Today on the Inland Journal podcast, the results from Tuesday’s Spokane County election, including the city of Spokane’s mayor’s race and four city council races.
We start with the mayor’s race where retired television newscaster Nadine Woodward won the primary, winning more than 42% of the vote. Second place went to city council president Ben Stuckart, with more than 37%.
Woodward said she believes the voters trust her as a candidate, and apparently are not concerned about her lack of political experience.
“I’ve said since the beginning of this race that I believe it was about trust and it wasn’t about political experience,” Woodward said. “I’ve been criticized because I don’t have political experience but I don’t think political experience is the best experience. I think this race is about who you trust to be your next leader. I’ve said before I’ve been immersed in Spokane issues for 28 years and in a position of public trust and I think people want to trust their politicians.”
She said that public safety will be her main priority, and also made reference to Spokane’s homeless issue.
“For the people that are homeless that want help they need to get the help they need,” she said. “But we can no longer be a city that’s a magnet for homeless people from other parts of the country or even parts of the region coming here for our free services. We’re a compassionate community and we have a lot of programs that enable. But our citizens, our hardworking taxpayers don’t make enough money to support everyone who wants to come here and live a transient, addicted lifestyle. But those that want help, they need to get help.”
Woodward says she is looking forward to the race with Stuckart. She says the candidates hold clearly defined and, in many cases, distinctly different positions.
She says she expects the campaign will get negative in the debate between the two, but welcomes the opportunity to challenge Stuckart on his record.
Stuckart, for his part, says he’s disappointed he didn’t win the primary, but says he welcomes the opportunity to debate with his opponent as the race heats up, and hopes to have a serious dialogue on many issues, including homelessness and housing.
“My opponent has said, very specifically, that we should be subsidizing housing developments outside the city and I think those debates should have been done 20 years ago,” he said. “We’re not going to use citizen taxpayer dollars to spread out. We should be building up inside the city and that’s what makes for stronger neighborhoods.”
Stuckart says he also disagrees with Woodward’s assertion that Spokane has become a destination for homeless people seeking services. He calls her support for improved public safety ‘ironic”, given his own record of beefing up the Spokane Police Department during his time on the council.
“I just think I’ve been the champion for more police officers. We’ve hired 52 since I’ve been in office. I’ve championed those. I’ve championed the public safety levy,” he said.
City firefighter Shawn Poole finished third in the race with more than 11% of the vote. Jonathan Bingle and Kelly Cruz were fourth and fifth.
In the race for city council president, current councilman Breean Beggs won the primary, gathering 35% of the vote in defeating three opponents. The second place finisher, who will also move on to the general election, is Cindy Wendle. She won almost 31% of the vote.
Beggs says he believes he has the edge because of his experience in office.
“I think it’s going to come down to who can solve problems and bring people together. And who has the relationships with people, the county commissioners, and the police and fire,” he said. “I think it will come down to who can keep the momentum going, who can solve the issues. We’re reducing crime and solving homelessness, and I’m really looking forward to having that discussion.” Beggs says both Wendle and mayoral hopeful Nadine Woodward have said they don’t have specific plans, but are willing to listen to the citizens for input on ideas.
We weren’t able to reach Wendle Tuesday night, but she has positioned herself as a problem solver and candidate without the record and political baggage of Beggs and Mike Fagan, the two council members in the race. Fagan finished third in the race with about 26% of the vote. Phillip Tyler finished fourth.
You’re listening to a post-primary election Inland Journal podcast.
There were three other city council races on the city of Spokane ballot Tuesday.
Councilwoman Lori Kinnear posted a solid showing in the South district race.
The one-term council member won 59% of the vote in a three-way contest. She’ll face health care consultant Tony Kiepe in the November general election.
Kinnear says voters seem to like the job she and the current council are doing.
“When I look at the shape the city’s in and all the hard work that this council and this administration has done to make sure that we have thrived as a city, there is a lot of building going on and good things are happening to Spokane and I think people recognize that," Kinnear said.
Tony Kiepe says there are a handful of issues that voters he talked with want the council to work on.
“The key issue is the road infrastructure. Why do we have so many streets that aren’t paved on the South Hill? They want to see action there," Kiepe said. "And they’re concerned about the homeless moving up toward 29th and 57th. You see homeless this far up on the South Hill coming up here now and panhandling. What can we do different about the homeless situation?”
Real estate agent Liz Fleming finished third in the race with 17% of the vote.
In the Northwest district, Councilwoman Karen Stratton won a six-way primary race for the seat she holds.
Stratton won more than 48% of the vote, about double the percentage of the second place finisher, retired Air Force navigator Andy Rathbun.
Stratton says the results shows voters in her district think she’s doing a good job representing them. She says public safety and homelessness are the top issues she heard from homeowners on their doorsteps. But a third issue also got plenty of attention.
“If you’ve spent time in West Central and some parts of the Emerson Garfield neighborhood, they have some really old, old streets and old alleys, especially West Central. There are some alleys that are so bad that people don’t drive them through them anymore," she said. "So we really have to find a way to get some funding for those types of projects.”
Rathbun says homelessness was the top issue he heard from voters.
“There’s no one answer for this problem, just a coordinated effort with all the help and then trying to go after the root causes and help to pull people up, back into society, instead of just letting them flounder is what a lot of people want to see," he said.
Third place in the Northwest race went to state investigator Jeff Martin with 12.6% of the vote. Ken Side, Christopher Savage and Jeff Rugan finished fourth, fifth and sixth.
And in the Northeast, It’s a tight race.
Tim Benn, who has been a leader in the Minnehaha neighborhood for many years, is leading by a slim margin over political consultant Michael Cathcart. Benn has 24.7% of the vote after the first wave of ballots were counted; Cathcart has 23.9%.
Benn has run unsuccessfully for the council and state legislature, but he was feeling good about winning a seven-candidate primary. He says the voters recognized that he’s been the candidate who’s lived longest in the district.
“We’ve served the community for a long time here and done a lot of work out there in the community and talking to people during the campaign cycle, so it’s good. We still have a lot of ballots to count though, so we’ll see how things hold," Benn said.
He says public safety and streets are among the most pressing concerns for people in the district.
Cathcart agrees with that and adds homelessness to the list.
Cathcart formerly worked for the Spokane Homebuilders Association and has consulted on local campaigns for several years. He thinks that experience will serve him well in November’s general election.
“You know, I’m really proud of my background and what I bring to the table in terms of housing policy and getting tougher on crime and getting law enforcement what they need and just big on accountability for the homeless spending. So I really think that the voters are going to see which candidate is prepared and ready to step in on day one and be a good strong advocate for northeast Spokane and I think that’s me,” Cathcart said.
Naghmana Sherazi finished third in the race with 17% of the vote. Jerrall Haynes, Doug Salter, Krys Brown and Louis Lefebvre finished fourth through seventh.
Finally, we’ll touch on two other races on the ballot in Spokane County, both tax measures.
Voters countywide said yes — by a more than two-to-one margin — to a proposal to continue a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales tax to pay for criminal justice programs in Spokane County.
The vote was much closer for a county library district property tax levy. The district is allowed to collect up to 50-cents-per-thousand dollars of assessed valuation. Over the last 10 years or so, that has fallen to 43 cents, because of inflation and other reasons. The district wanted to reset the tax at 50 cents.
The measure is passing after the first day of counting ballots, but it isn’t a rousing success. About 53-percent of the voters have said yes.
Library District spokeswoman Jane Baker says administrators are holding their breath.
“We’re looking forward to when they’re certified and the rest of the counting begins, but we are very encouraged and cautiously optimistic, but encouraged," Baker said.
If the measure doesn’t pass, library officials say they may have to cut programs and reduce hours.
You’ve been listening to a special post-election Inland Journal.
On Thursday’s podcast, we visit the home of an organization that helps homeless men in Spokane who have drug and alcohol addictions.
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