(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
There is no “off” year anymore as 2019 races will feature many key positions in local government…
When it comes to election years anymore, every year now seems to have impact on several different levels of government. While the 2019 election only has local positions like city council or school board, with how active southern Stevens County has been lately, its no surprise to see an increase in political activity.
The Chewelah City Council has four seats open for this election, with Evan Schalock running unopposed for the council No. 6 position, while former councilman Bruce Nupp is running unopposed for the No. 5 spot. For a brief moment during filing week it looked like he would run against his wife Carra Nupp for the spot, but it was all in good fun as Nupp was choosing not to run again due to life commitments.
CHEWELAH CITY COUNCIL POSITION NO. 4
In the Council No. 4 position, longtime council member John May has two challengers. May has been on the council since the 1970s but will be running against Danny Heydorn and Ryan Sieber in the election.
When it comes to his background, it might be a rarity for modern day politics. May worked for the Milwaukee railroad as a telegraph operator for three years, he spent summers mining rock for Northwest Marble Products and worked two years doing road construction. He spent two years in the Army and then May taught for 30 years in the Chewelah School District, meaning he’s probably had a good chunk of the town populace in his classroom. He has been involved in local city government for a comparable amount of time.
“There is a great deal of satisfaction in being able to be part of getting something worthwhile done,” May said. “Having been a resident of this community for many years, I understand the concerns of many of our elder residents. They and I are concerned about safety and security of not only our selves but also our belongings.” May told The Independent he was instrumental in the development of the golf course.”
May said he has a good deal of common sense and that he tends to steer away from “politically correct” speech and call a spade a spade. He says he is honest and people can believe what he says and he will do the best to accomplish his task.
Along with that, May said he has really enjoyed being part of the decisions that have benefited the city over the past eight years and eagerly look forward to the next four if the citizens want me.
“Our police department is doing a good job and I would like to be in a position where I could aid them and help them continue to do a good job,” May said.
May is a graduate of Eastern Washington University and has taken classes from Gonzaga, Whitworth and the University of Nevada-Reno.
“At one time I was certified to have temporary custody of moon rocks,” May said. “That was a special time for me and I think some of my students.”
Ryan Sieber moved to Chewelah three years ago for the outdoor recreation opportunities. Siber and his family are extremely active in the ski community, with two kids on the FAST Race Team. Sieber is also the vice president of the Chewelah Valley Land Trust which is working to create a community forest for the city.
“I love this community and I want to get involved helping continue progress towards a sustainable bright future,” Sieber said. “It is the small-town feel that brought my family here a few years ago, and I want to preserve that atmosphere while we move forward with new opportunities being presented.”
Sieber said he would like to pursue the development of recreation opportunities for local use and economic growth. With new businesses opening and recreation opportunities expanding, Sieber said he felt the city is headed in the right direction.
“I am looking forward to bringing my experience living in other recreational and tourism based communities to help guide the direction of Chewelah. I feel that we are on the edge of some really important opportunities in Chewelah and Stevens County; the recent purchase of 49 Degrees North and the Chewelah A to Z project, among other activities, are incredibly promising,” Sieber said. “I’m educated, involved, respected in the community, and looking forward to opportunities to put my passion to use.”
While Sieber said he is fairly new to town, he harbors a deep respect for all the community members and looks forward to working with fellow councilmembers and citizens on how the best opportunities for Chewelah can be pursued.
Danny Heydorn also filed as a candidate in the election but could not be reached for comment.
CHEWELAH CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE POSITION
Sitting councilperson John Wight has two opponents in the upcoming election, and the 35-year resident of Chewelah wants to continue to serve to give back to the community.
“I am hoping to have a positive impact,” Wight said. “My major goal is to keep our city out of debt and keep the cost of living reasonable for all of our residents.”
Wight said along with staying out of debt, he would like to keep the community both clean and safe. He added his experience with the town makes him a great candidate for the position.
“I have been a member of the community for over 35 years and have seen many changes transpire over this time,” Wight said. “I have a very good understanding of what the people want and need to live in a safe and comfortable community. I have been a blue collar worker my entire life and understand what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. Many of our community members live on a fixed income and their needs must been taken into consideration. I have also raised my children in Chewelah and understand the concerns of keeping our city safe for everyone.”
Wight, who has served in his position for the past four years, said he was the driving force behind the city getting a recycling center, along with consolidating resources to stay debt free.
“I am proud that I have been on the council during this exciting time,” Wight said. “We have made improvements to our sidewalks through grants and we have built a new city shop and recycling center by selling two older buildings which in turn has saved the city money in repairs of old buildings. The vote of the council has also allowed us to purchase the airport which has great opportunity to bring in funds that will help Chewelah as a whole. I believe that when re-elected I will continue to be a positive driving force behind keeping our city and it’s businesses thriving.”
He finished with saying he would like to see the council represent the majority of the city as opposed to a small percentage of people in town.
“Everybody deserves to be heard and their needs taken into consideration,” Wight said.
One of the challengers to Wight is Ashley Grubb. Grubb was the 2006 Miss Chewelah and she says it was participating in that that helped her develop a great respect and love for the community.
She has a bachelor’s of arts in business administration with a major in accounting along with a master’s in business administration with finance concentration.
“I plan on putting my education and work experience to use if I am chosen to represent our town on the city council,” Grubb said. “I feel the best way for anyone to become informed is to become involved. Just as I did with the school board. I became involved with the school board during a time when there was a lot of unknown details about McCleary and what that meant for the district.”
She was appointed to the school board, but it was later discovered that the boundaries for each position did not match up with her residence. She stayed with the school district in an office position.
“I am extremely grateful for the time I got to serve in that position,” Grubb said. “Just like with the school board, I feel an extreme appreciation to our community and want to become more involved. I have always had an interest in Chewelah and it’s wellbeing. I feel this would be one way for me to give back to the community that has supported and encouraged me throughout my life. Therefore, I have decided to act on my interest and run for a position on our city council.”
Grubb said she wants what is best for the town and can bring more variation to the council.
Candice Capoeman is also running for the position after living in the Chewelah area for 34 years and is raising her children here.
“I coach t-ball/soccer and a leader of the Girl Scouts,” Capoeman said. “I believe that the City of Chewelah needs to make some changes. I can no longer remain quiet and watch the town that I love fail to meet the wants and needs of its citizens it is time for answers.”
Capoeman wants to focus on why utility prices are getting higher, why the city is selling property which to her means lost parking downtown. She also wants to look into the possibility of a splash pad for Chewelah as well.
“I believe that if elected, I can be part of the change that is greatly needed. I would appreciate your vote,” Capoeman said.
CHEWELAH SCHOOL BOARD NO. 5 AT-LARGE SEAT
Kyra Rolstad (Sean Peterson is on the ballot but is encouraging people to vote for Rolstad), Dan Krouse and Bryan Tidwell are running for the Chewelah School Board unopposed but, in the No. 5 At-Large Seat, Warren Stewart and T.O. Bakken are vying for that spot.
Bakken is running on a platform of excellence, accountability, sustainability and transparency.
“We must maintain and improve the Chewelah district, planning for the future in a fiscally responsible manner,” Bakken said. “We must serve all students, preparing them for the workforce, relevant vocational training, or college. They should be able to follow their dreams.”
Bakken said that funding changes by the McCleary decision for the state to fund more general education, means that the school district needs to have a responsible and sustainable play for the future.
“We must maintain ongoing dialogue with our lawmakers as well as open communication with our community,” Bakken said. “Aspects of the new budget model can cripple small school districts. However, we can make our schools stronger by using the McCleary funds responsibly and effectively.”
Bakken is a longtime community member and has had several kids in or graduated from the district. She has also taught in the K-12 system and in community colleges in Washington as well as having served on curriculum, budgeting and planning committees.
“I understand the nuts and bolts that make schools work,” Bakken said. “I promise to responsibly evaluate issues and policy, listen to the community, and be honest and transparent in the decision-making process. I ask for your vote in November.”]
Warren Stewart moved to the area in 2000 and said he noticed a negative trend in the school system after the Alcoa plant closure. He was born in Oklahoma and joined the Navy where he spent six years in the west Pacific. He worked for AT&T in Los Angeles after an honorable discharge and during that time also volunteered as a LA County Deputy. After retiring from 27 years of work with AT&T, Stewart and wife Ruth bought a ranch in NE Oregon for 10 years where he drove school bus.
“Because it was a sparsely populated remote area and they had difficulty getting help,” Stewart said. “But after a neighbor had a serious medical emergency in that remote area, we decided it would be a good idea to move somewhere closer to medical care. We found Chewelah and have not looked back.”
Stewart drove bus in Chewelah for roughly 14 years and said he loves the people, thinks its a good place to live and that it needs to attract more young people.
“We have excellent teachers and staff and a 5-star transportation department. We are cutting programs and losing students,” Stewart said. “I want to be in a position to address this problem.
Stewart said he would find out what parents and student want and expect from the school system. He said cutting programs will drive parents and students away which are the big driving engine of the community. He would alsol ike to see more transparency on how money is being spent and what is needed to achieve the community goals.
“A published, detailed budget would help,” Stewart said.
Steward has been involved with different school systems for the last 40 years and has driven a school bus for about 20 of those. He was involved in the local PTA when his kids were in school as well as on the board of directors for the little league organization where they grew up.
Some of his focuses are the high school boiler situation, reaching standards for efficiency in school buildings as well as protecting local school employees and not just replacing them.