Cheney Free Press -

West Plains legislative battles

THREE QUESTIONS - As in the past, the Cheney Free Press staff prepared three questions for all candidates to answer. Those questions are on issues specific to the West Plains to test candidates knowledge of local issues, and are presented in each story.

 

Last updated 10/25/2018 at 3:57pm



Holy, Lewis square off to see who will replace Baumgartner

BY PAUL DELANEY

Staff Reporter

With the resignation of incumbent 6th District Sen. Michael Baumgartner who is running for Spokane Country Treasurer, his seat is being contested by 6th District House member Jeff Holy and political newcomer Jessa Lewis. Holy s a 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent victory in the Aug. 7 primary.

Candidates’ statements are from their websites as follows:

Jeff Holy: Republican

Catholic schools, an enlistment in the U.S.Army, a career as a Spokane police officer, 28 years as an attorney and three terms in the House of Representatives have well prepared Jeff for the Senate. (From votejeffholy.com.)

Jessa Lewis: Democrat

I am a working mom who is tired of Eastern Washington being left behind. My personal motto is “a complaint is a commitment,” that once you’ve identified a problem that it becomes your responsibility to fix it. If in our democracy the government isn’t showing up for people like it should then it is up to us to stand up and make those changes. (From electjessalewis.com.)

1. What are the three most important issues residents on the West Plains face?

Holy

After water, some of the most pressing issues are managing growth, planning for traffic flow and planning for the coming development of the common West Plains areas between Cheney, Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Spokane International Airport.  Forty years ago, the greater Seattle area had the same rate of people moving to the area that we are currently experiencing and we need to plan, create the infrastructure and well manage the growth happening.  Amazon is just the beginning. We need to stay in front of the development.

Lewis

The three things I’ve been hearing the most on the doors from voters is healthcare reform; investment in infrastructure, such as roads, more schools, and fire prevention; and addressing water security concerns. 

2. The aquifer under the West Plains is much different than that under Spokane and in the Spokane Valley, thus different concerns. How do you solve the water issues faced by West Plains residents?

Holy

Water, in multiple capacities. Getting water, as in re-digging Cheney well No. 3. Cheney planning for separate delivery of potable water for home use and treated water for irrigation -- thus doubling the efficient use of the water available.  Getting rid of water, as in planning for drainage and wetland mitigation, allowing for development of much of the property with a rock base. Processing or providing clean water to Airway Heights at a cost similar to that paid before contamination was discovered. Dealing with getting, using and getting rid of water will require a multi-tiered public/private solution that West Plains partners have been attempting to craft.

Lewis

We currently don’t have water quality standards for perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, that has leaked into the aquifer from firefighting foams utilized by Fairchild. In addition to filtration systems for municipal and individual wells paid for by the Air Force and federal government we should be partnering with the Pacific NW National Laboratory from Hanford for testing groundwater clean up processes. Contaminated groundwater is a common issue for communities surrounding military installations. The particular geology in the West Plains is unique in its capacity to be a controlled experiment that could be used to inform efforts elsewhere. 

3. The West Plains is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing region in Spokane County. Lots of land, infrastructure and access. What is the best method of managing growth on the West Plains? As a follow up, what is the best growth mixture for the West Plains? (Residential/commercial/environmental)

Holy

By including all West Plains partners in the planning process. Spokane city and county came together to form the West Plains/Airport Public Development Authority. Cheney’s new mayor, Chris Grover, is reaching out to both Medical Lake and Airway Heights to work together as partners in planning.  Spokane International Airport administration is reaching out to coordinate development. With the planned development of SIA runway No. 3 over the next decade, the connection between communities will dramatically change. All entities have to work together to avoid the disjointed development that Seattle experienced 40 years ago. We intend to be prepared.

Lewis

It is crucial to get all of the stakeholders together and build a long-term strategy for managing our area’s growth to maximize opportunity and prosperity for all — without losing what makes this region special. At least once a day when knocking on doors in the West Plains, I speak to someone who is having to sell their home and move away because of increased property values and taxes on their fixed income.

Further information on Jeff Holy can be found by visiting: http://www.votejeffholy.com.

Further information on Jessa Lewis can be found by visiting: electjessalewis.com.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

Wilson, Graham vie for vacated 6th District House seat

By JOHN McCALLUM

Managing Editor

The race for the 6th District state House of Representative Position 2 pits a campaign-veteran against a political newcomer.

Dave Wilson has thrown his hat into the ring twice in bids challenging 5th Congressional District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Running as an independent, the Spokane-area resident since 1980 and founder of Interface College in 1982 — which he sold in 2011 — gathered a respectable 12.29 percent in 2014 and 15.25 percent in 2016 in the primaries, but failed to advance. In this year’s state House race, he is running as a Democrat.

Jenny Graham is a first-time candidate. She has been an area resident for over 20 years, which includes running a Les Schwab outlet with her husband and being a community activist for issues affecting children.

In the Aug. 7 primary, Wilson garnered 40.05 percent of the vote while Graham received 33.35 percent in the race for the seat vacated by Jeff Holy, who is running for 6th District state senator. Republican candidate John Ahern had 15.57 percent while Democrat Rion Ametu notched 11.02 percent.

1. What are the three most important issues residents on the West Plains face?

Wilson

Based upon numerous conversations with elected officials and voters in these areas, I believe the three most important issues are water, transportation, and housing. All of these issues will be exacerbated by coming substantial growth. In Airway Heights, the agreement with the City of Spokane solves the immediate issue of clean drinking water, while the city works out a settlement and/or arrangement with the federal government regarding the ground water contamination from Fairchild AFB, and the city builds new water treatment facilities. Both Cheney and Medical Lake have issues with water shortages in the summers as their respective wells are low from high usage.

With the coming of 1,500 new jobs at Amazon, and several hundred new USAF personnel with the new tanker planes, transportation and housing will become significant challenges. Traffic in and out of Airway Heights will be very problematic and require help from the state to resolve. State Highway 904 from I-90 to Cheney also needs to be improved and widened to four lanes. With a 2-3 percent vacancy rate in housing in Spokane County, the addition of 1800-2200 new employees and their families in the area will put a further strain on the housing market.

Graham

The West Plains top three issues are growth, water and public safety. The West Plains is growing at a rapid pace. During a tour, I saw first-hand many issues facing the West Plains. I’ve raised my family in the 6th District and watched the West Plains grow. Much of the tour was clarifying finer details of the issues. We drove around Fairchild AFB, housing areas, Eastern (State) Hospital, the new (Airway Heights) community center area, schools, public safety locations and more. Affordable housing, infrastructure and clean water were echoed at the thousands of doors I’ve visited in the West Plains. We need to get in front of Amazon growth.

Public Safety — Mayor (Kevin) Richey of Airway Heights shared with me Public Safety issues, needs and wants. It was helpful that I was fresh off of pulling a 6-hour ride along shift with the Sheriff’s Department. Crime in Medical Lake is of concern. I feel the best way to understand the issues is to roll my sleeves up and see what is happening up close, not just sitting on a committee.

2. The aquifer under the West Plains is much different than that under Spokane and in the Spokane Valley, thus different concerns. How do you solve the water issues faced by West Plains residents?

Graham

The Federal Government is involved in and helping to deal with water contamination issues from Fairchild and the airport in Airway Heights. Mayor Grover of Cheney, Representative Holy and I discussed clean water needs, failing pumps and a well # 3 re-drill. In addition, we covered rationing water concerns. It was impressive to learn about ideas for getting water and getting rid of it including recycling non-potable water.

Wilson

In Cheney, I will try to help get the funding to build out a “purple pipe” solution to use water from the city treatment plant for the irrigation of city parks and school district fields. In Airway Heights, I will continue to monitor the contaminated water issue while the city works out a settlement and/or arrangement with the federal government; and try to help the city get state funding to install a system of pipes from treatment plant (south of Highway 2) to the Airway Heights Correction Center (north of Highway 2) to use the treated water for irrigation purposes; City Manager Albert Tripp has told me that the return on investment for this project is three years. In Medical Lake, the inter-tie with the city of Spokane has largely solved its issues for now, but the city may need help in the future if any of its wells start to fail.

3. The West Plains is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing region in Spokane County. Lots of land, infrastructure and access. What is the best method of managing growth on the West Plains? As a follow up, what is the best growth mixture for the West Plains? (Residential/commercial/environmental)

Wilson

I believe it will be vital to ensure that important infrastructure development takes place ahead of growth whenever possible. This includes transportation/roads, utilities and water, housing, schools, parks, etc. It will be equally important to use an inclusive planning process and committee(s) so that all areas of the West Plains are represented, including the PDA, the county, the cities of Spokane, Airway Heights, Cheney and Medical Lake as well as representatives from the WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation), SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Commission), West Plains Chamber, The Kalispel and Spokane tribes and the rural areas of the West Plains. I do not have any expertise in city planning, so I do not have the knowledge to comment use mixture, however, proper planning is very important and should be done with great care.

Graham

Residential — Growth Management Act boundaries are an obstacle to building adequate affordable housing.

Commercial — water drainage issues create a need for wetland mitigation.

Environmental — railroad tracks are an issue for city growth providing emergency services.

Additional information can be found about the Wilson and Graham at their websites, http://www.ElectDaveWilson.com and http://www.votegraham.gop.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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