Incumbent Brandi Peetz has found herself in the crosshairs of two challengers in the upcoming Aug. 6 primary election.
Michelle Rasmussen, who is on the Planning Commission and the director for campus services at Eastern Washington University, says she will have a tighter rein on city finances.
Robert “Rocky” Samson, on the other hand, is the owner of Checker Auto Repair and describes himself as the “liberal-progressives’ worst nightmare” on Facebook. He also believes in a lean budget.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: 28 years in Spokane Valley
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I wish to continue making a positive impact in our community. I believe my background, city council experience and knowledge bring a fresh perspective that is representative of Spokane Valley.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council? In order to be impactful and engage our community, I want to make sure that we are transparent and open to public involvement. I think it is important for citizens to know that we are approachable and willing to educate what is going on in our community.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? We need to find a creative solution in order to fund our pavement management because our telephone tax funds are dwindling. Currently, we have a surplus of $4 million dollars from 2017, that I think we should use to fund this pavement deficit without having to raise any taxes.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? I am surprised at the amount of citizens that aren't familiar with what is going on in our community. This is one of the many reasons I have made it a priority to engage with the public and have been hosting coffee chats where citizens and city officials can come together to talk about issues.
What differences separate you from your opponents? Now that I have been on the City Council for almost two years, I have gained vast knowledge of city issues and budgetary needs. I have budgeting experience from being an office manager at Stahl Optical for the past three-and-a-half years and also as the elected vice president of student government at Spokane Community College where I was an integral part of the process for determining department budgets. As a former 9-1-1 operator and criminal justice/sociology degree recipient, I am able to bring a criminal justice background which is important as our public safety budget is 60 percent of our total expenditures. It is because I've been on the City Council for almost two years, I have developed many relationships that can help with putting Spokane Valley's needs first.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: Husband, two adult children – son/daughter; one grandson. Lived here since 1998.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? The city is doing well, but I want to keep it moving that way. We have many issues that will be coming our way as a city and I felt it was time to get involved at another level and offer my experience to the citizens. I worked for the city of Spokane Valley from 2008 to 2015 for the deputy/city manager. I developed and managed three department’s budgets and created the draft Six Year Business Plan into the working document that is still used today. Working with I.T., I established the city’s online customer service request and response program for interaction with the citizens. I was part of the team who created the city’s first Economic Development Ad Campaign. I have been a Planning Commissioner for the past three years, past chair. In my current employment with EWU and previous private sector management positions, I manage with a fiscally conservative approach keeping expenses below revenues generated and use resources in the most efficient manner for profitable outcomes. I am a member of the WSDOT TDM Technical Committee and Spokane Transportation Authority Citizen Advisory Committee. Additionally, my husband and I owned a construction and surround sound installation company for 25 years.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council?
My goals are to find sustainable revenues for road preservation by working with the citizens and getting their input; continue economic development leading to higher paying jobs to keep our graduating talent here and families intact; and, continue the “Bridging the Valley” transportation infrastructure to help with the movement of goods, services and people throughout the city. These goals align well with the direction the city is headed and I hope to use my budgeting skills to assist in moving these forward with the continuation of a lean government.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future?
The biggest issue facing the city is finding the resources to sustain our pavement preservation program. Putting one-time money from our surplus to supplement the program is not the answer. We are experiencing good revenues today from our sales taxes and real estate excise taxes but we have to remember that this kind of economy does not last forever. Currently, we have $3.9 million in surplus money that is not ear-marked to any particular project. If we continue to dip into this annually to supplement the pavement preservation program, as we have done, it won’t be long before it is gone and then we will still be faced with the same problem in finding sustainable funds for our roads. I don’t believe in kicking the can down the road. I believe in having those hard discussions with the citizens and asking them two questions: What kind of road conditions are you comfortable with and what are you willing to pay to keep them that way?
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? What I hear is not surprising at all. I hear over and over that their beloved city is growing and changing and although they don’t want to see it to grow they can’t blame people for wanting to move here being we have the best city around.
What differences separate you from your opponents? I have nearly 10 years of hands-on, city-related experience that no other current or past councilmember has had coming into an election. I was an employee of the city and now am a planning commissioner. Having this experience allows me to understand city business from a well-rounded perspective which is needed when reviewing council issues and making decisions that affect the citizens. I not only understand what lean, productive government is, I have the working experience behind what has kept our city lean and productive.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: I have lived in the Spokane Valley five years with my wife, taking care of my 72-year-old mother. I have an 8-year-old daughter.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? Brandi Peetz has not been a good candidate. She says she is conservative but she is more of a socialist.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council? I think, budget-wise, this can be improved upon. We need to bring in more businesses.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? The sidewalk project at Park Road and Mission Avenue. We need to figure this out, budget-wise.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Homelessness. The homeless are here, and we need to deal with it.
What differences separate you from your opponents? I’m a real conservative. We’ve got to get Brandi out.