Friday, September 4, 2009

Candidate forum recap

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Candidate Forum Recap
The Candidate Forum, hosted by MacIntosh Grange at the grange hall last night was a huge success, in spite the small percentage of registered voters attending. A number of Horizons' members attended.

The McIntosh Grange did a great job in organizing the event, and candidates were unanimous in thanking those who came. Moderator, Kevin Fricke was neutral and fair while seven candidates for council had a chance to give their personal statements and answer questions from the audience. Candidates are:

Council Position #1
Larry Van Every
Howard Brutschy
Stan Seehorn (did not attend Forum)

Council Position #2
Steve Meyers
Thomas Smith

Gary Wagner
Micki Harnois

Written questions from the floor were asked, with each candidate being allowed three minutes for their response. Several Horizons' members were among those submitting written questions.

A question regarding poverty in Rockford brought varied replies from those asked. Despite notable actives by citizens of Rockford and the surrounding area involved in the Horizons program for nearly a year, when asked if poverty exists in Rockford three of the candidates, Steve Myers, Larry Van Every and Thomas Smith, felt that poverty does not exist here.

Myers and Van Every claim poverty is only a "state of mind," and they voiced strong opinions that people remain in poverty by choice, rather than by working to lift themselves out of poverty.

Each pointed out that statistics generally are touted to serve a purpose, instead of being an accurate statement of affairs. Van Every said Rockford is a community of spirit and that poverty results when people "choose to be poor of spirit." Rockford provides the ability to be at peace with neighbors, he said, and "Crime will not come if there is no market." He appealed to every citizen to do his or her part to circumvent the market.

Mayor pro-tem Micki Harnois feels that elected leaders of the Town of Rockford must recognize that a sure sign of poverty is when decision makers do not acknowledge that a percentage of local citizens remain jobless, have low income, lack computer accessibility, have low self-esteem, and have no community facility or location to access resources that can help them improve their chances of joining the labor force that provides decent wages.

She also mentioned funding to continue the two debris-chipping days the town has provided since Spokane County's burn ban affected area residents.

A need for bus transportation to and from Spokane was acknowledged by most of the candidates. Partnering with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe to get Casino buses to stop, or with Idaho City Link buses, could be explored. Myers said he doesn't see any feasible outlook.

Maintaining the closeness of community residents and the spirit of cooperation among them is high priority for Thomas Smith, as it is for all of the candidates. Smith hopes to work on cleaning up neglected areas in the town. Myers told of efforts (so far unsuccessful) to accomplish that. He also praised St. John's success with senior retirement housing.

Responses to questions about Rockford's website were positive, and only one member felt business should pay to be listed. When asked if town ordinances can be on the website, replies were split. A couple members thought the ordinances are too numerous and space consuming. Van Every, who has a background in website design, said it would be a simple matter to link to them. Mayor Wagner said Town Council minutes couldn't be put on the website until after being approved. Brutschy admitted to being in violation of an ordinance.

Mayor Wagner, who said that during his terms as a public official over $5 million in grants have been utilized for improving the town's infrastructure, expressed the need to grow the population by having more houses. Candidate Howard Brutschy said the need wasn't for more housing, but certainly more job opportunities through attracting more businesses is desirable. He favors controlled growth, and is active on the Planning and Zoning board and the South East Spokane County Fair board.

In discussing crime and law enforcement and the financial constraints of county law enforcement, all believe community members will be best served by participating in S.C.O.P.E. and Neighborhood Block Watch efforts.

Council Position #1 is the only position open for voting in the primary election, as there are three candidates. The two candidates that receive the most votes will be included in the general election along with Council Position #2 and the Mayor position.

MacIntosh Grange members plan to hold another Candidate forum, October 19 th, 7 p.m. at the grange hall.

Posted by Mona Leeson Vanek at 10:07 AM 0 comments

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