Moscow candidates speak at town hall

Forum featured audience Q & A with city council, mayor candidates

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Moscow candidates speak at town hall

Candidates running for Moscow City Council and mayor answer audience questions Wednesday night.

Candidates running for Moscow City Council and mayor answer audience questions Wednesday night.

KEISHA BROKAW | The Daily Evergreen

Candidates running for Moscow City Council and mayor answer audience questions Wednesday night.

KEISHA BROKAW | The Daily Evergreen

KEISHA BROKAW | The Daily Evergreen

Candidates running for Moscow City Council and mayor answer audience questions Wednesday night.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

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Eight city council and mayoral candidates for Moscow discussed transportation, public safety and city branding during a political forum.

The Wednesday forum was not focused on a single policy area. Candidates were able to give opening and closing statements, but the rest of the forum was led by audience submitted questions, forcing candidates to stay on their toes.

Linda Pall, a mayoral candidate, former lawyer and long-time city council member, said that the biggest issue facing the city was climate change.
“I think it’s darn time to deal with that,” she said.

Incumbent mayoral candidate, William “Bill” Lambert, who has lived in Moscow for four decades, said he is progressive and strongly supports the Moscow police. He and the other candidates agreed that the station should be relocated.

Walter Steed, an incumbent council candidate, said the current department is located in a one-way alley and the recent plans to move operations to the Federal Building have fallen through. He believes the department needs better public access and the council is looking into other options.

Another incumbent, Arthur “Art” Bettge, said the biggest issue in his eyes is finding an alternative water source for Moscow.

“[Water] is going to be the limiting factor on this city,” Bettge said.

Council candidate Angela “Gina” Taruscio addressed concerns that the police department is not enforcing traffic violations strictly enough. She encouraged residents and the police department to educate people before cracking down.

Council candidate William “Robb” Parish, was one of two candidates who addressed questions about the safety and inclusion of Moscow’s LGBTQ community. Parish said he believes the community is welcoming, but that inclusion needs to remain a priority.

Pall said LGBTQ residents don’t always feel welcome, and suggested a city ordinance could be used to help the issue.

“The protection of LGBT in Moscow is a long-term issue,” Pall said.

Deborah “Brandy” Sullivan, a potential newcomer to the council and founding owner of One World Cafe, suggested adding more public transit, especially for the elderly and disabled. She said she had a soft spot for seniors, and that Moscow needs to confront its accessibility issues.

Anna Zabala, the only candidate present running for a two-year position instead of a four-year position, is a recent University of Idaho graduate and said her younger perspective could benefit the council. Her opponent, John Weber, was unable to attend the forum due to the flu.

A pair of questions dealt with minimum wage and affordable housing. Lambert said he believed most people worked above minimum wage, which is $7.25 in Idaho. The issue, he said, was limited housing options.

Pall disagreed, calling the minimum wage “far sub-minimum,” and reminded the attendees of a former ordinance enforcing a “livable wage.” She wants to work with the Legislature to achieve a better minimum wage.

The candidates were also asked about the city brand, which is currently “There’s an I in our team.” Zabala said she would like to create an implementation plan and gather community feedback if they were to move forward with a new city brand.

Although Steed was a part of creating the current city slogan, he said he was not impressed with the results of the new branding efforts.
“I wasn’t totally thrilled with the outcome,” he said.

Lambert suggested a brand he had heard from community members; “Hippies, Hipsters, and Hip Surgeons.”

Pall said she thinks the city should focus on its art scene for a potential new city brand.