Facing voters: Moses Lake candidates speak out in online forum

MOSES LAKE – Candidates for Moses Lake City Council, Moses Lake School Board, Hospital District 1 and the Moses Lake Harbor Overseeing Commission discussed in an online forum on Monday to properly manage local growth and resume a some degree of local control over Olympia.

“We, as a city, need to support our local employees,” said Karen Liebrecht, outgoing Moses Lake City Council member, in response to a question about police and firefighters losing their jobs because they refuse to go. get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all state employees, teachers and healthcare workers to get vaccinated by October 18 or lose their jobs.

“It is important to challenge the mandate of the vaccine,” Liebrecht added, echoing the sentiments expressed by most of the other council candidates.

“A gunshot wound is much more serious for most of our population than COVID,” said Dustin Swartz, who challenges Liebrecht.

The nearly two-hour forum, hosted by the Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, included Liebrecht and Swartz, both vying for position 2 of the Moses Lake Council; outgoing city council member Mike Riggs and challenger Deanna Martinez for council position 1; outgoing city council member David Curnel and challenger Judy Madewell for council position 5; and Mark Fancher, who is running for Darryl Jackson, Council position 4. Jackson has decided not to run.

Fancher is challenged by Plasido Lindsey, Jr., who did not attend the forum.

Candidates each had two minutes to introduce themselves and two minutes to answer questions, and were not allowed to debate among themselves.

All of the nominees agreed that the growth of Moses Lake is both a good thing and a challenge that must be managed well to preserve the city’s “small town” flavor while securing a future for those who want to stay here.

“I want my grandchildren and your grandchildren to have a great future in Moses Lake,” Curnel said.

Responding to a question about priorities for future development, Fancher said it was important for the city to encourage both small local businesses and large national chain stores, a sentiment shared by other candidates.

“We need both,” Martinez said. “Things only work together when you have both. It only helps us meet the needs of our community.

When asked how to deal with the homeless and beggars in the city center, Curnel said court rulings have tied the hands of the police, but if the city can come up with a solution that allows the homeless to get out. from the streets, the problem of begging will “disappear on its own.”

“Legally, we can’t do anything,” he said.

Madewell, who spoke from a sometimes difficult internet connection, said she always tries to talk to homeless people, as part of an “get involved and care about people” approach that ‘she considers important.

“We have to be involved and see everyone as valued,” she said.

Moses Lake School Board candidates Vickey Melcher, along with challenger Paul Hill, and Moses Lake Police Chief Kevin Fuhr and Rachel Roylance Gallacci, both candidates for the seat currently held by incumbent Elliott Goodrich, were making also part of the candidates’ forum.

Fuhr said that while voters can hear a lot about “critical race theory” and sex education, the two biggest issues facing the Moses Lake School District are the $ 7 million levy. over three years, which failed in August and is on the ballot again in November. , and the hiring of a new superintendent following Josh Meek’s departure in late August, after the board investigated him for abusing the district’s credit card and giving himself benefits without the board approval.

“Passing the tax is critical and we will lose $ 14 million in funding,” Fuhr said. “It will have a major impact. “

If the levy fails again, the district would lose not only $ 7 million in local tax revenue to fund school operations, but an additional $ 7 million in state matching funds.

However, Fuhr – along with other school board candidates – said the MLSD needed to communicate better and be more transparent with parents and voters to regain their trust.

Hill suggested creating a citizens’ advisory group that would include parents and teachers to promote communication and transparency, while Fuhr said board members should come out and not only speak to the public, but also listen. .

Gallacci said if elected, she would rely heavily on a network of moms she has developed over the past few years to involve more people in overseeing MLSD operations.

“When there are more eyes, it’s harder to hide,” she said.

In response to a question about performance-based bonuses for senior executives, Melcher said she understands Meek has met most of her contract goals and is open to reconsidering performance-based pay.

“We thought it was a good idea then, but I’m not sure now,” she said.

The nominee forum also included the two nominees for the Moses Lake Harbor Commission – officially Grant County Harbor District 10 – incumbent David “Kent” Jones and challenger Kris Dexter, who currently sits on the Board of Directors of Grant County. Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District. . The two candidates discussed the railway construction project and the expansion of the availability of the port’s free zone.

Finally, the forum also included candidates vying for a seat at Grant County Public Hospital District 1, which oversees Samaritan Hospital, incumbent Susan Carbon and challenger Brian McGowan.

The two candidates discussed funding for the construction of the proposed new hospital and how to hire and retain qualified medical specialists in Moses Lake.

Charles H. Featherstone can be contacted at [email protected]

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