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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Steve Corker

Council votes to allow more residences on North Hill site

Land along the steep Monroe Street hill in North Spokane will be able to hold up 30 homes or apartments per acre under a plan approved Monday by the City Council.

The council voted 6-1 late Monday  to change the comprehensive plan to allow up to 30 residential units per acre on a little less than two acres of land on the West side of Monroe between Courtland and Glass Avenues. The vacant property is owned by the city.

City officials say the designation provides for more flexibility in designing the site, and that it is highly unlikely that any project will include the maximum number of residences. The city’s Community Development Department hopes to partner with a nonprofit group to develop and sell the vacant land.

Many neighbors opposed the change, in large part because the city doesn’t have specific plans for the site.

The council voted to require that any development on the site be reviewed first by the city’s Design Review Board. Councilman Jon Snyder argued that the process would give neighbors an extra step to consider plans.

Councilman Steve Corker cast the lone vote against the proposal.

Corker endorses Stuckart

While most of the political news is swirling around City Hall this morning with the press conference over the Otto Zehm case (read about that here), there was a development in the Council President race.

Councilman Steve Corker, who finished third in the primary for the job last month, announced he was endorsing former opponent Ben Stuckart for the job: “Ben represents a bright, new voice for Spokane.”

Stuckart thanked Corker for the endorsement and “for his many years of service to the City of Spokane.”

Corker also pointed out the key element of the primary results as the city looks ahead to the Nov. 8 election. Unlike the mayor's race, in which incumbent Mary Verner essentially lapped the field, no one got a majority in the council president's race. Dennis Hession, the former council president and mayor, finished on top, with 37 percent, but Stuckart got 30 percent and Corker 27 percent.

One other interesting stat: 2,175 voters “skipped” that race. That is, they marked their ballots in other contests, but not for council president. Had they voted for Corker, he would've finished second; had they voted for Stuckart, he would've been almost tied with Hession; had they voted for Hession, the race would now be seen as pretty much over.

For maps on how the candidates fared across the city's precincts, click here for Hession. here for Stuckart, and here for Corker. For a look at where the undecideds were, click here.

Council Prez race: the good, the bad and the undecided

The Spokane City Council President race would appear to be a toss up, particularly in many North Spokane precincts where a clear favorite has yet to emerge.
No duh, you might say, considering that winner Dennis Hession got only slightly more than a third of the vote in a four-person field.
But Spin Control does not make such prognostications lightly. Instead, we employ the very best of computer science and data analysis to confirm what you may already suspect: That Spokane voters seem less sure of their selection for the person to run council meetings for the next four years than the person to run the city.
Hey, some days, running the council is a real chore, but the city pretty much runs itself….
  

Council Prez race: Newest Corker numbers

(Click on map to enlarge)

Vote totals from evening count of Aug. 18.

Council Prez race: Where they’re strong and where they aren’t

Unlike Spokane's mayoral race, which has a clear favorite based on the primary results, the council president race is a more interesting mix of support around the city for the top three candidates.

As things stand now, former Council President and Mayor Dennis Hession would face political newcomer Ben Stuckart in the November general. Councilman Steve Corker is third in the Top Two primary, and will have to make up ground on Stuckart in the later vote counts. (Update: With almost all the ballots counted, it's clear that Corker will not make up that ground.)

But maps (found below or by clicking the links on the names) of the candidates' support, based on the first round of ballot counts, shows the three have different strongholds.

Hession, not surprisingly, ran very strong on the South Hill, where he's lived for years and where his base of support was in previous successful runs for city council and council president. He actually won outright some of the heaviest voting precincts on the hill, as well as the Logan District precinct that incluldes Gonzaga University, and ran strong in the far northwest sections.

Stuckart did well on the South Hill where ever Hession didn't, basically below 29th around Manito Park and east of Rockwood Boulevard. He did OK in some parts of northwest Spokane, but not so well in the northeast.

Corker did better north of Interstate 90, both in his Northwest Spokane Council District 3, and in much of the the northeast, but poorly in much of south Spokane. The problem for Corker, as candidates discover in most Spokane city races, is that doing well in the northeast district doesn't usually help you as much — voter registration and turnout are lower there than other parts of Spokane, so you wind up running behind in a citywide race. 

Council Prez Race: Corker’s showing

(click on map to enlarge)

Spokane City Councilman Steve Corker is currently third in the primary for Spokane City Council President, based on the count of ballots on election night.

Click to return to story.

Council president candidates have nearly exhausted campaign funds

No matter which two candidates emerge from Tuesday's primary for City Council president, it looks like they'll have a lot of fund-raising work left to do, according to the latest filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Ben Stuckart and Steve Corker have nearly tapped their campaign chests, and while Dennis Hession had about $6,000 left (at least according to information available this morning), that's not much for a city-wide general election.

The politics of water rates

What might be the most curious thing about the current City Council debate on water rates is the timing.

Here the council is debating what may be the biggest political hot potato of the year even though ballots are sitting on kitchen tables ready to be marked in time for Tuesday's primary election.

If anyone questions the political ramifications of the rate boost proposals, consider this: Two mayoral candidates were in the audience Monday night: Mike Noder and David Condon. (Condon, by the way, said he has concerns about the proposed increase and would have voted against it.)

Council observers are used to politicians proposing a rate freeze in election years and more quietly asking for increases out of the election cycle. The chart showing percentage increases over the last decade clearly points to election-year hesitation on rates among mayors and councils.

But Mayor Mary Verner has gone ahead with steep proposed increases in water and sewer this year despite this being an election year. Not only that, the debates on the water and sewer rates were scheduled for this summer — in time to be considered by voters. Until last year, the council voted on utility rates along with the city budget in December.

So why the change?

Verner was angered by the council's decision last year to increase sewer rates by more than she had proposed to balance its decision to reject her administration's proposed water rate increase. She accused the council of playing with the rates out of concern for the utility taxes they generate for services like parks, police, fire and libraries. As a result, she and some council members opted to set utility rates for 2012 well before the council approves the budget to avoid setting utility rates to generate utility taxes.

And don't forget that as a candidate for mayor in 2007, Verner accused Mayor Dennis Hession of playing politics when he proposed rate freezes for 2008. Verner has said if former leaders hadn't balked at increases, she wouldn't be in the predicament of asking for boosts like the proposed 8 percent request for water.

Democratic Party backs Verner, Stuckart, Rush and Jones

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has won the seal of approval from the Spokane County Democratic Party for a new term.

The party's endorsement committee voted Monday to endorse Verner for mayor, Ben Stuckart for City Council president, Joy Jones for the City Council seat representing Northwest Spokane and incumbent Richard Rush for the seat representing South Spokane, said David Smith, chairman of the party.

Smith said Verner and Rush also won the party's support in 2007.

“She's even more popular among Democrats than she was four years ago,” Smith said.

None of the picks are that surprising, though the decision to endorse Stuckart is somewhat of a snub to City Councilman Steve Corker, a former chairman of the party who is vying for council president.

Smith said Stuckart was the only council president candidate who requested an endorsement. That opened the door for the party to pick Stuckart because the party only backs candidates who request party support, he said. If multiple Democrats had requested an endorsement in the same race, the party would have waited to make a choice.

Spokane County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Pederson said last week that the Republican Party won't make any endorsements, at least prior to the August primary. He added that no city candidates have officially requested GOP backing.

Verner's main challenger, David Condon, has sought to distance himself from the party with large “nonpartisan” labels on his campaign signs. Condon is the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

“It is a nonpartisan office,” Condon said this week. “The platform they have wouldn't be a platform I would further at the city level.”

Verner’s officially a candidate; so are Corker and Stuckart

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner filled out the paperwork and paid her $1,693.58 filing fee on Monday morning to officially enter the race to keep her job.

Today is the first day candidates can file to put their name on the ballot.

Handing the check to Voter Services Supervisor Kit Anderson, Verner said: “It's an investment in my grandchildren's future.” 

Afterward she spoke to supporters and reporters in the parking lot.

Also filing this morning were Ben Stuckart and Steve Corker for City Council president, Mike Padden for the Spokane Valley state Senate seat representing district 4, Mike Allen for the council seat representing south Spokane, Gary Pollard and John Waite for the seat representing northwest Spokane, and Paul Lecoq, Rod Roduner and Deana Brower for the Spokane Public Schools board.

The Spokane County Elections Office keeps an updated list for all the candidates who have filed for each office here.

(Photo caption: Mayor Mary Verner writes a check for $1,693.58 to pay her filing fee on Monday, June 6, 2011 to run for office.)

Snyder, Stark say they’re unlikely to run for council president

The field of candidates  to replace council President Joe Shogan remains just two.

In recent weeks, City Councilman Jon Snyder and former City Councilman Brad Stark considered entering the race for council president, but both say they likely will stay out of the contest.

“I looked at it, and it's a definitely winnable race,” Stark said.

But Stark, who served four years on the council and lost his seat to Richard Rush in 2007, said he decided his focus should remain on his job and family: “I don't foresee myself running.”

Snyder, like Stark, said he was approached by supporters to consider a run.

“I came to the conclusion very quickly that this is not an opportune time,” Snyder said.

That leaves the race for now between Ben Stuckart, executive director for Communities in Schools of Spokane County, and City Councilman Steve Corker.

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission in 2009 indicating he would run for council president this year, but Eugster said late last year that he had changed his mind about running.

Ben Stuckart enters race for Spokane City Council president

City Councilman Steve Corker has a challenger to his bid to become Spokane City Council president.

Ben Stuckart, executive director for Communities in Schools of Spokane County, said this week that he will run for the office.

Stuckart's announcement isn't much of surprise. He confirmed last month that he was strongly considering a run.

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission in 2009 indicating he would run for council president this year, but Eugster said late last year that he had changed his mind about running.

So here's a review so far of the 2011 Spokane races:

Mayor:

Mary Verner: Running

Christopher W. Fenton: Running

David Condon: Seriously considering a run

Nadine Woodward: Not ruling out a run, though not seriously considering it

City Council president:

Steve Corker: Running

Ben Stuckart: Running

Steve Eugster: Not running

City Council seat representing northwest Spokane:

Steve Salvatori: Running

City Council seat representing northeast Spokane:

Donna McKereghan: Running

John Waite: Running

City Council seat representing south Spokane:

Richard Rush: Running

Mike Allen: Running

Stuckart, spokesman for Children’s Investment Fund, considering challenge to Corker

A battle may be shaping up to take over for City Council President Joe Shogan.

Ben Stuckart, executive director for Communities in Schools of Spokane County, said Wednesday that he is “strongly considering” a run for Spokane City Council president.

City Councilman Steve Corker announced last year that he is a candidate to replace Shogan, who is not running again.

Last year, Stuckart was the spokesman for the unsuccessful campaign for the Children's Investment Fund,  a proposed property tax for youth programs aimed at lowering the dropout rate.

Stuckart, 39, said he will make a decision about running by March 1. He is the former regional manager for TicketsWest and was hired in 2007 to start the Communities in Schools' Spokane office. Stuckart lives in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood on the South Hill.

(Photo information: Ben Stuckart, director of Communities in Schools, stands in his small office in Spokane Thursday, Mar. 4, 2010. By Jesse Tinsley.)

Tax for streets overshadows talk of task force

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A) Jon Snyder: “You can’t just say, ‘We need the streets fixed! We need the streets fixed!’ and then vote against every single remedy that we have at our disposal”
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B) Steve Corker: “If the No. 1 priority of the city was public safety, would we have the courage to vote in a B&O (tax) to ensure that was funded?”
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C) Bob Apple: “I hope the voters take a negative act towards those who think that they don’t have a right to an input”
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D) Joe Shogan: “A B&O tax in this town has got about as much chance as an ice cube in hell”

Mayor Mary Verner told the Spokane City Council on Tuesday that she will reconvene a committee that will help form policy on paving streets and select opportunities to focus “complete streets” efforts.

For the most part, the city's 2004 street bond has been used only to reconstruct streets from curb-to-curb, a policy that has been challenged by some members of City Council who believe it should also be used to improve sidewalks and make other upgrades. Verner has stood by the curb-to-curb use of the street bond, but has worked to supplement that money with grants and other funds to add amenities on certain projects.

Talk in Tuesday's meeting often turned to funding, specifically on the proposed tab tax that will be considered by the Spokane City Council next month. As you can hear in the above clips, passion among the council members about streets is high.

Eugster says he won’t run for council president

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster said Wednesday that he no longer plans to run next year for Spokane City Council president.

Earlier this week City Councilman Steve Corker announced that he will run for the seat.

Eugster filed to run for council president last year after he lost a bid for city council.

“I want to spend the last years of my life engaged in intellectual legal efforts, as opposed to political legal efforts,” Eugster said in an interview.

In a case that ended in the state Supreme Court, Eugster was suspended from practicing law for 18 months. That suspension ends on Dec. 13.

Eugster could be back at the state's top court next year, arguing a case challenging how state appeals court judges are elected.

Listen to Shogan’s sharp words for his City Council colleagues

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Shogan defends tab tax

Council President Joe Shogan took the lead this year on the plan to create a vehicle tab tax while others on Spokane City Council examined other ideas — including a parking lot tax. Shogan’s plan is pretty much the only tax left that might be used to help balance the 2011 budget. But it’s facing growing opposition on the council.

Three council members were especially angered by the surprise vote to move $1.5 million of street money to the city’s rainy-day fund where it could be used to help fund the fire and police budgets. That proposal wasn’t publicly vetted until Monday, just before the money was shifted in a 4-3 vote. In the audio clip, Rush is explaining that that vote makes it highly unlikely that he would support a tab tax for the 2011 budget. That, along with arguments from Corker in favor of moving a tab tax vote to January, prompted Shogan’s harsh response.

More cuts in street department may mean extra city layoffs

Spokane’s 2011 street budget was slashed by $1.5 million on Monday in a move that may mean extra city layoffs.

The Spokane City Council voted 4-3 on Monday to shift $1.5 million in street money to the city’s rainy-day fund where it could be used to reward departments with unions that made requested concessions.

City Councilman Steve Corker suggested the cut to help cover the cost of maintaining police and fire jobs. The city’s fire union recently ratified concessions that will save the city about $700,000 next year. But to save all the jobs called for in the agreement, the city needs closer to $1.4 million. A similar situation will occur in the Police Department if a tentative deal with the Spokane Police Guild is approved by members this week.

The union that represents Street Department workers, Local 270 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, hasn’t made the concessions asked for by Mayor Mary Verner. Council members said they wouldn’t have targeted the street budget had the union cut a deal.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she is “disappointed” that Local 270 had not made concessions.

“The concept is we have to be as fair as possible to not reward those who are not coming to the plate,” McLaughlin said. “It’s appropriate to now look at the areas where our hands are being forced.”

Corker announces bid for council president

Spokane City Councilman Steve Corker announced Monday that he will run for Spokane City Council president next year.

Corker, 69, is a former advertising and marketing executive who was first elected to the council in 1999. Rather than run for re-election, Corker ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2003. He also lost a City Council election in 2005. He returned to the council after winning a seat in 2007.

The only other candidate so far in the race is City Councilman Steve Eugster, who announced his intention to run for the position last year. City Council President Joe Shogan is term limited from running again.

Corker, Sandifur make it official

City Councilman Steve Corker and his longtime significant other, Helen Sandifur, are officially married.

Corker, who sometimes referred to Sandifur as his wife over the past few years, said in an interview this week that they were legally married in Las Vegas on June 29.

Sandifur is the ex-wife of disgraced former chairman and CEO of now-defunct Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., C. Paul Sandifur Jr. The couple legally separated in 1994, Corker said.

Corker said he and Helen Sandifur participated in a Buddhist commitment ceremony in 2001, but decided not to civilly tie the knot until now because of lawsuits surrounding Metropolitan.

 ”I just love her very much. It’s been a wonderful 10 years that we’ve spent together and I’m just very proud to have her as my wife,” Corker 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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