Somontes seeks Cd'A council seat

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COEUR d'ALENE - A 44-year-old gas station cashier is running for Coeur d'Alene City Council, saying not enough people in the service industry are represented on the commission.

Annastasia Somontes, a native of San Jose, Calif., who moved to the Lake City 14 years ago, is running for the open Seat 3 in her first attempt at any elected post.

She's gearing her campaign at representing people in the service industries who struggle to make ends meet.

"I want to represent the service worker, the dirty work, the people nobody wants to talk about," Somontes said. "I want to make sure they have a little representation."

It's important, she said, because Coeur d'Alene has so many service industries in the tourist-heavy area, and what constitutes minor amounts of money to city officials and white collar workers can be burdensome increases that break the economic back of the working class.

Most bumps in fees or tax increases can be crippling, said Somontes, who has worked as a cashier at Jifi Stop for two years.

"It's not a little bit of money," she said of any proposed 'minor increase.' "What's important is what it translates to in the shallow economic pocket. That doesn't translate into a little bit of money for us. Little bumps are actually a lot for the average folks."

Along those lines, cityemployees shouldn't be given pay raises and merit increases, she said. If elected, she said she'll try to negotiate ways to prevent city employees from getting any annual increase.

"I find it kind of interesting that public employees don't get paid enough because I wonder if any of them would want to trade paychecks with me," she said. "It just seems a little much."

The political newcomer said she decided to run for the seat after the City Council adopted the McEuen Field conceptual plan this spring, a plan she opposed. That proposed park design drew a lot of support and rejection from the public, but Somontes said the plan didn't represent the people's voice.

"We can't afford this nonsense," she said, favoring putting the design to a public vote. "Not to mention, it's against the people's will."

"That's an ax to grind I have," she said.

She favors the City Council exercising more oversight over urban renewal, and would do so if elected, she said. Somontes is not married and does not have children.

She called herself an underdog candidate for the open seat. Derec Aujay, Dan Gookin, Patrick Mitchell and George Sayler also are running. Incumbent Al Hassell is not seeking re-election. Somontes said she will not raise money or accept donations during the campaign.

She attended Mission College in Santa Clara for a while, but did not graduate.

"I just want some questions asked, like why is so much money spent?" she said. "Sometimes all you can hope for is to be listened to for five minutes."

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