Know Your Candidates

The Deer Park Gazette asked 5 Questions of the city council candidates. There are 5 candidates campaigning for 3 council positions. The questions range from a candidate’s personal desires for our fair city, to law enforcement and city ordinances. Our goal was to have each answer the same questions in order to give voters a better idea of which candidate best aligns with their own views. 

Questions were sent to all 5 candidates; however, only 4 responded.   Thank you to all the candidates who responded to our questions. 

For Council Position 2 – Incumbent Helen (Dee) Cragun 
Helen (Dee) Cragun 
Carla J. Phillips

For Council Position 4 – Incumbent Don Stevens
Heather Newsom (did not respond)
Caleb Stapp (Position 4)

For Council Position 5 – Incumbent Joe Polowski
Ron Scholz

What is the most important issue to you and why?

Helen Cragun (Position 2) – I would say the most important issue to me would be the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Deer Park. This is important to me because it is the primary duty of the city council. The second importance is to be the voice of the citizens of Deer Park hoping they will come to you or to the city council with their issue so that we as a council hopefully can resolve their issue.

Carla Phillips (Position 2) – The most important issue to me is encouraging a strong community in Deer Park.  I want to start with the City Council itself by making Council meetings more accessible and welcoming to the citizens of Deer Park.  I would achieve this by having an annual “open house” where citizens can “meet and greet” Council members. I also would invite high school students to serve as greeters for Council meetings, greeting and handing out agendas to attendees.  This will encourage voters, and young adults, to become more involved in our city government. 

Caleb Stapp (Position 4)  – Servant leadership. I am not naturally inclined to be a servant and to work for other’s interests. Yet over the last several years I have been changed from the inside out and I hope that by the time I die my friends and family will be able to truthfully celebrate a lifetime of serving others. Deer Park needs leaders who will work hard to guide us into a better future, but it needs servant leaders who will pour themselves out to help others get to that future first. I am Caleb Stapp (Position 4) and I will be a leading servant.

Ronald Scholz (Position 5)  – I would say economic growth. I believe that our local families would benefit as the City of Deer Park seeks to attract new businesses to our community. I would like to help the city by working on improving our infrastructure to help attract an array of new businesses.

What would you like to see happen with law enforcement in Deer Park?

Helen Cragun (Position 2) –      First and foremost it would be wonderful if we had our own police force however the cost is prohibitive. After the startup, it would run about $1 million and a half a year to have an adequate amount of full-time deputies. I have been working on this for many years now meeting with city officials of small cities and towns throughout the state on my own time and dollar trying to find some answers. The bottom line is we have to work with what we have, this is what we can afford. Down the road, we will have to look at other options as the city continues to grow.

Carla Phillips (Position 2) – I believe that law enforcement we have now is working, but we are growing rapidly and need to explore options to expand police coverage.  We are now paying Spokane County for law enforcement. At some point, it may be financially prudent to have our own police department to ensure 24 hour coverage.

Caleb Stapp (Position 4) – We will need a police force. When? I don’t know. However, I do know that we should create a police force before we necessarily feel that we need it. I am sure that it will cost more in tax revenue than any of us want to pay. Yet I don’t plan on ever voting for the cheapest option simply because it is the cheapest. Law enforcement is a dangerous and difficult job and when asking individuals to serve in that capacity we should also promise them our full support. I’m Caleb Stapp (Position 4) and I will be a wise planner.

Ronald Scholz (Position 5) – I believe that as our city grows that the time is coming that we will need to have 24/7 police coverage. We need to look at all of our options and pursue the best course for Deer Park.

What is Deer Park missing and how would you change that?

Helen Cragun (Position 2) –      Deer Park is missing a motel and a family-style restaurant such as Dennys or Sharis that is accessible to the highway twenty-four seven.  We have an economic developer who is currently working on this issue. He is talking to private motel developers to see if we can get a motel out here to accommodate our visitors and those passing through. Currently underway and soon to be open is a center where our local youth have a place to go. 

Carla Phillips (Position 2) – I would like to see visual improvements to our downtown to make it more inviting for shopping, etc.  We need trees and flowers planted along Main and Crawford, in partnership with local businesses. We also need more recreational opportunities for families right here in town, such as promoting outdoor activities such as hiking (trails near the airport), X-Country skiing (possibly at the golf course), and looking into building a community center with an indoor pool, basketball courts, etc.  Our dependence on Spokane will lessen if we can provide more locally!

Caleb Stapp (Position 4) –   A sense of community within a three to six block radius of our homes. Won’t you be my neighbor? As our population continues to expand we can successfully grow bigger by growing smaller. As a city councilman I will do whatever I can to encourage each neighborhood to pursue its own identity. As a community leader I lead by example: I live not just in Deer Park, but in the Swinyard Park neighborhood and I regularly plan and lead neighborhood gatherings at the expense of my own time and resources. I’m Caleb Stapp (Position 4) and I will be your neighbor.

Ronald Scholz (Position 5) – There are a couple of things that I think will benefit Deer Park. I would like to see a hotel. This will help to create new jobs and be a benefit for visitors and local businesses in our area.  I would also like to see more options for internet/communication services made available to our residents and businesses. I believe that working with the City Council and business entities we can come up with innovative ways to work towards accomplishing these goals.

What kind of growth would you like to see for Deer Park?

Helen Cragun (Position 2) –     Growth is inevitable however it needs to be sustainable by our infrastructure. The biggest issue with growth is trying to keep our small-town feel, our sense of community,  and that each citizen is important to the community. 

Carla Phillips (Position 2) – Deer Park is growing rapidly.  We are a desirable small city with much potential.  I would like to see smart growth, with more green spaces, trees, and wide streets and sidewalks in our new residential areas.  We have many beautiful existing homes that we can encourage owners to refurbish. Commercially, we have a good plan for the new industrial park, and I want to encourage more businesses to locate here.

Caleb Stapp (Position 4) –   I love Deer Park and I’m excited to welcome everyone to enjoy this beautiful town. Turning strangers into neighbors is one of my missions in life and I express that through inviting new acquaintances over for dinner. As founder and leader of Discover Deer Park I’ve made it my goal that each new resident of Deer Park be invited to a new neighbor gathering designed to help them meet new potential friends as well as important community leaders such as the mayor, school superintendent, faith community representative, and library supervisor. I’m Caleb Stapp (Position 4) and I will lead inclusive growth.

Ronald Scholz (Position 5) – Again, I would say economic growth. I am a firm believer that as small businesses prosper so does our community.

What fireworks laws do you think are ideal for Deer Park?

Helen Cragun (Position 2) –     The fireworks issue has been a difficult one to come to terms with because there are as many that want to ban them as those that want to keep them. I personally was very pleased with the outcome of this last July 4th. There are those that thought I was against fireworks nothing could be further than the truth. When I was younger I ran around with sparklers and set off fireworks just like any child. There have been suggestions that we discontinue the city fireworks because people buy their own but much like many of you I would never miss the city fireworks display for the world. The new laws that take place in 2020 are more restrictive with fewer days for sales and fewer days for discharge. The City Council felt it necessary to be more restrictive til things return to a more controllable venue. If anyone has any questions about the fireworks please feel free to contact the mayor or a council member. 

Carla Phillips (Position 2) – I think the Fourth of July is wonderful in Deer Park.  Many residents want to be able to celebrate with their own fireworks, and our new fireworks regulations seemed to work well this summer.  I would like to continue to monitor the situation, and reevaluate the ordinance as needed. 

Caleb Stapp (Position 4) –   Freedom, especially on property one owns, is a principle we must guard. I will vote to relax the new fireworks ordinance to allow more freedom, including the ability of business owners to light fireworks on their property as they choose. Consumer fireworks in public parks & spaces should be prohibited since safety equipment isn’t easily available and crowding increases the dangerous aspects of fireworks. I will vote to instruct our law enforcement officers to enforce, not educate, during fireworks season. Others can and should educate, the police should enforce the law. I’m Caleb Stapp (Position 4) and I will vote for freedom.

Ronald Scholz (Position 5) – I am satisfied with the decision that the City Council devised. I am aware of some of our veterans that live in our community suffer from PTSD. So it is important to keep them in mind in regards to the firework decision. On the other hand, fireworks are an American tradition. I believe that the compromise reached respects the concerns of people on both sides of the issue.

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