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Four seek three open Grangeville council seats

— A desire for community service and applying experience and skills to maintaining and improving city services are key issues for candidates in the race for Grangeville City Council.

Three four-year council terms are open in the Nov. 5 elections, sought by incumbents Beryl Grant and Wes Lester, and newcomers Tony Ellis and Scott Winkler.

Mayor Bruce Walker is running unopposed for re-election.

The Free Press provided candidate questionnaires on their individual races. The following information is compiled from their responses and interviews.

Beryl Grant

“I love Grangeville and am involved in many facets of the city, both as a business person and as a very active volunteer,” said Beryl Grant. “I’m in a great position to understand the needs in our community and as a city councilor can help figure out ways to meet those needs. I have enjoyed the past year that I have spent on the council, learned a lot and hope to put that learning to use to better our city.”

A Grangeville resident for more than 42 years, Grant was appointed to fill a vacant council seat in fall 2012. She belongs to the Grangeville Chamber of Commerce (and is a past president and board member), is president of the Lewis-Clark State College Outreach Advisory Board, belongs to the Grangeville Country Club, attends the Human Needs Council and the Grangeville Christian Church, and is a member of Gamma Beta Sorority, Hospital Auxiliary and Grangeville Kiwanis.

Grant has worked in banking for 28 years, of which she has been the manager of Sterling Bank for 22. She also worked at the Grangeville Liquor Store and as a bookkeeper for Helbling Bros. Implement in Moscow. She has a degree in machine bookkeeping from Kinman Business University, Spokane. Her husband of nearly 42 years, Joe, died in February, and she has three grown children, six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

“My strength is my banking background, so budgeting is my top priority,” she said. “It’s important to me to constantly check the numbers to get ‘the best bang for our buck.’ We need to keep our infrastructure strong and do the best we can with the money we have.”

Grant said she has no agenda, and she considers each request as it is presented and acts on what she thinks is the right thing to do at the time.

“Am I always going to make the right decision? No. Am I always going to make the popular decision? No. But I will do the best I can to make a decision I will be proud to stand behind,” she said, “and fair to the most people involved.”

Wes Lester

Wes Lester has been on the Grangeville City Council for the past 16 years.

“It doesn’t make you popular, this job,” he laughed. “There are a lot of decisions that are just difficult and we have to follow many mandates. Sure, there are other ways I would rather spend money a lot of times but often there is no choice.”

Lester was born and raised in the Grangeville area and has farmed here all his life. He graduated from Grangeville High School in 1983.

“I care about what happens in my community, so that’s why I continue to run for council,” Lester said.

As far as the most important upcoming issues, Lester sees the ongoing water and sewer projects as taking a lion’s share of time and resources, as well as trying to maintain the city’s streets.

Tony D. Ellis

“My desire is to learn through my time as a council member which issues are most important to the people here,” said Tony Ellis, “how I can contribute to the well-being and growth of our town, and how to help maintain the pride we all feel as members of this great community.”

Ellis is married to wife, Krystal (Rehder) Ellis of Cottonwood, and the couple has three children: Aidra, 3, and Brody, 1, and Parker, 12, who lives in Florida. The couple moved here six years ago from Daytona Beach, Fla. He currently owns Gem Design, prior to which he served as manager of Irwin Drug. He served on the Grangeville Country Club (GCC) Board, working on GCC events and helping provide new resources and advertising opportunities.

“I have never held any public office, but I believe that my years of experience in positions from corporate management to smaller management fields, in addition to my time spent on area project and budget committees, will serve our community well on issues that we face,” Ellis said.

Since moving to Grangeville, Ellis said he has been fascinated with the pride of the community – sensed right away through its businesses – and knew it was the best place to raise the couple’s children. He has since made many friends, whose passion is this community and who work daily to preserve the Grangeville way of life. Since the community has been good to him and his family, Ellis said he felt it was time to work toward these same pursuits.

“I will work with council members on city development projects, funds appropriations, rural and business issues,” Ellis said, “and listen to the members of our town on what matters most to them.”

Scott Winkler

“I am running for this position because I care about and am committed to the city of Grangeville and its well-being,” said Scott Winkler.

A lifelong Grangeville resident, Winkler has worked 10 years as a plumbing professional for Williams Plumbing. He currently serves as president of the Grangeville Border Days Committee; 10 years of service overall with three as secretary and two as vice president.

Present and ever increasing issues the city faces, Winkler said, are the rise of infrastructure costs, repairs, and upgrades that outweigh incoming revenues received.

“These issues require a council member who is committed to Grangeville and willing to make tough decisions based on research, knowledge and experience,” he said. “As a plumbing professional for the past 15-plus years, holding both a journeyman’s and contracting license, I believe my knowledge and insight on different plumbing related issues would be greatly valued by the city of Grangeville in making related decisions. I strongly believe in the continuation of infrastructure upgrades and improvements as the budget allows, along with a friendly pro-business atmosphere.”

Winker said he is approachable, friendly, dedicated to the community, and open to new ideas. With all of his experience, “I do believe I am in tune with the city of Grangeville, its people and their needs.”

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