Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has her first official opponent in this year’s mayoral race.
Christopher W. Fenton, 32, filed paperwork last month announcing his intention to run for the city’s highest office.
Fenton, who works as a lab analyst at Signature Genomics in Spokane, said he began to think about running for mayor after the Spokane Police Department did not respond to three calls in 2009 reporting vandalism happening in the Logan Neighborhood, where he lives.
He said the lack of response is a sign that the city is not adequately serving its citizens and that more police officers need to be hired. He also said he is concerned about the city’s bond debt – including debt approved by voters that was accompanied by property tax increases to pay it off.
Federal records indicate that Fenton has personal experience with debt. He and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2003 owing creditors $58,000.
Fenton said if elected he would work to speed up paying off the city’s bond debt by selling city property. He said he hasn’t identified any specific city-owned parcels that should be sold.
Crime statistics, he said, show that crime is increasing in nearly every category.
"I believe the city is heading down the wrong path and needs a change in direction," he said.
FBI crime statistics for Spokane show that property crime was up in 2009, the last year FBI statistics are available. In 2007, the FBI said there were 56.5 property crimes per 1,000 Spokane residents. That number was 64 per 1,000 residents in 2009. Those numbers, however, are significantly lower than a decade ago when the city’s property crime rate was about 80 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Violent crime in the city fell in 2009 from 6.6 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2008 to 6.2 in 2009. The rate was 6.5 in 2007.
Fenton is virtually unknown in Spokane’s political circles. He said he considers himself an independent. He has never attended a Spokane City Council meeting or a meeting of the Logan Neighborhood Council but says that he is a serious contender in the mayoral race and will raise money for the campaign.
After moving to Spokane about eight years ago, Fenton earned a bachelor’s in biochemistry from Whitworth University. He graduated from Brewster High School in 1998.
Fenton, who is married and has two children, owned and operated Xtreme Jet Ski Rental & Parts in Brewster. He said the main part of the business was repair work of boats, ATVs, motorcycles and that he and his wife declared bankruptcy after some of his customers didn’t pay bills and he got behind on debt payments.