Four individuals seek three open council seats in November’s election for the city of St. Maries.
Laci L. St. John, Ed Spooner, Randy Saunders and Laci Hanson will be on the ballot Nov. 5. Each brings a different background and reasons for running. The three candidates with the most votes will be elected to the three open seats.
Laci L. St. John
A St. Maries native, Mrs. St. John moved back to the area with her family, husband Brian and two children, in 2009. She and her husband own Benewah Beverage, the Boutique Suite and she is a real estate agent at Four Seasons Realty. She manages social media accounts for several local businesses as well and is involved in the community organizing the Toys for Tots drive and as a Booster Club member.
Mrs. St. John said she was asked previously to consider an appointment to a vacated seat but the timing was not right for her.
“However, I never strayed away from the thought of running,” she said.
Mrs. St. John said she has a strong interest in local government and wants to be able to represent community members as well as local businesses through serving on the council. She said she wants to see St. Maries continue to thrive and be able to support families and businesses.
“Community and business growth is essential for all of us as it gives more money toward schools, roads, water, civil service jobs and the list goes on,” she said. “I’m not a politician. I am an average citizen choosing to get more involved in the community and working toward St. Maries flourishing in the next five, 10, 15, 20 years from now for the next generation of community and business owners.”
Others items that are important include keeping taxes low for citizens while being able to improve city infrastructure. Mrs. St. John said she knows she will have a lot to learn but is up to the challenge.
“It’s a four year seat and so, if elected, I want to take the first year to learn and listen to what the community is asking and produce that back in positive growth,” she said.
A lifetime resident and a longtime council member, Mr. Spooner served on the council for 20 years and, after a short break, was appointed to fill a vacancy two years ago.
Now retired, he and his wife Claudia, in partnership with another couple, owned Fast Eddies for several years. They raised their two sons in the community, Jim, who now lives in Boise, and Tony, who runs Ironman Fabrications in St. Maries. He was a part of the St. Joe Valley Car Club, serves on the parish council for the St. Maries Catholic Church and is a member of the ambulance committee. He added he works closely with Mayor Tom Carver and helps with additional activities outside of city council.
Mr. Spooner said he decided to run again as the city has a lot of projects going on and he would like to continue to be a part of them. He said Mayor Carver also asked him to run again.
“I have a lot of history and hopefully that helps the city. I ask questions,” he said, adding he also has a great love for the community. “There’s no place better than St. Maries.”
One of his priorities is representation of the taxpayers and their dollars, “making sure their money is spent well.”
“I don’t think most people don’t mind paying taxes but they do want to see something getting done with the money they pay,” Mr. Spooner said. “In the news, we see so much waste at the federal level and I don’t want that here.”
Other priorities for Mr. Spooner are maintaining the city’s parks and pool as well as addressing the maintenance of roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure.
“I want our parks to continue to be beautiful for residents and visitors. I’d like to see a cover over the pool so it could be used 12 months out of the year. That’s something that’s been talked about. Streets and sidewalks are important. Working with Mark Reynolds, public works, to stay on top of things,” he said.
Having a desire to contribute, Mr. Saunders said he decided to run again for a seat on city council. He originally was appointed to fill a vacancy seven years ago. He’s lived in St. Maries for more than 30 years.
Mr. Saunders said a pastor once preached a sermon out of Jeremiah where it talks about caring for the welfare of the city where you live and that’s what has motivated him to serve the residents to the best of his ability.
“My two girls (Heather and Emma) have both graduated and so since I was appointed I’ve had the time to take on more stuff,” he said.
Three things that are important to him include continuing to improve the city’s infrastructure, Railroad Avenue and the city’s sewer system.
He said the city has a good start on the water and sewer system with the current bond project, but there is more to be done. He said the city has focused heavily on its water system but has more to do in the area of sewer.
“We’ve spend some years working on the water system that the sewer has been on the back burner and so we need to put more focus on the sewer,” he said.
Mr. Saunders added the city will be redoing infrastructure underneath Railroad Avenue ahead of that project as well. He said finding a balance is important when it comes to the financial needs of these projects.
“We don’t want to overtax residents but we also have to keep up on these things,” he said.
Mr. Saunders said he takes time to study contracts, proposals, legislation and other items that come before the council.
“I always want to be able to ask good questions,” he said, “of the attorneys, engineers or others. I want us to have meaningful deliberation and make wise decisions.”
After having served for a year, Mrs. Hanson said she would love to continue to be a part of the council if the voters allow her to do so. She has lived in St. Maries her entire life.
Mrs. Hanson is married to Derek and has a daughter, Rylee, who just started college at Lewiston Clark State College. She works fulltime as the assistant manager at Potlatch #1 Federal Credit Union and serves on the ambulance committee.
She was appointed to fill a vacancy by Mayor Tom Carver a year ago and has come to a greater understanding of what takes place to keep the city functioning.
“From the outside you don’t see what goes on. You see the construction but you don’t see or understand what the process is like to even get to that point,” she said. “It’s been eye opening.”
A lot of big projects have been undertaken during her tenure from the bridges along State 3 to the water and sewer projects.
“I won’t say I know everything, but I have learned a lot,” she said. “It feels good to be a part of what makes our community what it is.”
Making sure there are good ordinances in place is one of Mrs. Hanson’s priorities as well as helping people to understand why they are necessary.
“I know when it comes to building permits, people might get ticked off about needing one but we are saving them from tremendous problems. Without the ordinances and rules, people could build wherever they wanted. I want people to be knowledgeable about what we do and why we do it,” she said.
Mrs. Hanson said she has a desire to support the community.
“I bring an open mind and a positive attitude,” she said. “I’m very approachable and so if you have questions reach out.”