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Voters in Spokane County cities pick general election participants

Voters in Airway Heights and Cheney have approved ballot measures, while patrons in several Spokane County municipalities and school districts have chosen the candidates for elected office they want to consider again in November.

In Airway Heights, voters said yes to two propositions, one that would annex the city into the Spokane County Library District. That received about 70% support. The second allows the city to sell up to $8 million in bonds to buy and renovate an existing building to serve as a new fire station. That had more than 77% of the vote.

The city sold the library measure as a move that improves both library and fire services without raising taxes. Officials say taxpayer money for library services that is now routed first through the city would instead go straight to the library district. They say that would save the city enough money to hire four firefighters to serve in what is now an all-volunteer fire department.

The second measure will improve the facilities in which those firefighters work and live. Chief Mitch Metzger says the current facility, built in 1968 and renovated several times since, is barely large enough to house modern-day fire trucks and serve a rapidly-growing city in which the number of calls has increased by 50% over the last five years.

The department has repurposed utility rooms into storage areas for fire gear. The firefighters sleep in small bedrooms that offer little privacy. The bathrooms are located right off the bay where the trucks are parked and after fires are not ADA compliant.

Metzger says the city has bought an option on a larger building several blocks away. That will take some retrofitting to turn it into a modern fire station.

The measure allows the city to sell up to eight million dollars in bonds to pay for that renovation. City officials say taxpayers with home worth $300,000 will pay an extra $110 per year.

New pool for Cheney

In Cheney, about 67% of voters approved a bond issue to renovate and reopen the city’s municipal aquatics facility.

The pool, along with amenities such as a lazy river and slides, will be built on the site of the existing outdoor facility that was closed two years ago due to mechanical failures and other issues related to age.

Officials had proposed the city of Cheney sell $13 million in bonds to finance the project.

City Administrator Mark Schiller says a local architectural firm has designed the project.

“There are two tanks,” he said. “One would be for lap swim and the other would contain the small lazy river and then more of a recreational-style pool with a zero depth entry to accommodate those who might have mobility challenges.”

Schiller said during the campaign that, if the measure passes, the city hopes to open the facility by the summer of 2025. If it doesn’t pass, the city will look at revising the plan and resubmit it to voters later.

Four fire districts ask for voter approval

Voters in two Spokane County fire districts approved levies to supplement their existing funding, while voters in two other districts have apparently defeated levies. Patrons in Districts 3 and 10 said yes; voters in Districts 5 and 13 said no.

Voters narrow the field in fire district races

In the Spokane Valley Fire Department, two retired firefighters look like they’ve been chosen to run for a seat on the department’s board of commissioners. Rick Freier has advanced to the November general election ballot. George Orr narrowly leads former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite for the second spot on the ballot.

Freier served as a fire investigator before he retired for medical reasons after 24 years in the fire service. Orr served 34 years with the department. During the early 1990s, he also served two terms as a Democratic state representative.

Voters in Fire District 4 also narrowed the field for a commissioner board seat for November, picking Jack Hensley and Chris Aronson from a field of three candidates. Hensley took 40% of vote, Aronson 39%.

School board contests set for November

Voters have set the matchups for November school board elections in several Spokane County districts.

One Spokane Public Schools seat was whittled to two candidates, with the incumbent board president, Mike Wiser, facing a challenge from Ericka Lalka. Wiser won 57% of the vote, Lalka 34%.

In the Medical Lake School District, 17 candidates filed for four seats. Voters determined Gerri Johnson and Lennelle Spillman will run for the right to fill the last two years of an unexpired term in District 1. In District 2, Michael Gerry and Alexis Alexander were the top vote-getters in a field of six candidates. In District 3, the incumbent, Laura Elliot Parsons, finished first among four candidates. Dennis Schilling will be her opponent in November. In District 4, the incumbent, Ron Cooper, will run against the second-place finisher, Mark Hudson.

Cheney School District patrons narrowed two races. John Boerger and Bill Hanson appear to be the finalists in District 4. An incumbent, Mitch Swenson, was the clear winner, with Ivan Khala holding a narrow lead for the second spot in District 5.

In the Deer Park School District, five candidates competed for one seat. Eric Keller and Richard Price look to be the top two vote-getters.

The one contested West Valley School District race will have the first-place finisher, Amy Anselmo, against the runner-up, S. John Dubois.

In the Rosalia School District, Lisa McGuire and Terry Larson have apparently emerged from the group of three candidates.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.