Not surprisingly, the campaign of David Condon is taking full advantage of the endorsement he got from former Spokane County Democratic Chairman Tom Keefe. Keefe is featured in the Condon TV ad above and is the first endorsement listed on a Condon mailer that arrived at homes this week.
Condon, the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been working to distance himself from the Republican label, though McMorris Rodgers recently headlined a fundraiser for his campaign.
Meanwhile, Verner's campaign has a released a statement from the current chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party, David Smith. He addresses the Otto Zehm matter, which is the issue that Keefe said pursuaded him to back Condon.
"Mary Verner was not mayor when Otto Zehm died. She was sworn into office a full eighteen months after his death. She could have chosen to augment her political capital by joining in the public condemnation of Officer Thompson," Smith said. " Instead, despite her professed grief for the family of Otto Zehm, she chose to accept the political risk inherent in standing up for Officer Thompson’s right to a fair trial. Doing so took courage. Standing up for the constitution always does."
Here is Smith's full statement responding to Keefe's endorsement:
Puzzlement has arisen due to Tom Keefe’s endorsement of Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ former aide, David Condon, over the endorsed candidate of the Spokane County Democratic Party. As such, I have been asked to clarify that the Spokane County Democrats have endorsed, and continue to endorse, Mayor Mary Verner.
Mary Verner is one of the hardest working public servants that I have ever encountered. It seems that no matter where I turn in this community, the mayor is there. She manages to exquisitely carry out the executive functions of a strong mayor while still performing the ceremonial duties that Spokane citizens grew to expect from a mayor during our many years in a city manager form of government. In Mary Verner, we have obtained the best of both worlds. I, for one, am voting to retain the sense of balance that she has brought to city hall.
Tom Keefe is a good man and a good Democrat. Mary Verner is a good woman and a good Democrat. Tom Keefe is entitled to his opinion and, as a citizen, is entitled to cross party lines to vote for Mr. Condon. As a Democrat, as our chair, and as a citizen, I have the right to honor party lines and vote for our endorsee. I encourage you to do likewise. Mary Verner’s service to this city warrants her reelection.
Like all of us, Tom Keefe wants a resolution to the Otto Zehm tragedy. Tom wants Otto Zehm to receive the justice he deserves. I agree; but electing David Condon will not achieve that goal. Justice will be administered by the courts while the mayor will administer to the daily needs of our citizenry. Mayor Verner has proven to be quite adept at carrying out the duties of mayor.
Keefe, featured in a television ad referencing allegations made by an assistant attorney in the federal prosecution of Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson, argues that Condon will remove a “cloud” from over City Hall. Good rhetoric, but an unsound argument. Citation to a legal brief, of an attorney’s statements and arguments, hardly constitutes a cloud over city hall.
As an unelected candidate, Condon is free to say whatever he thinks will get him elected. However, as the mayor of Spokane, Mary Verner is responsible both to the city and to its employees. That includes Officer Karl Thompson. No doubt aware that as an attorney herself, Mayor Verner would take the “high road” and avoid making comments regarding an ongoing federal prosecution, Condon has been free to make statements without fear of being held to task.
It takes a quiet, honest and intense sense of justice, as well as a constant and firm sense of courage, to assure that a man who has been condemned by public opinion is guaranteed his constitutional rights. Although Spokane screams to receive justice for Otto Zehm, we cannot forget that Officer Thompson is also entitled to his day in court.
Mary Verner was not mayor when Otto Zehm died. She was sworn into office a full eighteen months after his death. She could have chosen to augment her political capital by joining in the public condemnation of Officer Thompson. Instead, despite her professed grief for the family of Otto Zehm, she chose to accept the political risk inherent in standing up for Officer Thompson’s right to a fair trial. Doing so took courage. Standing up for the constitution always does.
In the final analysis, it is up to each us to decide whether Mayor Verner’s record during her first four years warrants reelection. In a recent article in The Inlander, EWU Professor Robert Herold states the following about Mayor Verner,
But here’s the thing: First, she has been a competent mayor, given to deliberation and rational decision-making — qualities not in huge supply around here. And second? Well, what she managed to pull off this past year on the budget-reduction front was nothing short of a political and administrative miracle.
Facing eight — count them, eight — union contract renewals, and needing to make the deepest cuts in Spokane history, she managed to navigate through this impossible job with nary a slip. Can you imagine the odds of getting through this minefield alive? While cutting the budget?
Verner's greatest strength is her temperament. The woman doesn’t get rattled. Her self-possession reflects a deeply held personal commitment to deliberation and transparency, which sometimes leads to the appearance of change at glacial speed. She is, indeed, a quiet-waters-run-deep kind of person.
Robert Herold, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, October 5, 2011 (emphasis in original).
Please join me in keeping a good Democrat in office. We need Mayor Verner now, more than ever.
Chair, Spokane Democrats