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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Al French

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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