A pastor and a dinosaur paleontology instructor are facing off for a chance at a vacant Cheney City Council seat.
A field of five candidates for Position 3 was winnowed to two in the August primary election. The winner will replace Jon Taves, who opted not to run for re-election.
Jacquelyn Belock, a resident of Cheney off and on since 2010, is a dinosaur paleontology instructor at Spokane Falls Community College. Mark Posthuma, who has lived in Cheney for 16 years, is lead pastor at Cheney Faith Center.
In the primary election, Belock collected 36% of the vote, the most of any candidate. Posthuma earned 30%.
“I was quite surprised,” Belock said. “I had hoped to do well. I hadn’t anticipated doing that well. It was really nice and really motivating.”
Belock earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Eastern Washington University and holds a master’s degree in paleontology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Posthuma earned a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies from Life Pacific College. He previously worked as a pastor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Klamath Falls, Oregon. He has not previously held any elected office.
Voters in Cheney are being asked on the November ballot if they want to approve a tax increase for public safety.
Posthuma, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, said it’s not something he prefers to do, but understands that it might be necessary in some cases. It’s irresponsible to just tax people more and more, but Posthuma said he hasn’t seen the numbers on what effect not raising property taxes would have on the city budget.
“Of course, I’d always like property taxes to be low,” he said.
Belock, however, is firmly against it. She said she’s in favor of sustainable property tax increases when necessary, but said residents can’t afford an increase of 15% over the next two years. She supports stepping up code enforcement efforts and other measures as a way to make money.
“We’re facing quite a steep property tax increase,” she said. “I think a lot of it has to do with revenue shortfall. There are other ways we can bring money into the city. I will be an outspoken opponent to huge property tax increases.”
Posthuma has said that he’s in favor of a purple pipe project to use reclaimed water in parks and other public spaces. Belock said the city needs to improve its infrastructure in general, since some pipes are crumbling and some homes have dirty water.
“I think it’s a good idea,” she said of the purple pipes. “We need to have the infrastructure improvement.”
Posthuma said he’s not focusing his campaign on any one issue and just wants to serve his community. He’s a frequent volunteer at local events and at the food and clothing bank. He’s also a baseball and basketball coach.
Posthuma said he hasn’t campaigned much, but has begun handing out yard signs. He said he hopes voters will look at his body of work, realize how much he’s done in the community and see him as an asset to have on the city council.
“I’ve been here for 16 years and I’ve been all in since I got here,” he said. “I hope people will look at that.”
Belock said she wants to be the voice of the people. “I’m here to put the people of Cheney first,” she said. “This is about representing them, not me, not my interests. Voting for me gives you a vote on that city council.”
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