A vacant Cheney City Council seat has attracted a lot of attention, drawing five people seeking to win one of the top two spots and advance to the general election in November.
Position 3 incumbent John Taves did not file for re-election, opening the door to a full slate of challengers. Jacquelyn Belock, Ryan Delaney, Tim Gainer, Mark Posthuma and Justin Amyot all filed for the vacant seat.
The election for the seat is Tuesday.
Belock has lived in Cheney off and on since 2010. She holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s degree in paleontology. After working at a museum in South Dakota and as a field technician in Colorado, she was hired to be the dinosaur paleontology instructor at Spokane Falls Community College two years ago.
Belock said she’s always been interested in local government and was paying attention during filing week to who was filing to run for the vacant seat. She said she thought the others running were not representative of the town.
“I wasn’t really liking what my options were,” she said.
That led Belock to run herself. Candidates should know how government works and not hold extreme views, she said.
“We need common sense in our government,” she said. “We need to have people who think rationally and think long term.”
She doesn’t have any particular issues with council decisions, Belock said: “I’m not necessarily against what the City Council has been doing.”
But Cheney needs to be ready for people who will want to move there to escape higher rents elsewhere, she said.
“I’m here to leave Cheney a better place,” she said.
Delaney grew up in Cheney and moved to Hawaii shortly after graduating from Cheney High School and getting married. He worked as a substitute teacher and a radio host before moving back to Cheney five years ago to take over the family business, the AAA Inn, after his father died.
“I actually grew up here at the business,” he said. “We’ve had this place since 1991.”
It was his debate club in college that got Delaney interested in politics.
“When I came back to Cheney, I felt the need to be involved in the community,” he said.
He took a seat on the park board four years ago and began going to city council meetings.
“I just want to contribute to the city,” he said.
When he saw there was going to be a vacant City Council seat, he filed for it. He said he was surprised that so many other people had the same idea. Delaney said he filed for the vacant seat rather than against one of the incumbents running unopposed because he likes the work the council is doing.
“They do a good job,” he said.
He believes the City Council could use the perspective of someone who grew up in Cheney and knows what it used to be like, while also guiding the town’s future.
“I am interested in trying to help maintain and manage the growth in Cheney,” he said.
Posthuma, lead pastor at Cheney Faith Center, has lived in Cheney for 16 years. He and his family love Cheney, Posthuma said.
“We wanted to put down roots somewhere and just stay there for the rest of our lives,” he said. “We like the small town feel next to a big town. People are really great. It has lots of things throughout the year that are fun.”
Posthuma frequently volunteers at local events and at the food and clothing bank. He’s also been a baseball and basketball coach for Cheney Parks and Recreation, and at local schools.
“I’ve been serving the city in all kinds of different ways,” he said.
He sees being on the City Council as another good way to serve his community. He said he was surprised to see so much interest in the vacant seat.
“I was hoping not to have to run against anyone,” he said.
Posthuma said he agrees with many of the things the city has been doing, including the purple pipe project to use reclaimed water in parks and other public spaces.
“There’s a lot of great things the mayor and City Council have been doing that I want to continue,” he said.
He’s also in favor of balancing the city’s budget without raising taxes.
Neither Gainer nor Amyot responded to multiple requests for an interview.
Gainer, who ran unsuccessfully for a Cheney City Council seat in 2017, works as a system engineer for Davis Communications Inc. When Gainer ran in 2017, he said he thought the City Council and mayor were exaggerating the city’s water problems.
He submitted the following statement to the VoteWA online voter’s guide: “I am running for City Council to make a difference for the citizens of Cheney. I will make informed common sense decisions regard our great city. I will also provide new insight on issue facing our city.”
Amyot, who works at Vision Haus Optometry in Cheney, submitted this statement to VoteWA: “I was never really interested in city politics, but when COVID hit I watched a few of the City council meetings online. Here I saw how disappointed some people were that they could ‘only’ raise taxes by 2% this year. In that same meeting a gentleman asked how we could cut spending or spend more efficiently and the council basically said since he lived on the outskirts of town it wouldn’t affect him and moved on. That moment, I felt that I should do something more than complain.”
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