Colville elects Ralph Lane Jr. as new mayor

RaeLynn Ricarte

Ralph Lane Jr. had just gotten home from his granddaughter's orchestra performance in the Tri-Cities on Nov. 5 when he learned that he had just been elected as Colville's new mayor.
“My brother-in-law texted me and said he saw in the Statesman-Examiner that I had won,” said Lane, who challenged 5-year incumbent Louis Janke for the position.
“It felt very good, very positive,” said Lane “There are so many things that I want to do to make Colville better for the people who live here, the ones who write the checks.”
He and Janke agreed to run a clean campaign and Lane thanked the mayor for living out that agreement.
He said the two men approached the job of mayor from different perspectives but he believed Janke, like himself, had the best interests of the city at heart.
“I'm going to ask him if I can get his opinion on things in the future because of his experience,” said Lane. Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke endorsed Lane during the race and said the city will be well served with him at the helm.
“I have known Ralph for 20 years and he is a good man who works well with others and gets things done,” said Manke.
Lane said it was humbling to have the support of Manke and the electorate.
“I am grateful because I see the election results as the voters telling me they want something different. I think they know that the stuff I want to do won't be flashy, but it will be appropriate,” he said. “I've been shown so much kindness and so much respect, this has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.”
Janke said said the low voter turnout was “extremely disappointing,” but that he has appreciated the opportunity to serve the city and, hopefully, move it forward.
“There are a lot of things started and not sure where they will go from here,” he said. “I deeply appreciate the city staff, their dedication and hard work, often dealing with complaints and changing needs with limited budgets.
Janke also praised the city council, saying they were “a dedicated group of volunteers who are challenged with some hard decisions and always work hard to be informed.”
He urged citizens to stay informed and seek out facts about city issues. He also urged them to serve on boards, council or volunteer for focused activities.
“I will miss leading Colville and wish the new mayor well,” said Janke.
None of the city council positions were challenged, so the only new face at the table will be Greg Chambers, who replaces Missy Stalp. Councilors Anne Lawson, Chris Loggers and Adenea Thompson were re-elected. They join Jack Smith, Nancy Foll and Mallory Conner on the dais.
Lane’s priority when he takes over in January will be “needs” over “wants.” By that, he means that fixing roads, replacing aging water and sewer lines, and removing undesirable minerals from the water delivery system will be more of a focus than aesthetic projects.
As an example, he is against taking away parking spaces in the downtown corridor for more landscaped areas near Heritage Court.
“I”m not in favor,” said Lane. “We would just be engineering more maintenance headaches, the street would be narrower and businesses would lose parking for customers.
“In addition, snow removal would be a nightmare, worse than it already is.”
Lane, 63, sees his 25 years of experience in government service as an advantage in the role of mayor.
He spent two decades of that time in the city's Public Works department and worked his way up to supervisor of the wastewater treatment plant. He held certifications in water quality and wastewater treatment.
Lane then took the job of general manager for the Odell Sanitation District in Hood River County, Oregon, until his retirement in 2014.
That position provided him with administrative experience.
Because of his background, Lane believes it is possible to tackle infrastructure projects more efficiently and with greater cost-savings.
He is very interested in exploring ways to make operation of the popular splash park more cost-effective so that it can be open more days per week during the hot summer months.
“I'm so excited, I can't wait to get started,” he said.

Find more on this story in the Nov. 13 issue of The Statesman-Examiner.