Toby Schindelbeck, the challenger for seat 1 on Coeur d'Alene's City Council, has a very specific idea for one of his top priorities if he is able to knock off veteran incumbent Ron Edinger.
Schindelbeck, a local businessman who owns a health and wellness store in Coeur d'Alene, has expressed his frustration with the fact that ignite cda (formerly the Lake City Development Corporation), an independent development agency with a focus on urban renewal, is allowed to spend taxpayer money with no input from elected officials or the public.
"It's un-American and bad policy to have taxation without representation," Schindelbeck said during a forum in mid-October. "At this point the voters have no say in what the urban renewal district does."
If elected, Schindelbeck says he would like the city council to have control of those funds and eventually disband the program. He would rather see those tax dollars put toward hiring more police officers and improving the roads instead of raising taxes to do those things.
When asked what the city council's role is in promoting urban renewal and business development, he says, "getting out of the way."
"Freezing property taxes for 10 years, waiving impact fees, having a single point of contact in City Hall where somebody can get all their permits organized, these types of things are what the government can do to bring in economic development," Schindelbeck says. "We don't have to subsidize them with tax dollars."
Asked what he thought about Schindelbeck's idea to freeze property taxes, Edinger, who has served as a councilmember on and off since 1968, says: "To be very honest with you, I haven't thought a whole helluva lot about it."
Edinger was elected mayor of Coeur d'Alene in 1973 and served in that capacity until 1977. Two years later, he was elected back onto the city council. He pointed to his experience in City Hall as his main advantage over Schindelbeck, who in turn has said it's that longevity that makes Edinger part of a "good old boys club."
"I'm not a part of the good old boys club," Edinger says. "I'm friends with our city employees, but they're good, hardworking people."
He added that he disagreed with some decisions made by ignite cda, but he thinks that its members have Coeur d'Alene's interests at heart. Specifically, Edinger says he was not in favor of ignite cda giving rent money to the proposed Coeur d'Alene Tech Market, an idea that fell by the wayside at the end of September.
Adams vs. English vs. MacNeil
Incumbent Steve Adams is facing two opponents for his city council seat. The first, Dan English, served on the council in the early '90s before being appointed the Kootenai County Clerk. English was a commissioned police officer for two years and a former volunteer firefighter in Coeur d'Alene. He has started two nonprofits, one a home for delinquent boys, and is currently the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho. He touts his people skills and experience as a counselor as good qualities for a candidate for local government.
"I'm a pretty open-minded person, and I'm running because I enjoy the decision-making process and taking a deeper look at issues as they come up," he says. "I don't have a preset agenda."
The second challenger, Bruce MacNeil, uses images of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy for Sunday dinner and a golden retriever at his side to evoke the warm, family feeling he wants to bring back to Coeur d'Alene. He says his reason for running is to rebuild effective communication between citizens and local elected officials.
"The things I'm hearing are a love for the place we live, concern for our children and how we spend the money we collect in the community," MacNeil says.
For his part, Adams' priorities, if re-elected, would be to reduce property taxes and get rid of ignite cda. He also says he wouldn't support raising taxes to add more police officers and generally wasn't in favor of accepting federal grant dollars to fund local projects.
Of the three candidates, English is the only one who believes shutting down ignite cda completely would be a mistake.
As of mid-October, English leads all city council candidates in campaign funds with $7,042, according to his 30-day pre-election finance disclosure statement. Next in line is Adams with $5,901 and Edinger with $5,729. Schindelbeck has raised $1,620 and MacNeil $20.
"I'm not accepting, nor am I seeking, endorsements or in-kind contributions from any group," MacNeil says. "That's to show voters that I'm in nobody's pocket, and I will make decisions based on the merits of the issue, not the interests of a particular group." ♦