In what may have seen to some like a one-vehicle parade, Ben Wick drove a car festooned with campaign stickers to Tuesday night’s meeting of the Spokane Valley City Council. The adhesives were part of a successful run at the ballot earlier this year that saw the 29-year-old I.T. specialist earn a narrow win over Marilyn Cline for a seat on the governing board.
At the beginning of the agenda on Dec. 27, it became official.
Photo by Craig Howard
Wick was sworn in to replace Bill Gothmann – along with a pair of fellow winners from the general election, Dean Grafos and Arne Woodard – and will take his place around the dais at the next scheduled council meeting on Jan. 10. Wick and four other council members will attend a training conference sponsored by the Association of Washington Cities on Jan. 3.
“I’ll just be trying to absorb everything at first,” the Spokane Valley native said. “I’m looking forward to being part of the team.”
Cline, part of a “Positive Change” group that swept four candidates into office two years ago, emerged as the favorite after collecting nearly 41 percent of the vote in the August primary. Wick advanced to the general election ahead of two other candidates by earning 26 percent.
In November, Wick edged in front of Cline, eventually winning the council bid by the narrow margin of 50.89 to 49.11 percent, or a difference of only 374 votes.
On Tuesday, Positive Change Council Members like Dean Grafos said Wick would be greeted as an equal.
“I certainly welcome him to City Council,” Grafos said. “From the few conversations I’ve had with him, he’s a bright guy.”
Chuck Hafner, who chaired the Positive Change campaign back in 2009 and won appointment to the council earlier this year, presented Wick with a welcome card on Tuesday that expressed congratulations and made it clear that support would be provided.
“He’s going to be a part of what we’re doing here,” Hafner said. “If there’s anywhere I can help, I will.”
Also on Tuesday, Mayor Tom Towey announced that he was appointing Lewis R. Higgins and Steven Neill to the city Planning Commission. The two were picked among a field of a dozen candidates.
“We had 12 excellent applications,” Towey said. “I was very impressed with the quality of people. It was a tough decision.”
Neill, an incumbent, and Higgins, who ran for City Council on the August ballot, will serve unpaid, three-year terms.
In other council news:
- After postponing the vote to renew the street maintenance contract with Poe Construction, council approved a change order to ensure snow- plowing service would not be interrupted. Public Works Director Neil Kersten provided reports on the snow plowing policy, street maintenance and street sweeping on Tuesday night. Kersten noted that Poe’s service has been “excellent and cost effective.” Council also opted to delay the vote on renewing the street sweeping contract with AAA Sweeping until its next meeting on Jan. 10. Both street sweeping and street maintenance are included in seven-year contracts reviewed annually by the city.
- Resident Margaret Mortz addressed council on the topic of an accessible pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Sprague and Progress. Mortz spoke against the idea of removing the traffic signal at the juncture, a possibility that has been discussed since the departure of the Yoke’s grocery store. She said pedestrians, many of whom rely on public transportation, should be able to utilize a crossing that meets requirements in the American with Disability Act, including audible timing alerts and a safety median.