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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Longtime Rockford resident hopes to serve on town council again

Oct. 10, 2021 Updated Thu., Oct. 14, 2021 at 4:17 p.m.

After spending years attending town council meetings, a longtime Rockford resident wants to take a new turn making the decisions.

Ivan Willmschen, former council member and insurance agent, and Mark Lonam Jr. will be on the general election ballot on Nov. 2. The two beat incumbent Rachelle Arriaga in the primary after Willmschen beat her in a milk bottle tiebreaker. Lonam did not respond to multiple requests from The Spokesman-Review for comment.

Willmschen grew up in Rockford and lived there his entire life, aside from the few years he served in the military. He served on the town council in the late 1950s, and although he is not currently on the council, he never misses a meeting to this day.

“I’d like to see if I can’t influence the council,” he said. “Take a more aggressive action on things.”

Rockford is farming town in southeastern Spokane County with a population just under 500, according to the 2020 Census.

Willmschen said there are a number of things he sees going on in town every day that he would like fixed. For example, the streets need to be chip-sealed, some sidewalks need to be replaced, and new streetlights need to be installed. He also wants to see the creek that runs through town cleaned out regularly to prevent flooding, something that has been done in the past.

“I think the council is a little lax in pressing forward on these things,” he said. “They just hope they happen, and if they do, they do.”

Lonam beat Willmschen and Arriaga in the primary by only four votes. He had received 38 while Willmschen and Arriaga received 34. Arriaga had been appointed to serve on the council, but Willmschen said she had missed a few of the last meetings because of her work.

Willmschen said his experience living in town his entire life will help him as a council member. People in town already often ask him for advice or for his knowledge having served on the council in the past, he said. For example, he was on the council when the town’s current sewer line was put in, so he said he knows where the line runs.

He said he hopes to get more people involved in the town and the council. Right now, he said he’s the only member of the public who regularly attends the council meetings. One idea he has is to advertise the council meetings on the town’s new marquee sign, so more people are aware.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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