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The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Two newcomers seek soon-vacant Beckett LL post

10/18/2013

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

 

With Josh Beckett choosing not to run for another term, there will be at least one new face on the Liberty Lake City Council at the beginning of next year. The race will come down to financial strategist Hugh Severs and business owner Jeff Sitton.

Josh Severs
Age: 27

Family/How long living in Liberty Lake: Five years.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? I want a hand in helping our city grow and prosper. My wife and I chose Liberty Lake as our home and now love watching our two young boys grow in this wonderful setting. I believe the urban planning skills I developed while studying Landscape Architecture at WSU -- coupled with my experience running my financial services business -- ideally position me to help our community become even better. In short, I am excited about the opportunity to serve my community in a more direct manner.

What are your goals for the Liberty Lake City Council? It’s the concerted efforts of leaders -- with similar vision and values -- who can take Liberty Lake from where it is now to a place in the future where the city has planned well, been properly maintained, has made sound financial decisions, all with the wellbeing of its citizens, businesses, and families in mind. My goal for the Liberty Lake City Council is to be part of a team of individuals who communicate well with citizens and understand the perspectives of a wide variety of our community members (young families, retired people, new to the area, life-long residents, business owners, etc.) so as individuals on that team we can raise the right questions so to determine the best solution to the many issues that will get thrown at us moving forward.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? The challenge we will face as Liberty Lake continues to grow is planning for a growth surge in both our retired population and young, new families to the area. In particular, it is difficult for a city to allocate resources in an efficient manner while also ensuring the safety, well-being, and over-all satisfaction of all community members. For example, schools are going to be an issue (according to Ben Small, superintendant of Central Valley schools) -- so much so that in the near future it may require a more localized effort to help fund schools. If this issue comes up, should we allow resources allocated to schools to affect resources allocated to seniors? Should we think more strategically about how we can allocate resources for the benefit of all demographics? My point is not that these questions haven’t been asked in the past, but that it will be even more important moving forward so our city is both attracting new people, families and businesses to the area and taking care of our existing residents.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? The most surprising issue I have heard from citizens is their lack of understanding of the issues. Many people feel the city isn’t doing enough to communicate with them. A core group of people are very engaged and very well versed on issues, events, etc., but what I’ve heard from the general populous is that better communication would help them better understand all of the topics they hear floating around (i.e. the city center project, town square project, idea of a community pool or aquatic center) -- issues that will require a significant amount of resources just to study and plan for, and substantially more resources to implement if the decision is made. Many people have heard the concepts but don’t feel informed enough to side one way or the other. The surprise to me is that in today’s world, with the mass communication options out there via internet or other means, that there isn’t a better resource for citizens to stay slightly more in tune with what’s going on with their local government. There have been talks of a new Web site around recent council meetings, so hopefully with that upgrade we see better mass communication with our citizens.

Jeff Sitton
Age: 36 years old.

Family/How long living in Liberty Lake: I’m married with two children and have lived in Liberty Lake for three years. My parents have lived here 15 years. My brother, his family, and my grandparents live here, as well.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? I am running for City Council because I want to take a significant role in shaping Liberty Lake and its future. My experience in the business sector has given me skills that will positively contribute to the council including leadership, conflict resolution, empathy, and balance.
The future of Liberty Lake is the key driver for me. I want my children to live and be raised in a district that embraces its citizens by providing excellent education, access, safety, recreation, and sense of community.
I strive that my input, decisions, and strengths will be valuable in shaping Liberty Lake and that our city will continue to be an exceptional place to live and work.

What are your goals for the Liberty Lake City Council? I promise to be a productive and effective councilperson if elected. I will work to stifle problems caused by political nuances that hinder progress and create thoughtful decisions that will positively affect generations to come.
My background and personality is one of action and getting things done.  My goal is to support liberty lake’s successes, its people, schools and businesses in this community.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? I feel the number one issue for the council is how to handle the rapid pace of residential growth. Liberty Lake is a fantastic community; people are flocking to this area to live. The schools in our district are becoming overcrowded. Roads need improvement. Businesses need to be enticed to move and stay here. Public utilities need to support new residences.
This No. 1 issue raises many others as a result. My experience and leadership will help direct decisions that have longevity and forethought. It is my goal to maintain Liberty Lake’s high quality of life for citizens now and in the future.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? One of the surprising issues citizens have raised is the 3-percent utility tax that Liberty Lake has assessed. This tax roughly costs each family in the district, $100/year. Initially the tax was set up as a temporary fund for maintenance, but it has not been eliminated to date. There has been a lot of controversy on the subject of this tax and the funds. If elected, I believe the usage of the money should be clearly defined toward continuing maintaining and upgrading city utilities.

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