Miller: Rallying for citizen involvement - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Miller: Rallying for citizen involvement

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Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 10:05 am, Fri Oct 18, 2013.

COEUR d'ALENE - Kiki Miller graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School in 1978 and has managed to stay and make a living here ever since.

She hopes, as a parent of a 15-year-old son, that she can keep the city moving forward from an economic development standpoint so her family can make a living here as well.

"I feel the need to invest in positive growth because I am at that age where, yeah, we want to have our families together," she said, adding that has shaped her opinion on urban renewal.

"If we are coasting, we are going downhill," she said. "We have to maintain that forward momentum and urban renewal is the only thing that I have been educated on, to date, that we can do it with."

Miller calls urban renewal a "complicated beast," but it is the only tool of its kind that the state allows cities to use for economic revitalization.

Despite its complexities, she said the Lake City Development Corporation, which manages the city's urban renewal districts, should have communicated its mission better when it was first established.

"My criticism with LCDC is they didn't come out soon enough with what their long-term investment plans were and let the general public know," she said. "I think they got attacked on specific issues when they were not all as sinister as they have been made out to be."

Had LCDC been promoting its accomplishments, the agency might have been able to avoid being maligned by certain groups, Miller said.

"If another tool came along to replace urban renewal, I would be all ears," she said. "But, for now, I cannot see, as a council person, taking away something that allows us to be economically competitive with our neighboring communities and neighboring states."

Miller said if she is elected she will work to align LCDC's goals with the goals of the community.

"That's what I like about the Vision 2030 Project," she said. "I personally might not want blue umbrellas on every corner, but if the doggone entire community comes back and says we want blue umbrellas on every corner, then we need to focus the taxpayers' dollars into that project."

The Vision 2030 Project is a envisioning process led by the University of Idaho. It is designed to gather citizen input on what they want the community to look like by 2030.

"I think the community's wants should be coupled into what the LCDC's functions are," she said. "It's an investment strategy for the community - that's what the tool is - and I think it is going to pay for itself in spades in the future."

Miller never aspired to become a city council member but after talking with a number of friends and colleagues, she realized that she has something to contribute.

"I basically said, yeah, I do have a lot to offer in city leadership," she said. "I do have an investment in this community and I do want to see positive things happen. That's how I got started doing this. I said, OK, this is good, I am in."

Her position on McEuen Field and the anti-discrimination ordinance is pretty much the same. She said those decisions have already been made, and she prefers to focus her energy on the future.

"I wasn't involved in all the data, all the facts and all the reasons why the current administration did what they did, so I am not going to second guess what my vote would have been," she said, referring to McEuen Field. "It's going to be a great park, but I am more focused on this: I'm going to be a council person during the finishing of that project. My job is going to be making sure the taxpayers are getting what they are paying for, that it opens on time as promised."

Miller said she lived in Coeur d'Alene during the Aryan Nations bombings and was evacuated from the Coeur d'Alene Press building when an Aryan-backed bomb threat was made.

"That was a scary time in this community," she said. "I don't even want, under my watch, to have this community viewed as anything less than fair and respectful to all of its citizens."

She understands that the city's anti-discrimination ordinance is emotionally charged, but that decision has been made and Miller would not favor rescinding the ordinance.

Miller said she has not read through the city's salary survey, but from the information she has gathered, she is certain the next council will be addressing salaries.

"The council is going to have to look hard at those salaries and determine if indeed there are changes that need to be made," she said. "There are a lot of folks retiring. If there are some new and creative ways to structure those positions when those people leave, then that would be the charge of the council to take a hard look at that.

"It's a big deal, but I think it can be done within the budget and fairly."

Miller started Kagey Company - a small publishing and event planning company - in 1990. She has been very active in the Chamber of Commerce and can often be found volunteering for a number of small community projects.

"I have been involved with so many little projects in this town that have kind of been in the background," she said. "These are things where I have just seen a need to get something done. You know, all those number two things."

She said most of her free time is now spent out in the community campaigning. She plans to spend $2,000 of her own money and anything else she can raise to get her word out, but mostly her campaign is focused on getting people out to vote.

"I've been putting most of my energy into that," she said. "It is time for everyone to step up and say, you know, let's get involved here."

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