COEUR d'ALENE - The City Council debate for Seat No. 4, between Woody McEvers, Amber Copeland and Sharon Hebert, was arguably the most entertaining of the evening.
McEvers, the only incumbent running for council, got the crowd laughing right out of the gate when he was asked why he was qualified to run.
"I don't think anyone is qualified for this job," he said. "I have experience."
He said the reality is that people need to be positive and care about what they are doing.
"I think every person in this room is qualified for the job," Copeland said, adding she represents the under-represented community. "I am not your typical City Council candidate. I think I proved that last time. I believe I was referenced as the Saturday Night Live portion of the candidate forum."
Hebert said she is a concerned citizen and that qualifies her for the job. She cares about the city and believes that people have a right to a voice.
Candidates were also asked when it is appropriate to hold a public vote.
"That's a can of worms isn't it?" Copeland said. "A public vote is wildly unrealistic for everything that everyone doesn't agree on."
She said it would have to be a situational decision based on the circumstances for her.
Hebert said when it is an extraordinary project, such as McEuen Field, the public should be consulted.
"If it costs a lot of money it should be put to a bond, so the people can choose if they want to finance it," Hebert said.
McEvers said it's all about the bonding the way he understands the rules.
"As far as McEuen goes, extraordinary, necessary, how do we define that?" he said. "Come up with a good plan, let's spin it around, but right now that is the way it goes."
The candidates were asked to explain what criteria they would use to determine what constitutes extraordinary, and require a public vote.
McEvers said take McEuen, where people claim they weren't involved, even though the city held more than 100 meetings and set the money aside for the project in 1997.
"What makes it extraordinary? Is it the dollars?" he asked. "It would be tough to do a sewer treatment plant that way."
He said that project cost $32 million and that is pretty normal stuff for a councilman, but he said he is willing to talk about it if someone has a good way to determine that.
Copeland said there is no black and white answer to that problem. She said it isn't realistic to gauge public outcry as a true reflection of the community.
Hebert said when people have to give extra money to support the situation they ought to be consulted.
As for the Lake City Development Corp., both McEvers and Copeland felt it serves a purpose for economic development in the community, but Hebert said she would favor disbanding the urban renewal district.
"I don't think it should have any role. It may be legal, but I don't think it is right," she said, adding she would vote to disband it because it is not accountable to anybody.
The full debate was broadcast of Coeur d'Alene Cable Channel 19, and it will re-run on that channel periodically until the election on Nov. 5.