“Be courageous.” A prominent politician gave this advice to Terri Cooper when Terri shared her intention to run for mayor of Medical Lake. Those two words became an inspiration and propelling force in her decision to run for mayor, contributing to her campaign victory. Terri will reflect on these words often to energize and motivate as she serves her term as mayor of Medical Lake, starting on January 1, 2022.
Courageous is an apt word to describe Terri’s vision for her beloved community of Medical Lake. This vision includes developing Medical Lake economically, specifically, focusing on developing small businesses and promoting tourism. Terri also aims to unify the community based on common needs and shared aspirations that overcome the divisiveness that characterize so many regions these days. She has no doubt that “we can come together on what we agree on.” While Terri brings a wealth of experience of community service with her into her new role, including administrative work in the court system, this was the first time she had officially run for a political office. With the help of countless volunteers and support from the local business community, she won the election. Undoubtedly, her vision of developing Medical Lake played the greatest factor in her victory. Terri literally knocked on every door in Medical Lake and spoke with hundreds in order to prioritize the needs of the community members. One of the themes that came up over and over again was concerns about crime.
Like many small towns near Spokane, Medical Lake has no locally based police department. Instead, Medical Lake is served by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department. Terri has great admiration for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department that serves Medical Lake. “They are great. They take policing very seriously and I appreciate what they are doing.” The problem, however, is that there are not enough of them to meet the policing needs of Medical Lake. The result is that the response time for police is too slow to be effective to counter crime. When a break-in of a house, garage, or car does occur, by the time the Spokane police can respond, it’s too late. This lag in response time, in turn, encourages future crime.
Given this community concern, one of the platforms on which Terri ran was to bring a local police department back to Medical Lake. Terri has no delusions about the complexity of this process and acknowledges it will take time. She’s prepared to take on this project systematically. She plans to research options and gather information about what has worked for other communities. From there, she’ll develop a plan, take on funding issues, then determine how to start and implement the plan. When all of this is completed to her satisfaction, she’ll bring a solid plan to the city council and community to consider.
Terri’s other goals as mayor are projects she’s been actively working towards for years. When Terri and her sister, Gerri Johnson, owner of Farm Salvation, recognized that Medical Lake was continually deteriorating, they felt compelled to action. Adamant that Medical Lake had potential to be so much better, they became dedicated to service towards a revitalized Medical Lake. The sisters “imagined” a thriving downtown, economic development, support for small businesses, increased tourism, and historical preservation. In 2015, Terri and Gerri founded the nonprofit organization ReImagine Medical Lake, with the aim “to create a vibrant, local community…promote economic and community revitalization while honoring the history of Medical Lake.” (http://medicallake.org/).
ReImagine Medical Lake has made great strides towards its goals. However, Terri soon realized that “what local government does is integral” and can achieve even more than their nonprofit. Terri’s community service with ReImagine Medical Lake, thus, became her impetus for running for local office.
Other factors that inspired her political aims are deep rooted in her personal history. Terri credits her life-long love affair with Medical Lake to her father’s military service. Her family came to the region in the early 70s when her father was stationed at Fairchild Airforce Base. It didn’t take long for Terri to feel connected to the community. “I fell in love with the beauty and the people” of the area, says Terri.
Other experiences have also influenced Terri’s devotion to serving her small-town community. “I’ve always worked in a small town.” As a court administrator, Terri not only developed skills in finance and budgeting, but realized her strong sense of justice, fairness, and impartiality. These values are what drive her towards unification within the community where she’s confident “we can blend our ideas for changes that help all of us.”
Terri humbly acknowledges that the success of her campaign resulted from the support of so many who contributed their time, talents, and resources. In addition to the volunteers who canvassed neighborhoods to share Terri’s vision with the community, she’s also grateful to all the local businesses who supported her by displaying campaign signs and promoting her ideas to their customers.
Terri also expresses immense gratitude to the many individuals who helped catapult her to campaign victory. Terri’s campaign manager was none other than her sister and co-founder of ReImagine Medical Lake, Gerri Johnson. Terri also thanks her outreach coordinator, Reggie Heebink, and her treasurer, Russ Brown. Additional appreciation goes to her social media manager, Erin Bishop, videographer Sean Lizama, photographer Karen Swift, and her web designer, Ryan Stemkowski, whom she fondly describes as her “web master.” As a successful campaign depends heavily on financial support, Terri offers a huge “thank you” to all the friends and family, both local and out of state, who contributed donations that financed her campaign.
Finally, Terri has utmost appreciation for other elected officials who supported her and the encouragement from the community that not only inspired her to run for office but helped usher in her success.
Join me in congratulating Terri on her victory and wishing her great luck in achieving her noble goals for Medical Lake. I wish her great success and have no doubt she will always continue to be courageous.