Pin It
Favorite

Crowded Field 

Candidates flood the ballot for CdA City Council.

click to enlarge The McEuen project would renovate the green space at the foot of Tubbs Hill, near the top of the picture
  • The McEuen project would renovate the green space at the foot of Tubbs Hill, near the top of the picture

Ten candidates are jostling for three seats on the Coeur d’Alene City Council, but one issue has come to dominate all of the races: the future of McEuen Field.

In May, the city approved a plan for the large waterfront park at the base of Tubbs Hill that would add a multi-level parking garage, a plaza, a promenade, a play area and a sledding area, and would remove the existing boat launch and ball fields. Opponents have collected 1,700 signatures from people against the plan.

The current City Council voted 5-1 in favor of the plan, giving challengers plenty of fodder.

One Council seat is sure to change. Councilman Al Hassell isn’t running for re-election, and five candidates are vying for the job. State Rep. George Sayler and author Dan Gookin have the most name recognition and face off against Patrick “Mitch” Mitchell, gas-station cashier Annastasia Somontes and former Army Specialist Derec Aujay.

A rundown of their views: Sayler says he supports the McEuen Field renovation and is opposed to holding a public vote on the issue but that he would have seconded a motion to discuss a public vote.* Aujay argues that the city doesn’t have the money for the McEuen overhaul. Somontes says that voices of low-income workers like hers aren’t represented on the Council, and the hefty price tag for the field project is proof of that. (Mitchell did not return phone calls.)

“Apparently, the mayor thinks she’s elected queen, when I think it’s more like she was elected house-sitter,” Somontes says. “You don’t let the house-sitter tear up your backyard when you’re on vacation.”

Gookin, who nearly won a seat on the Council in 2009, says the McEuen plan strays from the original intent of its eponymous donor, Mae McEuen. “She was very into youth sports,” Gookin says. “Pulling out the ball field would be counter to that.”

Gookin is a board member of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, a partisan group advocating more freedom and fewer taxes that’s been causing a stir by attempting to influence nonpartisan races in Coeur d’Alene.

City Councilman John Bruning is facing three opponents. Bruning, the head of the McEuen steering committee, defends removing the boat launch and says he thinks the public is split evenly on the question.

“These are supposed to be nonpartisan races,” Bruning says. “They are becoming partisan, because of the Reagan Republicans.”

Steve Adams, a Reagan Republican running against him, criticizes the Lake City Development Corporation, the urban renewal group that partnered with the city to develop the McEuen plan.

“It’s a scourge on the taxpayer. It subverts the will of the people by circumventing the Constitution,” Adams says. “[They’re a] board of unelected individuals, managing a large amount of taxpayers without their input. It’s taxation without representation.”

The third candidate, North Idaho College student Amber Copeland, says there should have been an advisory vote, but now it’s a moot point. She focuses on bringing economically stimulating events, like Battles of the Bands, to Coeur d’Alene.

In the third contest, nobody’s a strong supporter of renovating McEuen. Ron Edinger — first elected to the Council in 1968 — was the lone vote against the plan.

“I think in the long run, it’s going to be a big expense to the city,” Edinger says. “I don’t believe the Council has fully listened to all the people as they had the hearings.”

His opponent, marketing firm founder Adam Graves, argues that the media has overblown the McEuen issue. As Baby Boomers age, he says, Coeur d’Alene needs to create an innovative economy to attract young talent.

No matter what happens, supporters of the new McEuen Field design will remain in power, however slimly. While three seats are up for grabs, the other three sitting Council members still back the plan. And Mayor Sandi Bloem, the tiebreaker, continues to support it.

Bloem, however, asks voters to consider other topics — development, affordable housing, infrastructure — when voting.

“I think it’s important to look at the whole,” Bloem says. “I hope people won’t go to the polls because of one issue.”

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified George Sayler's views on holding a public vote on the McEuen Field renovation.

  • Pin It

Speaking of...

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Blacktop BBQ & Beer Garden

Blacktop BBQ & Beer Garden @ Steam Plant Square

Sat., July 23, 5-10 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Daniel Walters

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Television | <i>UnREAL</i>
  • Television | UnREAL

    Deliciously self-aware hypocrisy that you'll want to watch
    • Jul 14, 2016
  • 'Paramount Duty'
  • 'Paramount Duty'

    Trail Mix: Supreme statements
    • Jul 14, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Desperate Measures
  • Desperate Measures

    How was a suicidal inmate able to kill himself inside the Spokane County Jail?
    • May 27, 2015
  • A Senseless Death
  • A Senseless Death

    Family and friends search for answers in the wake of an unsolved South Hill killing
    • Dec 3, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation