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Candidates speak at town forum


From left, candidates Dave Schmidt, Keith St. Jeor and Herb Sherburne.

Pride in their community was the overall theme of the town council candidate forum in Coulee Dam last Thursday night.

Three of six candidates showed up and had an opportunity to connect with some 15 people who attended.

One candidate, David Schmidt, spoke of maintaining the appearance of the town, one of its greatest assets. He proposed more attention to parks, sidewalks and trees. Schmidt serves on the Natural Resources (tree) board.

Another candidate, Herb Sherburne, who serves on the town Civil Service Commission, enjoyed the evening so much he stated that, if elected, he would push for a similar meeting once a month so townspeople could come and question council members.

A third candidate, Keith St. Jeor, would like to get behind the wastewater treatment project and get it done.

Three other candidates, Ben Alling, Bonnie Femling and Ken Miles, did not attend.

Schmidt is running against Femling for Council Position 1; Sherburne is going against longtime Councilmember Ben Alling for position 4; and Keith St. Jeor is challenging Councilmember Ken Miles in the position-5 race.

Schmidt and Femling have each served on the council before.

The candidates attending made brief statements to introduce themselves and then answered questions from the audience and posed by moderator Scott Hunter, publisher of The Star newspaper.

Sherburne stated that he retired from a career with the Seattle Times and moved into consulting on industrial safety. He has lived in Coulee Dam for the past nine years. He spoke favorably about the concept of consolidation of local towns or their services, as did all three candidates.

"One thing I have learned is that you can't do things by yourself," he said. He is a strong advocate of getting the community involved in town government.

St. Jeor is a graduate of Lake Roosevelt High School and Eastern Washington University, and works at the Bureau of Reclamation as a foreman. He stated that he has been a trainer of employees who have gone on to foreman positions. He has been attending most council meetings, he said, but feels people are often not heard and understood at those meetings. That's the main reason he's running, he said. He also stated that fixing issues in the fire and ambulance service should be a top priority.

Schmidt has been in the area for 50 years, with the last 23 as a town resident. He retired after a successful time as president of the Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union. He stated that his father always told him that if you attend your community's council meetings, you can have a stronger voice. He said he was a good listener, something you have to be if you want to solve problems. He assured the audience that he would have time to serve. "All I have to do now is walk my dog," he stated. Schmidt said he would "work hard" and "work smart," be open-minded and work with whoever else is on the council to solve problems.

Schmidt also stated that local municipalities here could share equipment and personnel. "How many dump trucks and backhoes do you need?" he asked. He said that, although he has been in favor of consolidation of local towns, he does not advocate that, recognizing inherent complications.

St. Jeor said that it is obvious that police departments could work together.

In general, the candidates were upbeat about Coulee Dam, but would like to see greater participation by town residents in government.

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