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Millwood mayor seeks third term

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 13, 2021

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Millwood Mayor Kevin Freeman says he’s running for a third term to help see through an important traffic and planning project for the town.

He faces Matt Dean, who acknowledges some missteps many years ago but says he would look out for the best interests of the town as a “blue collar mayor.”

Dean’s wife, Becky Dean, also is on the ballot, running for Millwood City Council against incumbent Dan Sander.

“I wanted to be able to help my community,” Matt Dean said. “I figured, what better way?”

He grew up in California and served in the Navy for four years before working as a bartender and restaurant manager in California for several years.

“I’ve lived from Sacramento to L.A.,” he said.

He met his wife while he was in the Navy after a friend introduced them, and he reconnected with her over Facebook. He moved to Millwood in 2010 to be closer to her, and the couple soon married. He has worked as a furnace operator at Collins Aerospace in Airway Heights for the last seven years.

Dean is forthcoming about his missteps along the way. While he was still living in California, Dean served 10 months in prison after being arrested for driving under the influence multiple times.

“I had an alcohol problem,” he said.

He said it was realizing that there was a bigger power that persuaded him to get sober, and he’s been sober for more than 12 years.

“I gave my life to Christ,” he said. “He found me where I was.”

Now he tries to help others struggling with addiction, leading weekly Reformers Unanimous meetings at his church, Valley Landmark Missionary Baptist.

Freeman grew up in Portland, though his mother and aunt grew up in Millwood. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s degree in hydrogeology. He’s been a consultant for 30 years and has been principal geologist and co-owner of Inland Earth Sciences since 2014.

Freeman and his wife moved to Millwood in 1998. In 1999, he joined the city’s planning commission. After four years there, he was recruited to run for a city council seat.

“Council was kind of a natural offshoot of the planning commission,” he said. “Millwood was small back then and it was tough to find people interested in running.”

After eight years on the council, Freeman was elected mayor eight years ago. Freeman said he thought about not running again, but he’s been working on the planning for a proposed Argonne Road congestion relief project for some time and wants to see the project through.

In addition to left-turn lanes, the project includes a multiuse path on the east side of Argonne that will connect to the Millwood Trail.

“It’s not just left turn lanes,” he said. “It’s a pedestrian crossing that won’t make people afraid to cross Argonne.”

He said the city needs to establish itself as a whole community, with the amenities and identity that make people want to live there, including sidewalks, street lights and quality law enforcement.

A town surrounded on three sides by a much larger city has to work particularly hard to have an individual identity while being financially solvent and preserving the small-town feel, Freeman said.

“That’s been kind of the balance that we’ve tried to strike,” he said.

Freeman said he’s proud of how Millwood has weathered the pandemic.

“We are in a sound financial position,” he said. “We are not in debt.”

Dean, who volunteers with Blessings Under the Bridge, said he’d like to see Millwood use the services offered by Spokane and Spokane Valley, including homeless services.

“There’s no invisible boundary that keeps people out,” he said. “There’s a good amount of homeless population here. To me, I don’t think the city has done enough to address that.”

He’d also like to see better communication with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which provides law enforcement coverage for Millwood.

“I think there could be better communication between the residents, the city of Millwood and the deputies,” he said. “I just want to make sure Millwood is kept safe.”

Dean said he’s ready to serve.

“The best way to lead is by serving,” he said. “I’m asking people to vote for me because I’ll be a blue-collar kind of mayor. I’m just a guy, and I want to work with everybody here.”

Freeman said he hopes his years in city government speak for themselves.

“I would like people to think I’ve always put the city first in everything that I’ve done,” he said. “If I’m re-elected, this is my last term. I’m not doing this again.”

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