Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Woodard looks to fend off challengers

07/26/2019

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Arne Woodard has a trio looking to replace him in the upcoming primary election.

Lance Gurel
Age: 70

Family/How long living in Spokane Valley?
I have been married to my wife Kimma for 35 years. We have five children (two live in the Spokane area), 13 grandchildren, and three greatgrandchildren. I’ve lived in Spokane Valley for six years and in the Spokane area 16 years.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? I am running for Spokane Valley City Council to serve our community and to champion accountable, common-sense leadership. The challenges we face as a growing city require a person who can work with people from all walks of life to find common ground to solve our local issues, who is not controlled by special interests, and who has new ideas to bring to the city council.

What are your goals for the council? The Spokane Valley City Council should fully fund the Spokane Valley Police Department and fully support our contract with the Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Office, including funding for crisis response teams. The Spokane Valley City Council should proactively address the affordable housing and homelessness crises as a regional issue and work together with Spokane to find regional solutions.
The Spokane Valley City Council should show better stewardship with our city streets by developing a new fund formula to address more of our road preservation needs before they escalate.
The Spokane Valley City Council should buy for park land and invest some of its reserves in land for future city needs.
The City Council needs to manage growth in a way that avoids urban sprawl, protects neighborhoods, and advances our city plan for a high-density urban core centered around public transportation and existing infrastructure.

What is biggest issue facing the city? My priority is making Spokane Valley a safe place to live, work, play, worship, and go to school: a city that celebrates diversity and is safe and welcoming to all. For us to attract and retain good business in the 21st century, we must make Spokane Valley a good place for workers and families.

What surprising issues are folks bringing up at campaign stops or door-knocking? Most people I talk to understand the need for a change of leadership in the City Council. And most people I talk with are fairly well informed about local, council issues. They realize the council has passed up opportunities to buy park land and let developers grab up property instead. They don’t understand the waste and mismanagement they hear about from the City Council.

What are the differences between you and the other candidates? As an accountant, I am uniquely qualified to find common ground among people from all walks of life. I have worked with budgets. I am a natural fiscal conservative with an understanding of governmental accounting, grant making, and financial planning. My broad business and professional background will make me a good representative for Spokane Valley on the various boards and committees that councilmembers serve on.

Website: VoteLanceGurel.com

Albert Merkel
Age: 33

Family/How long living in Spokane Valley? My family has been here since 1997, aside from my time working overseas, I have lived here since that time.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? I am concerned about the future of our community. We are at a crossroads where poor decisions at the council level will lead our city to a crisis. I feel that my experience and expertise allow me to best serve our city in this role.

What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council?
1. Fix our city code to protect neighborhood integrity and use economic forces to make sure that growth is controlled and traffic and crime are kept low. This includes restoring greenspace requirements for developments.
2. Restructure the policing contract to allow the sheriff to better manage resources and reduce crime.
3. Introduce solutions to our growing homeless problem, leveraging funding to get better data collection in order to make better decisions on how to fix the problem.
4. Use council leadership to work with local business to grow our economy through establishment of BIDs and other business strengthening devices that attract the new economy.
5. Bring back transparency and resident interaction to our city council by uncapping comment time and funding more ways for citizens to interact on decision making.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? Neighborhood integrity and uncontrolled growth. If we continue to allow our community to grow unpredictably and make taxpayers responsible for the costs of growth, we will lose the family friendly feel our city has, drown in crime and traffic, overburden our schools, and struggle for years to come against the ebbs and flows of the economy. We need to work now to fix our city code to make those demanding growth pay for it, and protect low taxes and the community feel we all expect from our city.

 

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? The current council majority's lack of transparency and political agenda making scares residents and reduces confidence in our city. This needs to be addressed.

What differences separate you from your opponents? The incumbent supports unplanned growth, including making city taxes pay for the costs of expansion instead of those causing those costs, this includes removing greenspace requirements. He also supports limiting public comment and interaction, and generally maintaining the lack of transparency our council has had. My other opponents have limited experience with the city and with city governance issues.
I am the only candidate in my race strongly supporting keeping our neighborhoods intact, and making sure our city grows in a predictable way. I am also the only candidate with detailed plans on how to achieve my goals that can be accessed on my website or commented about on next door.

Website? alforval.com

Adam Smith
Age: 30

Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: 29 years

Why did you want to file for candidacy? To get better representation of our community as part of our leadership and to bridge the generation gap with positive communication and learning opportunities.

What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council? Create a more inviting atmosphere for our community to interact with the council. Inspire and work with youth to get active within the community and communicate with our older generations positively.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? The current council does not connect well with the community; there are more personal agendas than there are community backed issues being solved.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Not a comfortable place in the council meetings. Animosity between council members.

What differences separate you from your opponents? I have the most diverse background and grew up on the streets of the valley. I have been a firefighter/ EMT for many years and have a great understanding of how to help people on a real level. I am someone who has worked backbreaking physical labor jobs for years and understand what it’s like to work hard and struggle in life. I am now a successful business owner that helps people change their life on a daily basis and on that journey I had a lot of experiences that have given me the confidence to make educated decisions.

Website? SpokaneValleyBJJ.com

Arne Woodard
Age: 66

Why did you choose to file for reelection? I would like to complete several major projects that are in the  process (parks, at-grade rail crossings, the Appleway Trail). I still have the passion for the Valley and want to continue to make it the best place in the state.

What are the goals for your next term? To complete the above major projects and to continue to help our local businesses thrive and expand. If outside companies decide to move here, then great. Also we need to solve the road-preservation funding challenge in order that our streets don’t end up like Spokane.

What’s the biggest issue facing the city? The courage to find a solution to funding our road preservation. We also have to grapple with the homeless issue so as not to end up with a situation like Second and Third and Division downtown. Continuing to keep a lid on our budget and knowning when additional personnel are needed to continue our growth and saety.

What surprising issues are people bringing up when you appear at events or doorknock? Some are still thinking that what happened to them 20 or 30 years ago is not what will probably happen to them if they are  seeking the same things as today. Permitting,  taxing, public safety,  roads, etc… All are different than the last time they access their government body. Some are still having a problem with us being a city.

What’s the main difference between yourself and your opponents? My experience, research and understanding of the processes, and institutional and life knowledge vs. their lack of understanding the tightness of budgets that have p assed and been implemented. Their thinking that by stopping growth you can go back in time. Their thinking is more government is the answer to all the problems in life. Their thinking that one-time windfall monies should be spent on long-germ ongoing items (say, road p reservation) is a sustainable plane. It is not. Their lack of courage to tackle the really difficult decisions, that you can continue to kick the long-term problems further down the road without creating even bigger problems later.

 
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