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Meeting the candidates – virtually: Moses Lake City Council office seekers give perspectives at online forum

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | July 21, 2021 1:05 AM

MOSES LAKE — Candidates for Moses Lake City Council running in the Aug. 3 primary talked about the issues important to them during an online forum Monday evening sponsored by the Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Each candidate got four minutes to introduce themselves and talk about the issues. The forum also featured candidates for the Moses Lake School Board, which will be covered in a separate story.

Two council races are on the primary ballot, each with three candidates. The top two will advance to the November general election. Two other council races, with fewer than three candidates, only will appear on the November ballot.

Incumbent David Curnel is being challenged by Judy Madewell and Devin Deitrick for Position 5.

Curnel said he wanted to correct what he called misinformation about the process that led to the construction of the Love’s Travel Stop on Idaho Road, at exit 174 on Interstate 90. Under current city codes, council members had no choice but to approve the project, he said. Council members were not in favor of the project, but couldn’t stop it, he said.

Currently, city officials are working on an update to the city’s comprehensive plan. One of the motivations for the project is to ensure nothing like the Love’s Travel Stop case happens again, Curnel said.

Moses Lake is at a crossroads, Curnel said, transitioning from a big town to a small city. It’s facing challenges, including sufficient water for growth, adequate housing and improvements to its roads, he said. Experience matters in city government, especially now, he said.

Madewell said she’s running because she believes the city needs council members with new perspectives. As a council member, she would listen to people, she said, and she wants the council to be more forthcoming with residents.

Moses Lake faces some challenges, she said, including traffic improvements. City officials should start considering a second route across Moses Lake, she said. The city also needs more retail options. Water quality in the lake also is an important issue, she said.

Deitrick didn’t attend the forum.

Incumbent Karen Liebrecht faces two challengers, Dustin Swartz and Eric Salgado, for Position 2.

Liebrecht said the city is growing fast, and with that growth comes challenges. The lake is one of the city’s biggest assets and at the same time one of its biggest challenges, she said. Additional development along the lakeshore would bring even more challenges, so it’s important to plan carefully, she said. That’s also true when thinking about growth in general -- city officials should fill in undeveloped areas within the existing city before spreading out further, she said.

The city is in good financial condition, she said, and the council needs to be wise in its spending to ensure it stays that way.

Swartz, too, said the city is growing, and his background in construction would be an asset on the council. Growth can’t be, and shouldn’t be, stopped, he said -- without it the city dies. But the city should be proactive in managing it, he said.

He said he wants to increase the opportunities for affordable housing.

The council needs to have an attitude of customer service, he said, and to determine what the citizens want when making decisions.

Salgado said he was running for council because he wanted to use his gifts. He has ideas for how to help people in Moses Lake, but he has to act on those ideas, he said. He cited his work with the homeless as one way he’s been active in the community.

He changed his life, he said, and wants to bring his experiences to the council.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.