Two Council Seats Challenged in Kalispell

By Beacon Staff

The Kalispell City Council candidates were asked the following three questions:

1. What separates you from other candidates?
2. What are specific things Kalispell should do to create affordable housing?
3. What is another key issue facing Kalispell and why is it important?

Name: Richard “Rick” Hull, Candidate for Ward 3
Age: 58
Occupation: Appraiser
Hometown: Whitefish
Years in the valley: 53

1. With the new tax on cable TV to finance a video-production empire, the council shows it is out of touch with taxpayers.

2. Innovative approaches, including smaller lots and cheaper home designs, are needed.

3. The council has forgotten what a city is, and has allowed developers to create a neither fish-nor-fowl that will stretch services to the limit.

Name: Randy Kenyon, Candidate for Ward 3 (incumbent)
Age: 57
Occupation: Social Services Director
Hometown: Plymouth, Michigan
Years in the valley: 34

1. My two terms on the city council is the most distinctive factor that separates me from my opponent. This experience is important both for acquiring institutional knowledge and the process of creating law. Another factor I believe is my experience managing a private non-profit social service agency in Kalispell providing me with a wide-ranging perspective.

2. First and foremost is for the city to encourage partnering of local private sector financial institutions with non-governmental agencies to provide creative and innovative opportunities. Gathering together our community to create a housing foundation may be part of a unique solution. Lastly, our city council could consider an ordinance in conjunction with developers in offering affordable housing.

3. Probably the most dynamic issue facing the Kalispell is a growth-related issue that has recently come to the forefront. How far out can the city continue to allow development? The city’s infrastructure and the taxpayers’ burdens are not unlimited. At some point we need to take a break, and a hard look at the long-term implications of unrestrained growth.

Name: Clint Cathcart, Candidate for Ward 4
Age: 59
Occupation: Sales
Hometown: Kalispell
Years in the valley: Off and on for 59

1. I have no agenda beyond wishing to serve Kalispell. I am fiscally more conservative. We must look at the money we raise and the ways in which those funds are expended. In the last seventeen years the city budget has grown tenfold, a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent, while population has grown just 2 percent. That is appalling.

2. The city cannot create affordable housing. It can, however, encourage and facilitate this effort. To do so will require scrutinizing policies and regulations before adoption to stop these measures from unduly or unnecessarily driving up construction costs. Additionally, the city must find ways to encourage and induce developers and builders to undertake this type of construction.

3. Community/business development in downtown Kalispell. The downtown is the heart and soul of a community. We throw money at the problem but haven’t come to grips with it. Downtown must be redefined to restore its vitality. This requires a joint effort between the city and downtown business and property owners. Creative taxation alone will not bring about the necessary changes.

Name: Duane Larson, Candidate for Ward 4 (incumbent)
Age: 70
Occupation: Retired Fire Chief
Hometown: Kalispell
Years in the valley: 52 +

1. I have been involved in the Flathead Valley community for over 52 years. Twenty-two years on the Kalispell Fire Department dealing with all aspects of public safety and 19 years serving on the Kalispell City Council. This service gives me a broad base of city history and valuable experience. I understand the needs, cares and concerns of Kalispell’s citizens.

2. The city needs to explore community land trust options. CLTs help to maintain – into the future – land values at affordable prices. We, as a city, need to foster public/private partnerships with developers. The city needs to continue to attract higher paying jobs to qualify more citizens to meet the criteria for affordable housing.

3. Managing growth. Virtually everything the city does, including: service delivery, affordable housing, infrastructure, budgeting, maintaining a healthy tax base and employee relations are all affected by growth. The city must make certain that developers and new citizens pay their fair share for the impacts of growth. Current Kalispell citizens have paid to make available and maintain necessary infrastructure and services.

City council members Kari Gabriel (Ward 1) and Wayne P. Saverud (Ward 2) are running unopposed.

Read related story: City Council Elections Heating Up

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