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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Al French

Mapping the vote: County Commissioner race

In the Spokane County commissioner's race, challenger Mary Lou Johnson is winning the city of Spokane, and incumbent Al French is winning almost everything else.

As the map of the Tuesday vote totals shows, Johnson did well inside the city limits of Spokane and some Cheney precincts. But that wasn't enough to overcome the lead French piled up in the Spokane Valley, the suburbs north and south of Spokane, the West Plains and the rural areas.

For an enlarged, detailed map, click on the document below.


Documents:

Commissioner candidates trade well-worn barbs at Valley debate

Al French and Mary Lou Johnson used the “Rally in the Valley” debate at Central Valley High School on Monday night to continue policy position and leadership style attacks that have defined the race since the two emerged victorious from the August primary.

Here's a look at some of those claims, and the facts that support or dispute them.

Claim 1: Johnson attacks French's public records request of Spokane city government as evidence of blustery style.

In April, French submitted a public records request to the Spokane City Council requesting documents and legal basis for discussions about the expansion of the urban growth boundary. You can read that document here.

Johnson drew the crowd's attention Monday night to a headline from Spokesman-Review columnist Shawn Vestal, who called French's records request “an attempt to annoy, chasten and insult those who disagree with him.”

“Good leaders lead by example … another thing good leaders don't do is lash out or alienate other elected officials,” Johnson said, before referencing the opinion column.

French defended his request Monday, saying he filed the request because city council members were deceiving citizens in comments at a public meeting.

“As an 8-year City Councilman for the city of Spokane, I knew the information that they were telling the public was factually inaccurate,” French said. “And the only way to prove that to the public was to do a public records request and have them back up their statements with facts. Which, to this day, they have yet to do.”

The Spokane City Council provided records later Tuesday, after publication of this blog, that the records request has been suspended at the request of French and county attorney, Jim Emacio. The records request was suspended in April 2014.

To read the rest of this item, or comment, go inside the blog.

Johnson denies disclosure allegations

Mary Lou Johnson said she's complying with state laws regarding campaign finance disclosure after a complaint was filed targeting a recent television ad and mailings.

Michael Cathcart, government affairs director at the Spokane Home Builders Association, sent a copy of his complaint to the Spokesman-Review last week. The Association has donated $900 to and endorsed Al French, the incumbent Republican and former real estate broker.

The complaint, which Johnson said she had not seen Monday, alleges the Democrat violated the rules of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission by not including a spoken statement of her party affiliation in a recent television ad. A guide to political advertising sent out by the disclosure commission in July states candidates should “clearly speak the sponsor’s name and any party preference” in broadcast advertisements. A similar complaint was lodged by backers of incumbent state Sen. Michael Baumgartner against his opponent, Rich Cowan, last week, prompting both Johnson and Cowan to say they'd be adding audio to address the issue in their ads.

Cathcart also alleges Johnson has failed to report the expenses of filming that ad, the amount she's paid to have it aired and the expenses tied to a mailer that began arriving in the county last week. The most recent due date for expense reports was Tuesday, when candidates were required to disclose all expenses and contributions since Oct. 13.

Johnson said the campaign ad was an in-kind contribution, for which she received a receipt Oct. 14. She wrote a check for the mailer postage costs the next day, then the costs of printing the mailers on Thursday, she said.

“We've been really, really careful,” Johnson said.

Cathcart said via email he had not spoken with French about the complaint, but had informed his campaign manager.

French has reported TV and radio ad buys totaling more than $23,000, running from now through Election Day. He's also spent more than $2,600 on print advertisements, including in the Spokesman-Review, according to public disclosure reports.

The next reporting date is Oct. 28, just seven days before the general election. French defeated Johnson by fewer than 300 votes in a three-way primary that included just the third district of the county. All Spokane County voters will receive a ballot for the general election, which French believes will boost his support.

Mager endorses Johnson in County Commission race

In an unsurprising move, former County Commissioner Bonnie Mager endorsed Democrat Mary Lou Johnson on Tuesday in her bid to unseat GOP incumbent Al French in the November election.

Mager, who finished third in the August primary as an independent, served as a Democrat on the commission from 2006 to 2010. She was unseated by French, a former Spokane City Council member, in the 2010 general election.

Johnson's campaign announced the endorsement in an email Tuesday morning. The campaign said Mager had encouraged her supporters to back Johnson in the November general election.

The incumbent defeated his Democratic challenger by just 222 votes in the primary, but Mager carried an additional 8,000 ballots and the general election is open to voters countywide while the primary included only ballots cast in the county's third district. In the primary, fewer than 30,000 votes were cast; that number will likely quintuple in the general election.

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Problem for county pot growers

Spokane County commissioners may have thrown a wrench into the plans of some would-be marijuana growers hoping to set up in unincorporated parts of the county.

An interim zoning ordinance approved Monday says anyone growing recreational marijuana will have to be on at least eight acres, with plenty of space between the fields or buildings and the property lines. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

French named to MRSC post

Spokane County Commissioner Al French has been elected secretary of the board of directors of the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington. That puts him on track to become vice president in 2014 and president in 2015.

French in a news release said he will be working on issues and programs cut costs in government and improve service to citizens. He also serves on the board of the Washington State Association of Counties.

MRSC provides consultation, research and information technology services to government agencies in the state.

Waldref cruises to Bloomsday win

Congratulations to Councilwoman Amber Waldref, this year's top Bloomsday finisher among elected leaders (at least among those whose time we checked).

She easily beat out the rest of her City Council cohorts, though in defense of the others, she is the youngest elected official we located who ran the race.

Spin Control also offers the following trophy-less awards:

Participation Award: The Spokane County Commission. All three members finished the race. They are a shining example to the legislators serving the Third Legislative District. None of them completed the race even though the race is in their district.

Doomsday Hill Award: Jon Snyder, barely beat out Michael Baumgartner for the fastest time up Pettet Drive.

Here are the finishers we found. They are a bit slower than last year when former county commissioner and mountain climber John Roskelley ran the race.

In parenthesis are the official's age, followed by his or her final time, per-mile pace and his or her time on Doomsday Hill.

County commissioners urge Condon to consider Knezovich for police chief

Spokane County's three Republican county commissioners are asking Mayor-elect David Condon to strongly consider Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich's offer to be the city's interim police chief.

The three signed a letter to Condon's transition team saying that with Chief Anne Kirkpatrick retiring, it makes sense to consider consolidating the Spokane Police Department with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. If Knezovich is selected as interim chief, it would allow the concept to be studied, they said.


Documents:

Mapping the 2010 Vote: County Commissioner

Data from Spokane County Elections Office/Computer analysis by Spin Control

Salvatori concedes, says Holy could top French

In an e-mail to supporters on Friday, Spokane County commissioner candidate Steve Salvatori said a recount is likely in the primary battle for commissioner.

But he added that he doesn’t expect to be in the running.

“We made a valiant comeback effort on the Thursday ballot count, reducing our gap from 4 percent to 2 percent. But our hat is off to Jeff Holy, who did even better, and is now within 150 votes of Al French (we are 500 votes back). If the final ballots which will be counted Monday, hold true to their ratios from Thursday, Jeff will catch Al, and we will end up 300 – 400 votes behind. It looks like Jeff and Al may end up so close, that it may trigger a recount,” said Salvatori’s message to supporters.

The county election’s office will count almost all of the remaining estimated 10,000 ballots today. About 3,600 of those are in the county’s 3rd County Commissioner District where French, Holy and Salvatori were on the ballot along with Democratic incumbent Bonnie Mager, who easily won the primary and a spot on the November ballot.

French’s lead for second place over Holy fell from 434 to 158 from the first count on Tuesday to the most recent tally on Thursday.

To trigger a recount, French’s and Holy’s tallies must be within .5 percent of each other without considering the tallies of other candidates, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. As of Friday, 9,172 people had voted for either French of Holy. French had 4,665 of those votes, giving him 50.9 percent of the ballot that voted for him or Holy. Since Holy has only 49.1 percent of those votes, the gap currently is well above the .5 percent required for a recount.

If the gap falls below .25 percent, the ballots must be counted by hand.

Here’s a map showing the areas won by the GOP candidates in the primary.

To read Salvatori’s full message keep reading this entry.

GOP commissioner candidates split county

Second place in the Spokane County commissioner District 3 race seems up for grabs as the three main Republican candidates drew their strength from different parts of the district.

Incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager won most  precincts, and Republican David Elton trailed the pack in most. After subtracting their votes out, we get a picture of an interesting split among Al French, Jeff Holy and Steve Salvatori.

Not surprisingly, French, a former Spokane city councilman from the Northeast Council District, ran strong in the City of Spokane’s northern precincts. Salvatori outpolled him in some of the heavier voting southern city precincts and Holy ran strongest in the southwest precincts of the county.

The general election is a new ballgame, however, because the entire county votes.

French ad on raceway sparks response from Salvatori

My in-laws were in town last week and asked, “Who is Al French?”

It was another indicator that French has been effective in getting his name out in the community.

With eight years on the Spokane City Council, French already had an advantage in name recognition — at least over his GOP rivals.

Now French has mailed a flyer that takes aim at his Republican competitors over the Spokane County Raceway. This morning, it sparked a response from Steve Salvatori, one of his Republican opponents who also hopes to represent the county’s 3rd Commissioner District. Salvatori accuses French of “deliberately” misstating his position.

The mailer shows two racecar drivers, one labeled Steve (for Salvatori) and one labeled Jeff (for Jeff Holy). The text says, “Steve says Zoom” and “Jeff says V-room.”

French’s ad says he’s the only GOP candidate that “says stop wasting tax dollars on a raceway.” In a Spokesman-Review questionnaire last month, French wrote that the county should “develop a strategy for getting the racetrack back into the hands of the private sector.”

The flyer is accurate if his point is that he’s the only Republican candidate currently advocating the sale of the track — at least based on the candidates’ responses to the newspaper survey. But the flier appears to exaggerate his opponents’ enthusiasm for the track. Here’s what Holy, the Spokane County Republican Party’s preferred candidate, told The Spokesman-Review about the raceway: ”I would not have purchased the racetrack when other essential services weren’t being adequately funded. It’s all about failing to make the priorities of government a priority. To protect county tax dollars, we now must avoid the mistake the city of Spokane made with the purchase and subsequent desperation sale of Playfair Race Course, where lack of adequate planning caused a multimillion-dollar loss.”

That’s a position that may be hard to equate to ”V-room.”

Here’s an excerpt from Salvatori’s news release: “The mailer implies that both Jeff Holy and I advocate spending tax payer dollars on the Spokane Raceway and that Al is the only republican candidate against it. I want to make clear that Mr. French is free to distribute as many mailers as he can afford, but he does not have the right to deliberately misstate the positions of his opponents.”

Salvatori says his position is to convert the track to “an enterprise fund. That would ensure it breaks even on an operating basis, and prevent any further outlay of taxpayer money.”

Republicans on the county commission bought the track in hopes of the raceway generating enough revenue to pay for its operations, but the track has thus far struggled to pay its own way.

To read all the candidates’ responses to The S-R’s questionnaire, click here.

(As a member of City Council, French supported the purchase of Playfair for sewage treatment and later fought the selling of the land, arguing that it should be used as a train-loading center to spark commerce. When that proposal didn’t gain support, French said he would support the sale of the land to a business.)

The race for county commissioner is one of the most competitive in Tuesday’s election. As the only Democrat, incumbent Bonnie Mager has the easiest path to the November election. If French’s campaign fliers are any sign, she also could benefit from her strong stance against the raceway. One of her recent mailers highlights her opposition to the track as well as her criticism of the cost of plans to replace Geiger Corrections Center.

Unanimous praise for French, even from his ardent opponents

Monday’s City Council meeting was the last with Al French as a member.

French is finished with his second term representing northeast Spokane. Term limits prevented him from running again, but he has announced his candidacy for the Spokane County Commission.

Al French for county auditor?

Spokane City Councilman Al French appears to be readying for a 2010 election, but what that election is, he won’t say.

“I look forward to serving as long as the public will allow me to serve,” French said in an interview on Thursday.

Earlier this year, rumors were rampant that French was leading an effort to change the City Charter’s term limit rules to allow him to run for City Council president or for a third term on the council. What those rumors neglected to consider is that even if the proposal made it on the November ballot (it didn’t) and voters approved, it still would have been too late for him to run in 2009, and another City Council president race doesn’t happen until 2011.

While French has been successful running in his northeast council district, he’s struggled in other parts of the city. He lost a city-wide council president race to Dennis Hession in 2003 and a city-wide mayoral race to Hession and Mary Verner in the 2007 primary.

He said today that he doesn’t foresee a future run for mayor.

“The window of opportunity was there. I took advantage of it. It didn’t work out, so we move on,” he said. What he’s moving on to, he won’t specify, but he wouldn’t rule out the state Legislature or any county office. If he decides to make a run, he plans to make an announcement by the end of the year, he said.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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