buckaroo Tavern from 1990 to 1994. For the last 20 years, Verzal has worked for 7C’s Construction, where he learned about sewer and water systems and road building, which has helped him know more about how the city works, he said.
“I bring a lot to the mayorship that a lot of people don’t,” he said. “I’ve learned how government works and how to work with it.”
McGillivray and her husband have purchased and remodeled several homes in the past five years and turned them into rentals, which she manages. McGillivray said she’s worried that Deer Park’s population will soon rise above 5,000, which will push it out of the small-town category. Special grants and other funding are available for small towns, but not larger ones, she said.
“There’s a lot of challenges coming up for the city of Deer Park,” she said. “I believe this next term is pivotal in the direction of Deer Park for decades to come. I don’t see an awful lot of preparation for the challenges coming.”
She said she’s concerned about the things Deer Park has lost, including businesses, as it has grown in population. The town has only one grocery store and no longer has a theater, a bowling alley or a motel.
“We are also shrinking in ways people don’t notice,” she said. “We used to have so many economic and commercial enterprises that aren’t here anymore. Obviously as mayor I can’t bring these businesses in, but I can encourage them.”
McGillivray said she believes in smart progress, economic restoration and citizen security. She said she’s concerned that criminals are more sophisticated than they used to be and property crime is rising. Still, she’s uncertain about how to provide that citizen security.
“There’s an awful lot of public support for Deer Park to create our own police department,” she said. “I’m not sure that’s actually the right direction. We do need something more than what we have.”
She grew up in Antioch, California. After high school, she was a weather observer in the Air Force for two years. She ran her own business buying and selling British motorcycle parts for seven years. She moved to Washington and worked as a telecommunications manager for Murray Franklin for more than 10 years.
She and her husband moved to Deer Park with their two young children in 2010. She has no political experience, but said she has plenty of life experience.
“All of my experience is practical,” she said. “I have children in this town. I love this town. I’d like to see us being everything we can be.”
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