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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dan Dunne faces off against Larry Marshall in Liberty Lake City Council race

An engineer with over a decade of political experience is hoping to fend off an engineer with hardly any political experience and hold onto his Liberty Lake City Council seat.

City Councilman Dan Dunne is one of six Liberty Lake City Council members who will appear on November’s general election ballot in contested races. He’ll face off against Larry Marshall.

Dunne, 54, joined the City Council in 2012 and is one of the longest-serving City Council members in Liberty Lake’s 22-year history. He’ll head into November as the heavy favorite after taking 72% of the vote during the August primary election.

Outside of City Hall, Dunne works as an enterprise collaboration engineer with Washington Trust Bank, a job he describes as part cultural anthropologist and part software developer. Before entering the banking industry, he was a mechanical engineer for a handful of companies, including KeyTronic, Kenworth Trucks and General Dynamics Itronix.

Marshall, 81, was a civil engineer and land surveyor before he retired. Aside from serving on a water and sewer board in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, he’s a newcomer to politics. Marshall has the endorsement of the Spokane County Grand Old Party.

Dunne said housing would be one of his top priorities if re-elected.

“The city continues to build and grow, and I want to make sure that the growth that we’re permitting is exactly what the community is intending,” he said. “We need to have a diversity of housing products – houses for young families at the same rate that we have luxury/retirement age.”

Marshall said he’d focus on public safety improvements if elected and is particularly supportive of the Liberty Lake Police Department adding more surveillance cameras in high-traffic areas of the city.

He also said he believes Liberty Lake should impose a one- or two-term limit on City Council members. Dunne said he’s open to the idea of imposing term limits.

The two candidates have different views on how the City Council should manage the Liberty Lake Municipal Library.

The Liberty Lake library has received considerable attention over the last year following an unsuccessful citizen-led effort to pull “Gender Queer” from the shelves.

“Gender Queer” has inspired censorship debates throughout the country since its publication in 2019. The graphic novel has won multiple awards, but detractors argue its discussions of gender and depictions of oral sex make it inappropriate for kids.

The library’s board of trustees and the City Council voted against banning “Gender Queer.” But the council then attempted to change city law to give itself more authority over the library board, which is made up of volunteers appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

A four-member majority of the City Council this spring voted to give the council final say over the library’s policies and book decisions. The legislation failed after Mayor Cris Kaminskas vetoed it.

City Councilman Chris Cargill has since vowed to reject all of the mayor’s library board appointees until the council has more library oversight. But he also said in an email that the debate is over.

“The issue ended with the mayor’s veto and there has been no discussion about bringing it back,” Cargill wrote.

Dunne said he believes the discussion could come back next year, depending on the results of the November City Council elections.

The incumbent said he’s running for re-election in large part because he doesn’t want the City Council to wrest authority from the library board. Library decisions should be left to librarians and board members well-versed in library issues, not politicians, Dunne said.

Marshall has a different perspective.

He said he simultaneously thinks the City Council should have more say over library policies and the mayor was right to veto the proposal. The veto was wise, Marshall said, because the City Council should reach a consensus before adopting a new library law.

Marshall said he’d like the library to put certain books, including “Gender Queer,” in a restricted area. Adults, or kids with their parents’ permission, could check out the books upon request, but they wouldn’t be left in the open for anyone to read.