Medical Lake has no debt, and the candidates for one of the seats on the City Council agree it should stay that way. But how the city should spend its money on depends on which candidate you ask.
Incumbent Elizabeth Rosenbeck said she wants park beautification and expanded internet access, while her challenger Dawn Olmstead said the city should bolster support for small businesses, schools and a local police department.
Rosenbeck, who ran unopposed and won the seat in 2019, said fiscal responsibility was her bottom line.
“My biggest goal is to make sure that we do not go into debt, honestly, that we are good stewards of the budget, that we have a balanced budget and that we are in the black at all times. And that’s exactly where we are,” Rosenbeck said.
While Olmstead has no experience in politics, she grew up in Medical Lake, raised her kids there and owns a small business – Olmstead Quilts. As Medical Lake continues to grow in population, Olmstead said the city could provide incentives for new storefronts downtown without losing Medical Lake’s small-town charm, including targeted business support.
“I don’t necessarily want our town to grow into a big city,” Olmstead said. “We have a little, small-town feel, and that’s really special … I just want to take a proactive approach to making sure we can stay a distinct place and be a place where people want to come and just have fun and enjoy their time.”
New businesses would be welcomed, Rosenbeck said, but she said it was not up to the city to incentivize people buying property downtown.
Instead, Rosenbeck said she wants to see a designated parks manager for the area, especially around Medical Lake. Having a person whose job centers on maintenance, cleanup and enforcement of park rules would make the lakes more enjoyable for residents, Rosenbeck said.
Then there is the question of expanding internet access, which Rosenbeck said she wanted to focus on upon re-election.
Olmstead has a similar perspective, but said she also wants to encourage more city-sponsored events and support for the local school board.
“We could get some programs for high schoolers to do some kind of civics internships or lessons or something from the city government just to be more involved in the kids’ lives,” Olmstead said.
A disconnect between the residents and the council has grown, Olmstead said, and she wants to help bridge that.
Fixing roads and parks is something on which Olmstead and Rosenbeck agreed, but Olmstead said she also wanted the city to consider funding a local police force, which Rosenbeck said the city can’t afford.
“I personally am fine with the way things are. I like being contracted to the county (sheriff), we’ve got a lot more resources out there and it’s less expensive for us to contract with the county,” Rosenbeck said.
“That’s always been a debate and that’ll always be a debate.”
The town of Medical Lake is run well, both candidates said, but the city sits at a pivotal point because of its recent growth.
In the 2020 census the population surpassed 5,000. Olmstead said the city should embrace change without losing its small-town charm, while Rosenbeck said the city should stick to wise spending and basic public works.
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