Roads and Internet at the forefront of issues for Medical Lake City Council candidates
Candidates for Medical Lake City Council say they want to keep the city debt-free and focus on improving public services.
While one candidate pleaded for improved roads and parks, the other said the city should focus on expanding internet access.
Despite their different origins, incumbent Donald Kennedy and his opponent, Howard Griffith, agreed that wise spending was important for the city of 5,000.
Kennedy, who ran for the board in 2015 and 2017, became a board member in 2019 when he was appointed over the past two years to serve the unexpired term of another member. He said he wanted to continue to be a voice for fiscal conservatism.
Griffith, who works as an endpoint systems engineer at Eastern Washington University, said his campaign focused on bringing a non-titular voice to the board.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m a complete newbie in the political arena,” Griffith said. “It looked like city council had been there for a while, at least in Medical Lake, with the exception of one position. I wanted to contribute to my community in several different ways.
Griffith moved to Medical Lake two years ago, unlike Kennedy, who has resided there for 20 years.
“My main goal is for everything to be run responsibly and for there to be no crazy spending on things,” Kennedy said.
With his background in computer engineering, Griffith said he could help the board look at its decisions through an analytical lens. One of those issues, he said, includes the issue of wider internet access in Medical Lake.
“This is an area that is causing a lot of turmoil right now with people having very different levels of service or overall capabilities,” Griffith said.
Kennedy said he also recognizes the need to improve public works, especially beautifying local roads and parks.
“The roads need to be refreshed. We have roads that are not in good shape, ”Kennedy said. “We have a regular schedule for road maintenance and things like that, but I don’t think it covers all the streets that really need to be improved. “
The issues Medical Lake faces relate to its difficult location, Kennedy said. The city finds itself surrounded by land owned by the state and the federal government, making it difficult to build new residences or even attract new storefronts to Medical Lake, he said.
“We don’t get traffic flow. Airway Heights is crossed by a freeway, Cheney has college and tons of people go that way, ”Kennedy said. “I think other companies could work here – architects, surveyors, companies that don’t rely on foot traffic – someone has to come out and get them, and they have to see an incentive to come here.”
That incentive shouldn’t come from city council, said Kennedy, whose role is limited to ensuring a smooth licensing process for businesses.
Griffith said he wanted Medical Lake to retain its small town charm and look into the potential tourism of the town’s surrounding waters, namely nearby Medical, West Medical and Silver Lakes.
“We have, like, four lakes and other bodies of water in our immediate area, so I think they should go for people who want to get out and commune with nature because it’s all around us,” said Griffith said.
Whether Medical Lake adopts its own local police department also remains a key issue for the community. The mayoral race is characterized by the differing opinions of the candidates on the issue. Mayoral candidate Terri Cooper wants to bring law enforcement agency back to Medical Lake; Outgoing Mayor Shirley Maike said it was not financially feasible.
Griffith and Kennedy agreed in principle with Maike. Griffith said the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has provided good law enforcement services to the city. Kennedy said he knew from the time he sat on the council that the city could not pay for a local police force.
“I don’t know if it’s financially responsible to do this. It’s one of the things that I think we’ll have to see, ”Griffith said.