Thursday, July 28, 2016

Spokane Valley City Council is finally whole again

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 11:50 AM

It's been three months since all the seats on Spokane Valley City Council were occupied. 

First, Dean Grafos resigned. He had deep frustrations with the four-person council majority, who he called "so driven by their ideology that it's like talking to a brick wall." Shortly after, Chuck Hafner resigned, citing similar frustration. Then, Bill Bates resigned due to health issues, and Bill Gothmann's time filling in for him expired. 

But after choosing two replacements weeks ago, Spokane Valley finally has a full council again after appointing Michael Munch to fill the seat on Tuesday.

Munch is the president of Able Construction. He was treasurer of Stevens County Republican Party from 2012 until 2014. He says he's from the area, but has only been a resident of the Valley for a year and a half.

He threw his name in the hat for the City Council position because he feels its "part of our duty" as citizens to serve for local government "when and if we're able to." For Munch, that time is now, when he'll soon no longer have to work out of town as much. 

As for his goals while serving on council, he says he wants to "continue to make government more friendly towards businesses and the citizens." He says funding needed road maintenance without raising taxes will be one of the first challenges the council will face. 

A major reason former councilmembers Grafos and Hafner resigned had to do with the council majority's decision to fire city manager Mike Jackson in February, a decision never fully explained by the council majority. Grafos and Hafner called for an investigation into how that decision was made, believing Mayor Rod Higgins, Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard and councilmembers Ed Pace and Sam Wood broke open-meetings laws in discussing the move without other councilmembers. But the majority members failed to vote for an investigation of themselves. 

Pam Haley and Caleb Collier, the two councilmembers chosen to replace Grafos and Hafner, said they would need more information before looking into the matter. Munch says the same thing, but adds that his biggest concern is where the $411,000 severance package for Jackson is coming from in the city's funds. 

Munch listed Republican state Rep. Matt Shea as a reference on his application. He says he has helped with campaigns to elect Shea. 

"I like his direction as a representative. I think he represents us well," Munch says. "I have a lit of similar viewpoints (as Shea)." 

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Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.