Growth emphasized in Cheney City Council races
Fred Pollard vs. Chris Grover
The race for Cheney City Council Position 1 pits first-term incumbent Fred Pollard against Cheney Planning Commissioner Chris Grover. Both are local businessmen and members of several community organizations.
1. Why run for office?
Pollard said he decided to run in 2009 after working with “historic downtown groups and seeing first hand the need for the city of Cheney to improve its economics, develop opportunities and work closer with EWU.” It took him a couple years to figure out his role on council, he said, and having done so sees issues he would like to continue to pursue.
Grover’s family moved to Cheney in the 1970s, and apart from time away at college and the Navy has lived here since. Part of his plan in obtaining a bachelor’s of psychology degree was to one day run for political office.
“I personally think Cheney has so much potential,” he said. “I want to be a part of that.”
2. What are three things you’d like to see accomplished if elected?
Grover sees economic development as a real opportunity for the city’s future success, and would like to see that better marketed and promoted. He “finally believes in” expanding SR 904 to five lanes as part of that formula.
Grover would like to continue to strengthen partnerships with Eastern Washington University and the school district. He would continue to work towards a vibrant downtown, something he said citizens want when they approved the city’s comprehensive plan, a document he emphasized adherence to as central to Cheney’s future.
Pollard wants the Cheney Industrial and Commerce Park “up and running” with viable businesses, medical device manufacturers as one possibility, as one of his priorities. He also would like to see more local business patronage from outside the city, and find a way for small businesses to hire youth under age 18 while remaining profitable.
“I’d like to keep our youth here in Cheney,” he said.
3. What are some challenges facing the city?
Pollard said the City Council’s number one priority is to set the budget. During times of excess revenue, cities can focus on “wants,” whereas in times of lean revenues they look to “needs.”
“When you say need and capitalize that you realize there are tough choices that have to be made,” he said. Pollard feels the city has made those tough choices and is in a good position to weather projected revenue drops in 2014.
Grover sees growth as a challenge as well as an opportunity. If the city’s business economy grows hand-in-hand with its population it’s sustainable, but if the population grows faster than business, it could create stress on maintaining service levels.
“And that costs money,” he said. “We need to promote Cheney as the place to have a business.”
4. What are some ways of increasing revenue?
Grover would like to see the city promoted more as a venue for regional sporting events, which would bring in outside revenue to hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Pollard said there has been talk of raising taxes or fees but that the city is “nowhere close” to this. He views Cheney’s current situation as a “window” in which to attract businesses, and would like to better highlight the reasons for coming to the city.
“They’re going to move in to our community because they value our lifestyle, our environment and our relationship with EWU,” he said.
5. Would you be in favor of a law enforcement tax to help fund public safety?
Both Pollard and Grover feel public safety is at a good level right now, although they also said they would be open to a tax option if the data supported it. Grover said the city has a solid relationship with the EWU Police Department and would first look at strengthening this further, while Pollard said a major public safety issue for him is the looming need to replace the Fire Department’s No. 1 fire engine, which is near the end of its service life.
6. Why vote for you?
“I’m accountable, responsible, committed to the community and transparent,” Pollard said.
“I want to do what’s right for the citizens,” Grover said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.