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Groups Shift Gears For Election By Mail

A decision by the Spokane County auditor to hold a mail-in election has sent proponents of two proposed Valley cities scrambling.

After spending months preparing a low-key, low-cost campaign, proponents of forming the cities of Opportunity and Evergreen said they will have to shift gears with little more than a month left before the election.

Proponents of both cities said they will hold emergency strategy sessions early next week.

“We have to rearrange everything,” grumbled Vivienne Latimer, who is pushing Evergreen, a city that would include nearly 15,000 residents between the Spokane River, 24th Avenue, Evergreen Road and Barker Road.

Evergreen would be bounded by Interstate 90, 16th Avenue, Argonne Road and Evergreen Road.

Ed Meadows, leader of the effort to incorporate Opportunity, anticipates the city’s steering committee will now have to buy newspaper advertising, purchase more campaign signs, send out more fliers and hold more public meetings in an attempt to reach everyone with the boundaries of the respective cities.

Latimer said she did not know what Evergreen proponents were going to do.

Proponents of both cities had planned to rely on a letter-writing and phone campaign to generate support.

County Auditor Bill Donahue, citing a temporary state law that gives auditors the authority on how to conduct elections, decided to use the incorporation vote to introduce the mail-in election concept to Spokane County voter. The mail-in format will save the county money and increase voter turnout, Donahue said.

But Meadows said the decision came too late.

Ballots must be sent to voters in a 10-day window beginning on April 26. Donahue’s ruling effectively bumps the election date up 25 days, Meadows complained.

To recover, Meadows estimated that Opportunity incorporation supporters will have to purchase considerably more than the 50 yard signs it thought it needed, send out 10 times the 1,000 fliers they planned to mail and hold more public meetings - all of which costs money, something the campaign is short on.

“We’re not a group of wealthy people,” Meadows said. “We’ve got a very small war chest.”

Evergreen is even further behind, Latimer said. Proponents of that city cannot hold any town meetings until their appeal date passes.

Residents within the proposed city’s bounds have until April 20 to appeal the Boundary Review Board’s decision to recommend approval of the Evergreen proposal.

Fund-raising slow

Citizens for Opportunity had raised $509.54 by Thursday, but donations have been sparse lately.

According to records filed with the county’s elections office, Lloyd and Vivian Bradshaw’s $50 gift on March 8 was the last donation the group has received.

The top contributor is the Spokane Valley Incorporation Committee which donated $284.54 in February.

The proposed city of Evergreen has not yet filed with the public disclosure commission.

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