Longtime Coeur d’Alene city councilor Woody McEvers has been in office for almost 20 years and hopes to win four more in Tuesday’s election.
He faces two newbies to politics, business owner JD Claridge and entrepreneur Grayson Cross.
McEvers is perhaps best known as the co-owner of the downtown restaurant Rustler’s Roost, which he has run with his brother Daren since 1983. His service to the city dates back to 1995, when he served for two years at the city’s Road Safety Commission. . He was appointed to the city’s Planning Commission in 1997 and served for five years before being elected to city council in 2002.
Although McEvers has been involved in many urban projects, he is particularly proud of the commissioning of the city’s cable TV channel, CDA-TV.
“Historically speaking, I’ve been involved in a lot of good things over the years,” he said.
McEvers grew up in the Los Angeles area and graduated from Reseda High School in 1967. He attended Pierce College and worked in beach maintenance for several seasons. He started working in restaurants as a bartender and manager before coming to Coeur d’Alene in 1978. He worked for several restaurants, including Iron Horse, Intrepid and Sourdough, before purchasing Rustler’s Roost.
He got into city politics because he wanted to participate and get involved, McEvers said.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s like going to school and learning new things.
Housing prices are a concern in Coeur d’Alene, and McEvers said he is open to creative options, but creating affordable housing is not the council’s job.
“I think we can help where we can help,” he said. “As far back as I can remember, it has always been about jobs at Coeur d’Alene. When you look back 20 years, let me tell you, you wanted the growth.
Growth brings traffic, and McEvers said he believes the addition of left-turn lights has helped. “I don’t think that’s something we’re getting rid of,” he said. “I think it’s something that we manage.
McEvers describes himself as financially conservative.
“I don’t fit the mold very well,” he said. “I’m a businessman.”
Mask warrants have been controversial in northern Idaho, and last year city council voted to impose one briefly.
“I voted against because I couldn’t understand how you were going to handle this,” he said. “I don’t think that’s our job. I think it’s a personal choice.
Cross said he had no problem if business owners decide to require masks in their business, but said he doesn’t think the government should make the decision for people in public places . “I think that’s where the line is drawn,” he said.
When city council passed the mandate, Claridge was outside in protest. He said he didn’t think a warrant was in the best interest of the community.
“First of all, they haven’t been proven to help,” he said of the masks, although many studies have shown that they do. “It drove me crazy, and I decided to do something.”
Cross said he would like to see the city increase public participation.
“We don’t really have a way of asking the whole town of Coeur d’Alene what they think are the problems,” he said.
Growth is painful at times, but Cross said he understands why people want to move to Coeur d’Alene. He said he is generally not in favor of high density housing, but if it has to be done, it should be done well.
Cross grew up in Coeur d’Alene and was homeschooled. He attended classes at North Idaho College before earning a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of Idaho.
“I am a serial entrepreneur,” he said. “I have seven websites online that do a lot of stuff. “
Cross said he did drop shipping to Amazon and sold items including t-shirts and iPhone chargers. He also headed the marketing department of Tedder Industries, which manufactures gun accessories, until last year.
He bought a house two years ago and that’s when he started to get interested in politics, he said.
“I believe you start to care a lot more about politics when you anchor yourself,” he said. “This is where I’m going to live. I would like to live here forever as long as it remains heaven.
Claridge said he was worried about the city’s growth. “There is not enough thinking about infrastructure,” he said. “Traffic is a problem. It’s getting worse. I think developers have to pay more for infrastructure, more than they are now.
Infrastructure should include schools and emergency services, in addition to roads and traffic lights, Claridge said.
“These things are currently left to the taxpayers,” he said.
Claridge said he’s coming forward to bring a different perspective to the board.
“I am a supporter of freedom,” he said. “I believe voters should have a say in what goes on in their community. “
He grew up in Spokane Valley and graduated from East Valley High School. He also graduated from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, with a degree in Aeronautical Science with an Electronic concentration, which is a combination of electrical engineering and aeronautical science.
He worked as an aircraft mechanic and aeronautical engineer for several companies before working as an electrical engineer for Quest Aircraft at Sandpoint for 10 years. He was responsible for helping design the Kodiak 100 aircraft. He had his own company, AeroDesign Works, for a few years before co-founding xCraft, a drone company specializing in the X PlusOne, a commercial drone.
Cross said he would bring a younger mindset and tech training to the board. He said he liked McEvers, but ran against him because he is in favor of term limits.
“I think he has the best interests of the city at heart,” he said of McEvers. “I just think he’s been here a long time.”
He said he and Morgan Dixon, who is running for position 2, were like-minded and were running as a team. He said they were not politically affiliated.
“We believe a lot in the Republican side, but we also see a lot of the progressive side coming into Coeur d’Alene,” he said.
Claridge said he plans to generate responsible growth if elected.
“We have to make sure that we don’t tax people outside their homes,” he said. “This community fortunately has a low crime rate, and I want to help keep it that way. “
McEvers said he was considering not running for office because he was getting older, but decided he wanted to stay because the city’s urban renewal district was coming to an end next year. This will mean more taxes entering the city that will need to be allocated to different programs and projects, McEvers said.
“I just want to have a voice in this,” he said.