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Post Falls candidates take the hot seat

Staff Writer | September 28, 2021 1:09 AM

Voters are facing three contested Post Falls City Council races featuring nine candidates.

On Monday, the Post Falls Chamber aired a recording of the five candidates who sat down to share their takes on hot-topic issues.

Each candidate had the opportunity to answer questions generated by chamber members that focused on:

Issues affecting Post Falls today and in the future

Urban renewal districts

Impact fees

Land annexation

COVID-19 response

Political divisiveness

Two candidates are running for City Council Seat 2, Josh Walker and incumbent Alan Wolfe. Chamber President/CEO Christina Petit said Walker could not attend the forum due to work conflict.

Wolfe was first elected to City Council Seat 2 in 2014 after serving on the Post Falls Planning and Zoning Commission for seven years.

The most crucial role as a councilman, Wolfe said, is listening to all constituents — not "one group of people."

"I like to hear from a lot of different people to hear what they have to say on a particular subject and not be locked into any one agenda or set of ideals," Wolfe said. "I was elected to everyone, not just a select few."

Though the present housing crisis is critical, Wolfe said the more significant issue in Post Falls is "misinformation." The councilman said it's vital the community and elected officials don't listen to "just one side of the argument" but to multiple viewpoints.

"What makes me effective in my job is I always listen to both sides," Wolfe said. "My solution … is to continue working with all sides of the issue and stay engaged with the community."

Of the three candidates running for City Council Seat 4, Bob Flowers and incumbent Steve Anthony participated in the forum.

A self-described "permanent thorn in the City Council's side" for the last 10 years, Flowers said he has consistently questioned the officials' "why" and "what for" about their decision-making.

"The role of a City Council member, as far as I'm concerned, is to represent the citizens of Post Falls and their wishes," Flowers said.

Flowers said urban sprawl and impacts of growth on the community have "gotten out of control." While Flowers said he "believes in growth," he felt the City Council had not made the right decisions to mitigate problems with traffic, housing, public safety and the cost of infrastructure.

"Right now, we're on a crash course," Flowers said. "We need to slow things down and listen."

Ending his first term as a city councilman, Anthony has spent over 40 years working with city governments.

On Monday night, the councilman highlighted his actions as a "fiscally conservative leader" through his support of increasing impact fees and opposing property tax increases.

"The current impact fee that we had prior to the summer was, I believe, too low for developers," Anthony said. "With the council this year, after the impact fee study and taking public input, we almost doubled down on impact fees for developers that went into effect July 1."

Anthony said impact fees go to parks development, public safety, transportation, streets, bike and walking trails.

Anthony said voters should re-elect him because of his experience and commitment to constituents.

"My passion is to protect and preserve our quality of life in the city of Post Falls with a focus on sound public policy that is in the best interest of citizens," Anthony said. "When I was selected for the council nearly four years ago, I made a commitment to be dedicated to the citizens who elected me."

City Council Seat 6 is the most contested, with four candidates in the running. Two, Kenny Shove and incumbent Linda Wilhelm, participated in the chamber forum broadcast Monday night.

Shove is a North Idaho native who recently spent several years in customer care for a state representative in the 2019 Texas legislative session. In that capacity and through his involvement with other local organizations, Shove said he gained a greater understanding of people and the issues that impact everyone.

"As a resident of Post Falls, I felt a need to step up," Shove said. "I stepped up because I saw the need for it."

A born-and-raised Post Falls resident, Wilhelm has spent the last 14 years serving as a city councilwoman.

"I chose to run for City Council Seat 6, where I've been serving for 14 years, because I feel like I am the best qualified for the position," Wilhelm said. "I have the experience and passion for continuing to do an excellent job for the citizens of my hometown."

Wilhelm said issues impacting the community today are traffic, growth and "people's attitudes." Touching on a question about "divisiveness" within the community, Wilhelm advocated for togetherness.

"There are so many smart, talented people in Post Falls. If we can meet in smaller groups, get ideas going together and bring those ideas to the city, then maybe we can start making a difference," Wilhelm said. "I'm hopeful that we can reach a happy medium in Post Falls, and I'm hopeful that it will come through conversation and not altercation."

Like Wilhelm, Shove said some topics shouldn't be divisive. To avoid that tension, Shove advocated for higher citizen involvement in government actions.

"We can invite them to come to see what happens in meetings and see how they're addressed. Not only 'We made this decision' but having the citizens have a voice and understand what goes into a decision," Shove said. "I think that's really important."

Recordings of the forum will be available online at the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce website.

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