Bringing back city-run police force, promoting tourism among issues in Medical Lake mayoral race between Shirley Maike, Terri Cooper

<p><p>Bringing a local police department to Medical Lake could become this year’s key issue for the city’s mayoral election. </p></p><p><p>Voters in Medical Lake can stay the course or go with a new outlook when selecting their next leader, and that starts with public safety issues.</p></p><p><p>Incumbent mayor Shirley Maike said the city’s contract for law enforcement services with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office provides good service for a price the town can afford . Her opponent, Spokane County Court Commissioner Terri Cooper, disagrees.</p></p><p><p>“They work hard every day, and they care about what they do, but they’re spread thin,” Cooper said. “There’s just not enough of them. I would like to try to bring back the local police department within budget.”</p></p><p><p>The local police department debate has been key to voters’ issues since its disbandment in 2009. Several candidates have promised to support the formation of a nearby police force, but it has never come to fruition.</p></p><p><p>Maike said she did studies in 2009 while serving as a city council member to determine the cost and benefits of a local police force. For the town of 5,000 with low levels of crime, Maike said, “we realized regionalization would get us the best service we could get.”</p></p><p><p>Instead, Maike said she would rather maintain Medical Lake’s debt-free status, expand broadband internet service and address housing issues.</p></p><p><p>“The pandemic has really brought to light, as it has in many communities, that need for improved broadband … I know it’s a struggle with all communities to try and find enough providers to provide adequate coverage,” Maike said.</p></p><p><p>Cooper, who grew up in Medical Lake, said she also saw housing as a priority to match the area’s population growth. As mayor, she said she would try to add a new community center and host more events in town.</p></p><p><p>Downtown, where many buildings sit vacant, Cooper said she would sponsor revitalization projects. ReImagine Medical Lake, a nonprofit Cooper started with her sister, has hosted festivals and works with small businesses to promote tourism to the city.</p></p><p><p>“We like our small town feel, and our small town look, and I think we can keep all of that and become a vibrant little gem of Spokane County,” Cooper said. “I think that we are best when we’re a resort community, and we look like it.”</p></p><p><p>If re-elected, Maike said she would make sure the city continued to provide essential services while keeping taxes and utility rates low. The city would seek more grants and other small business support, she said. The city also stepped up by providing water and sewage financial assistance to residents during the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, Maike said.</p></p><p><p>“The City Council and city administration worked hard to identify where that funding would best benefit our residents, and I’m proud of the distributions that were made,” Maike said. “We continued to provide even during the pandemic.”</p></p><p><p>While some residents may want a police department or to shift funds toward tourism, Maike said there is only so much taxpayers can financially bear.</p></p><p><p>“Medical Lake is funded with public money, taxpayers’ money, so there are some things you can spend those funds on, and some things you can’t,” Maike said. “We always try to educate the citizens when we can’t spend taxpayer money on something.”</p></p><p><p>Cooper said she respected the council for consistently staying within the city’s budget, but she said there was a “lack of vision” in some of the projects. More money could go toward sidewalk and street repairs, and the city could also afford a separate police department, Cooper said.</p></p><p><p>She said one of her main focuses is “making Medical Lake a destination place where people will come, where they will spend their money and then we can use their money to make our town more beautiful, which would then attract more people to come,” Cooper said.</p></p>