Austin Wins Fourth District Primary
FOR THE RECORD (September 21, 1995): Legislative candidate Mary “Chey” Austin believes in finding efficiencies and eliminating wasteful spending to find more money for schools, but would not raise taxes to pay for education. A story in Wednesday’s paper misstated her position.
Mary “Chey” Austin won the Democratic primary for Fourth District state representative Tuesday night.
Austin defeated Democrat Dan Meckel and now will take on incumbent Republican Mark Sterk in the general election.
Sterk claimed nearly two-thirds of the vote in the open primary.
Austin, 56, works as a coordinator at the Sacred Heart Medical Center blood bank, and has been active in Democratic party politics.
Those ties helped her in the partisan primary against Meckel, who once said his beliefs were more in line with Republicans. He opposes abortion, wants to make divorces more difficult to obtain and wants to cut welfare.
Democrats refused to certify him as a bona fide party candidate before the primary.
Austin labels herself a fiscal conservative who would be willing to raise taxes to improve education. She is calling for more programs in schools to help keep students out of gangs, and increased vocational programs for high school students who aren’t going to college.
Austin and Sterk might find some common ground on criminal justice issues between now and the Nov. 7 general election. Both are calling for harsher penalties for juveniles who commit serious crimes.
But Sterk, 43, a Spokane Police Department sergeant, extends his “get-tough-on-crime” discussions to more time in prison for adults, and fewer amenities in prisons for convicted felons.
Sterk was appointed earlier this year to replace longtime state Rep. Mike Padden, who resigned his seat to become a District Court judge. That gives Sterk some of the perks of incumbency, including a substantial campaign fund that includes donations from local Republican organizations and lobbyist groups.