The candidates who showed for the KEA forum this afternoon acquitted themselves quite nicely, with mostly thoughtful answers to mostly difficult questions. Only challenger Dan Gookin failed to show, claiming in a letter to Kootenai Environmental Alliance the he had a prior engagement.
As moderator, I thought things went well, but perhaps too well. On the core substance, there seemed to be a lot of agreement among the candidates, and therefore maybe not enough distinction between candidates on this particular set of issues. I thought the incumbents tended to be more knowledgeable on some issues, but that is certainly to be expected. Stylistically, I thought a few candidates did very well in our forum, and a few didn’t. (No, I won’t say which.) Incumbent councilman Mike Kennedy mentioned his Conservation Voters for Idaho endorsement, but the rest of the candidates weren’t particularly shy about touting environmentalist leanings either, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.
We asked prepared questions about: sustainable development, opportunities for re-development, the education corridor design, water quality permitting for the sewage treatment plant, the independence point parking lot, and Coeur d’Alene Lake. An audience member submitted a question about conflicts of interest.
I thought there was an interesting, even surprising, consensus on a number of items. Sure, we need to protect our neighborhoods, and Lake, and aquifer, and Tubbs Hill, et cetera. But most of the candidates also spoke strongly about the hillside ordinance, and the need to protect our hillsides from development. And all the candidates tended to agree that the City will simply need to do what it needs to do to have the City’s sewage treatment plant comply with the tight new Clean Water Act requirements on the Spokane River likely to be promulgated soon. However, there were some subtle differences as to how candidates thought improvements to the plant would be financed.
In all, it was a good experience, I think — for the candidates to talk about difficult but highly relevant issues, and for the audience to hear directly what the candidates had to say. We wish the candidates the best of luck, and may there be a strong turnout of environmental voters on November 3rd.