For Coeur d’Alene residents, Tuesday’s election is more than three choices between seven passionate candidates. It’s a referendum on the State of the City by the Lake.
All seven candidates deserve hearty commendations. They all have shown, through forums, newspaper interviews and other interactions, a sincere desire to serve. For that, every Coeur d’Alene voter should be grateful.
In each of the three races, however, there are distinct choices. Some have cast the contests as outsiders vs. insiders, and that’s probably not far off the mark. Christie Wood, Dan Gookin and Dan English are all respected public officials who have served in both elected and non-elected positions at multiple community levels. If that makes them insiders, so be it. Votes for those three will, essentially, support the path Coeur d’Alene has recently taken and the direction it is headed as it faces the challenges of growth.
The four others all clearly have the community’s best interests at heart. With the exception of Michael Pereira, who has for years been involved in community events and endeavors, the challengers lack experience in governance. Some voters will see that outsider status as an attribute, not a deficiency, fresh eyes and ideas for civic benefit.
In the view of this newspaper’s editorial board, Coeur d’Alene is one of the most desirable places in America to live, work and play. Current leadership of the city has played no small part in keeping that bar set high, and a significant change of direction seems not only unwarranted, but unwise. The editorial board also believes strongly that experience matters. Regardless of how pure a candidate’s heart might be to serve, more than that is needed to oversee 320 employees and a budget of $100 million.
That’s why The Press endorses Christie Wood for Seat 1. Wood’s record of service to Coeur d’Alene and the broader community is perhaps unparalleled. From Coeur d’Alene school board to North Idaho College trustee, from her service in the Air Force and Coeur d’Alene Police Department to her leadership in the human rights arena, Wood is poised to step right in where retiring council member Ron Edinger is leaving off, with little or no learning curve.
It’s also why The Press endorses Dan English for Seat 5 over challengers we’ve grown to admire. Lacey Moen and Tom Morgan offer younger, fresh approaches to problem-solving and goal-setting, and there’s something to be said for the vibrancy Moen would bring to the table. But English, the longtime Kootenai County clerk and incumbent City Council member, is an adept listener with an extensive record of public service. He’s overseen big budgets and managed public employees. The chemistry of the current council is effective, and English plays a significant role in that.
Finally, Seat 3. For voters seeking a bright new voice among leadership without threatening the overall direction of Council, Michael Pereira offers an intriguing option. While the incumbent, Dan Gookin, is sometimes a magnet for criticism, there’s also a compelling case for every council having at least one member who questions darn near everything. In Coeur d’Alene, that’s Dan Gookin.
No matter your preferences for Coeur d’Alene City Council or the other municipal races across Kootenai County, please do some research and then be sure to vote on Tuesday. Voting is not just a sacred right; it’s your civic duty. Be informed and then vote.