November 25, 2022

In eastern WA, vaccine messages matter to political candidates

Ben Wick, who is seeking re-election to Spokane Valley City Council, posts on a recent forum, where he highlighted several issues. (via Facebook)

Problems outside of COVID-19

Wick isn’t the only candidate focusing on other issues.

Smith, a professor at the University of Washington, said this reflected a principle of “ownership of problems.”

Democratic candidates, for example, will steer messages towards health care, while Republican candidates could talk more about budget policies.

But ownership of the show could also apply to local race contestants. “May be [candidates] built a record in a certain area where the city has jurisdiction, ”Smith said.

This is certainly the case during a city council race in Moses Lake, the largest city in Grant County, in central Washington.

Outgoing President Mike Riggs, who was elected to council in 2017, believes his work in dealing with the city’s growing population resonates with voters. This includes revising policies to allow certain construction activities and finding ways to build road, water and sewer systems to better support a larger population.

“The work must continue,” he said. “The city must continue to prepare [for growth]. ”

Riggs, who considers himself an independent, has seen residents of Moses Lake voice their concerns about the mask and vaccine warrants and noted that he had ignored directives from the governor or the state Department of Health.

But what Inslee and state officials have done is within the law, he said.

“It’s up to you to declare an emergency, to demand certain sacrifices to get us out of it,” he said. “I am a supporter of law and order. There must be peaceful ways to change the law if necessary. Until this is accomplished, we must comply; otherwise, it’s chaos.

Unlike the races in the Yakima County and Spokane Valley races, Riggs does not face a challenger who seeks to actively resist or push back the COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, despite strong community opposition to Moses Lake.

Deanna Martinez has expressed concern over what she believes are excessive emergency powers given to Inslee during the pandemic. She featured in a Northwest News Network article last year shine a light on citizens opposed to prolonged business closures. She also believes that local communities should have more of a say in the response to the pandemic.

“As a member of the local city council, I [won’t] have a say other than sending a letter, ”she said. “Hopefully lawmakers will be able to set emergency powers at some point, so that gives us a little more local control.”

At the same time, Martinez, a registered nurse, has seen the impact of increasing COVID-19 cases on local hospitals, like the one she works in. She is also involved in The partnership for food security, a group working to increase COVID-19 vaccination in the Latino community.

She also includes those who defend individual freedoms, but believes that should not be the only factor in policymaking.

“We have a broader humanitarian perspective to consider,” she said.

COVID-19 has not been a major part of his campaign. Like Riggs, she focuses on issues that city council can deal with.

“I think even though [the pandemic] is obviously very apparent in our community, we are primarily looking at how we manage the growth of our business, the growth of our community and our infrastructure, ”she said. “These are our priorities.”