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Four candidates vie for Cheney City Council

Candidates Jacquelyn Belock, left, Rebecca Long, center and Vincent Barthels, right, are running for Cheney City Council.
Courtesy of the candidates
Candidates Jacquelyn Belock, left, Rebecca Long, center and Vincent Barthels, right, are running for Cheney City Council.

Four people are running this fall for two contested Cheney City Council seats.

Software engineering manager Rebecca Long is challenging incumbent Vincent Barthels.

She said she’s focused on building more pedestrian and bike infrastructure, and looking for ways to improve collaboration with Eastern Washington University.

“A lot of folks have said they feel like there's a wall between the two and it’s hard to get events coordinated between both, and that's something I'm really passionate on trying to solve,” Long said. “I really think that would benefit our whole community, our businesses, literally everyone would benefit.”

Barthels works as an environmental consultant and served on the planning commission before he was appointed to the city council.

He said he’s focused on the purple pipe project, which will conserve potable drinking water, and joining a recently proposed county-wide collaboration to solve homelessness.

“The bottom line is, homelessness is not just a Cheney issue, it’s a regional issue,” Barthels said. “And I think if we work regionally with all the municipalities, I think we can find some common ground and really try to help the folks that need help.”

Long argues Cheney should be doing more to address a shortage of housing. One example is land swaps. Long is a founding member of a land-swap based co-housing community in development. She said a recent state law that allows cities with a shortage of developable land to swap with the county could lead to more diverse housing projects, like hers.

Barthels was one of three ‘no’ votes against that land swap. He said he has nothing against the project in principle, but believes the city could end up being on the hook for transportation improvement costs around that area.

“On face value, I don't have any reservations," he said. “I think that's a great development plan, however, where she's pushing for this is outside city limits, and it’s in an area that would need significant transportation improvements.”

Long disagrees, saying the details of her proposal are all public record, including a traffic study that shows the cohousing community would have a negligible impact on area roads. She said she also hasn’t asked Cheney taxpayers to subsidize the project.

“It’s not going to cost Cheney anything,” she said.

Jacquelyn Belock is running for another seat on the council. She said transparency and increasing access to government are extremely important to her.

Belock is currently on the planning commission, an appointed group of community members that guides Cheney’s growth and development. She’s also a paleontology instructor Spokane Falls Community College.

She said city council meetings should be posted on YouTube, and that meeting agendas and minutes should have more information, and be easy to understand.

Belock is running against Pete Montague, who according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, works for Ag Enterprise Supply in Cheney. He did not respond to a request for an interview.

Belock said one of the main reasons she decided to run is concern about Cheney’s housing stock.

“A lot of the development, and housing development that is going on, is happening 10, 15 miles down the road from us,” she said. “They're not bringing new houses into Cheney really. What we could benefit from are things like condos, more duplexes, quadplexes, and alternative to just the single-family housing that we currently have.”

She said the city needs more affordable options to make sure low-income people, and those living on the margins, aren’t forced into homelessness.

Ballots will go out in mid-October.