In the Tuesday, Nov. 5 election, Airway Heights voters will have the opportunity to choose their mayor for the next four years. Only one candidate filed to run for the next term: Patrick Rushing
Running unopposed, the incumbent Mayor Rushing can point out how the city of Airway Heights has grown over the last four years. With a track record to show new businesses and community involvement, Rushing had one goal in mind when he ran for office four years ago.
“I wanted to be the most effective mayor in the history of the city,” he said.
He’s served on the city council since 1999.
Among the priorities for Rushing in his current term was to retain a high standard of living in Airway Heights, which benefits other areas as well.
“We wanted to improve the lifestyles of the residents and the standards of living. You improve the standards of living, you improve the property value,” he said.
Recently, Rushing said he has worked toward setting up a youth commission in Airway Heights. It would involve students living in the city and allow them to provide valuable opinions as to what they’d like to see in order to make the city better.
“I think it’s really important to hear what our kids have to say and what they’re looking for,” he said. “I know we need to have a rec center, but what’s going to be in that rec center to bring kids in there?”
Rushing also said he met last week with Fairchild Air Force Base about setting up a P4 (Public, Private, People Partnership) area of businesses that would be mutually beneficial for the base and Airway Heights. Land along Highway 2 away from the runway could be used in such an effort. He said having shovel-ready projects would attract new businesses and, with the partnership in place, the city could help reduce costs for businesses moving in. Rushing cited Monterey, Calif. as an example of a successful P4 program, where the city continues to support its air base activities.
As far as improving the city is concerned, Rushing points to the recent annexation to the east of Airway Heights as beneficial growth. The city’s assessed valuation grew to $100 million with the annexed area, which includes Walmart, Village Centre Cinemas and other restaurants and businesses nearby.
Airway Heights also saw its wastewater treatment plant start operations last year, meaning the city used less potable water to irrigate. Rushing also said the city’s new reclaim water well is also up and running, which ultimately takes Airway Heights off the map in regards to its water impact on the West Plains.
The location of the wastewater treatment plant puts Airway Heights in a place to recharge other area aquifers, as water spreads throughout paleochannels.
“We won’t need to look for water until 2036,” Rushing said.
In terms of protecting Fairchild, Rushing said the city’s Joint Land Use Study zoning restrictions are up to date with the Department of Defense’s standards from last year. He also highlighted the ongoing effort to reduce the residential density in Accident Potential Zone Two, leading up to Fairchild’s runway.
Rushing said Proposition 1, also on the November ballot, would provide much-needed funds to rehabilitate city streets by creating a transportation benefit district.
Another item making waves in the news is the Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP), which seeks to build a mixed-use development on the north side of Highway 2. Critics say the casino, the only item of the project needing federal approval, and the height of the hotel tower would be hazardous to Fairchild’s flight training pattern.
Other operations at the proposed development include some retail and cultural sites. Rushing, a proponent of the project, said the tribe has adopted its own JLUS zoning regulations, and will follow the city’s zoning requirements as well.
“It doesn’t get built if it isn’t compatible,” he said.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.