Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA

Wick challenged by Wood for Pos. 3

Managing Editor




After his first four years on the Spokane Valley City Council, Ben Wick – who first took interest in politics as a teenager – is ready for another go-around.
However, to do that, he will have to get past the more-conservative Sam Wood, who serves on the city’s Planning Commission.

Ben Wick
Age: 33

Family/How long living in Spokane Valley:

I was born and raised in Spokane Valley, but the history of my family goes back much longer than that. My family was actually one of the first families in the area, arriving before the state was formed, putting us on the Washington State Pioneers list. My great-grandfather had a dairy farm where Sprague and Interstate 90 is now that he lost during the Great Depression. My grandfather helped to build our community, by starting Spokane Recycling, building homes/developing Wick Street, and partnering to start the Inland Northwest Bank. My father chose to support our community by serving on the East Valley school board for most of my time at East Valley. So my roots run deep in our community. I am happily married to my wife Danica and we have two young girls named Sabriel (who is 3 years old) and Hermione (who is 1).

Why did you want to file for candidacy?
I filed to run for re-election because my passion for the city of Spokane Valley just won’t quit. I still have more ideas on what we can do to help make it better and preserve the fundamentals that make this great city the place we call home. I have gotten very involved with transportation and really enjoy working to advance projects on behalf of our city. For instance, every dollar that we spend on street preservation before a road falls apart save us approximately $8 by not having to rebuild it, but we haven’t been able to dedicate enough funding to preserve all of our streets. Also over the last few years Bridging the Valley, the rail crossing project that was going to create over and underpasses along the Burlington Northern main line at each of the major intersections and then move the Union Pacific main line into the Burlington Northern corridor, had all but died. After joining the transportation committees this project is coming back to life and we have made this a priority for our City. I would greatly appreciate another term to continue the work I have started.

What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council?
My biggest goals for the City of Spokane Valley are:

1) Public Safety. Without being a safe place to live or have your business we have nothing. I am a large supporter of public safety and I will continue to support the contract with the Sheriff for police services. This last year we found a way to increase efficiencies and add two new police officers to establish a “Power Shift” putting a new shift of officers during the time of day that typically has the largest amount of calls or need for service. This shift is already seeing great results in improved service for the citizens of Spokane Valley.

2) Street Maintenance/Preservation. We have a real opportunity to keep our City pothole free. As I mentioned, every $1 that we spend now preserving a street before it deteriorates to far will save Spokane Valley almost $8 in the future.

3) Maintain being a contract city. The city of Spokane Valley is a very efficient city and doesn’t duplicate services that are able to be provided by others within the community. As a result the city of Spokane Valley only has 87.4 total employees for our 93,000-plus citizens whereas Spokane has over 1,000 employees for their 213,000 citizens. This allows us to keep focused on our priorities and flexibility to adjust our spending with the economy without having to lay off employees. We need to maintain this philosophy.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future?

Prioritizing the use of city funds is the most urgent. Being a contract city we have a very stable city budget that is providing us with the opportunity and benefits of having extra money not spent throughout the year. These funds should be prioritized to be invested back into our city to either reduce future expenditures (like street preservation) or increase future revenues by expanding our tax base (i.e. providing necessary infrastructure and making our city more business friendly). We need to invest in these first, before adding new reoccurring expenses to our city budget. We have a unique opportunity that most cities don’t have. What we do today will define how we can operate for years to come.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?
I am hearing a lot of questions about upcoming development/housing development and the density of potential housing developments. While these are one of the hardest decisions we deal with on City Council, we have to find a balance. There is demand for apartment complexes and higher density housing as well as protecting our lower density neighborhood characteristics. We became a city to control our own destiny. Just because we became a city doesn’t mean we have to live on top of each other. We need to find a place for the higher density developments while protecting our neighborhoods, we have a need for both.

What differences separate you from your opponent?
I bring a different perspective. The average age of our city council is over 60 and most of them aren’t employed by someone else. We understand better the things we experience. I bring a younger more energetic voice that understands what it is like to work and raise a family in the current economy. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Eastern Washington University, where I graduated summa cum laude. Currently I work full time as an IT manager for Spokane Industries, a locally owned metal casting and manufacturing company. I know how to utilize technology and how to focus on efficiencies. I have lived here my whole life, and I am dedicated to making the city of Spokane Valley a city full of opportunity. Where future generations can grow and play while businesses flourish and prosper.

Web site?

Sam Wood
Age: 68

Family/How long living in Spokane Valley:
I have lived in the Spokane Valley since it was formed and have lived in the Spokane Area for 68 years.
Why did you want to file for candidacy?
I was asked by Arne Woodard, Rod Higgins and Ed Pace, all current city council members. They were concerned that the person I am running against is for more taxes and more government and they do not want the city to go in that direction and nor do I. I have been serving on the Spokane Valley Planning Commission and as the Chairman of the Board for the Carnhope Water District. I am self-employed and prepared to devote as much time that is necessary to be an effective city councilman.

What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council?
Keep city government efficient and accountable to the people. I have a motto: “take care the nickels and dimes and the dollars will take care of themselves.” I learned this in the 27 years I spend in the restaurant business, and I will bring that same mentality to city government.

Keep our roads and parks well maintained and safe. The people want the Spokane Valley to be a great place to work, live and play.
Public safety needs to be the best it can be for the money we spend. Look at our contracts with Spokane County and be sure the Citizens of the Spokane Valley are getting the best service they deserve for the hard earned money they are spending. That goes for all contracts that the city has. Be tough negotiators.

Be proactive about our relationship with small businesses. This community makes up over 80% of businesses in the valley. They do most of the hiring and we on the city council need to be sure that we are not creating regulations that hinder their success. Their success will also make the Spokane Valley successful. Do line-by-line evaluation of the regulations and ordinances that have been imposed and mandated by prior city councils and staff and simplify or eliminate those that are not necessary to maintain public health and safety.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future?
The city is in the middle of the comprehensive plan update. The impact of this updated will affect our property rights and property values for years to come. It is important that we get this right. I have been a real estate appraiser for the last 19 years, and I own and operate Sound Appraisal Management and Wood and Wood Realty. I see every day the impact that zoning and land use regulations have on property values and uses.  These are real life experience and not just book knowledge and I will bring that experience to the City Council.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?
Many people express their desire to see road funds used for road projects and not other road-related side projects.
Stop raising our taxes. Enough is enough.
Get rid of over-regulation.
Make our parks better.
Do we really need a new city hall?
How can we keep our kids from leaving the Valley?
We don’t want to be like Seattle and Portland. We are the Spokane Valley with a friendly hometown feel.

What differences separate you from your opponent?
Taxes, more government and ceding local government authority to regional agencies.
My opponent is for all these things and I am not.
He lobbied our state and federal representatives to vote for the state gas tax.
He likes regionalism, and I like local control. The best government is the government closest to the people. The state and federal governments have enough say over our policies and I would like to see that control reduced.
In closing I would like to add that the people want the Spokane Valley to be a great place to come home to and a great place to live, work and play and a place they can be proud of. As a City Council member it is my desire to help the folks get that kind of a place.

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Cell: 509-230-3355
Office: 509-924-2440
e-mail: vnh@onemain.com
TheSpokane Valley News Herald
is the City of Spokane Valley, Washington's official Newspaper. The City Council of the City of Spokane Valley, Washington named the Spokane Valley News Herald as the city's "official" newspaper. The designation means the Spokane Valley News Herald will publish the city's legal notices on a contract basis for one year.

E-mail: vnh@onemain.com
Phone: (509) 924-2440
2012 Valley News Articles Archive