August 31, 1996 in Nation/World

Demos Call Roskelley’s Foe A Spoiler Cliff Cameron Denies He’s A Closet Republican

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Cliff Cameron’s campaign slogan cuts to the chase:

“Lower taxes,” read the signs promoting him for Spokane County commissioner.

The message may play well with voters, but to get the support of party faithful, Cameron might have tried “Democrat … really.”

“Cliff Cameron is a Republican,” said state Rep. Denny Dellwo.

Cameron is challenging County Commissioner John Roskelley, the party favorite, in the Sept. 17 Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Lila Howe in November’s general election.

Dellwo and other Democrats say Cameron’s work for Republican Steve Hasson’s campaign proves he’s a spoiler, interested only in weakening Roskelley before the showdown with Howe.

Campaign records show Cameron helped place campaign signs for Hasson, a former Democrat running for re-election to another commission seat. Cameron said he worked for Hasson one afternoon in June.

“You can call Steve a Republican but he still has a lot of the beliefs and philosophies that are mine,” said Cameron, adding “I’ve been a Democrat all my life.”

Here’s a look at the two Democratic candidates for county commissioner:

Cameron: A third-generation Spokane surveyor, Cameron most often works for Spokane’s biggest developer, Harlan Douglass, and sometimes represents him at land-use hearings.

Last year, Cameron disputed a development plan negotiated by Indian Trail residents, developers and city staff, saying it was too restrictive. The document was stifling Douglass’ plan to build 842 houses and apartments in the Indian Trail area.

“Cliff Cameron will represent Mr. Douglass and any other developer,” said Mike Page, secretary for Citizens for Responsible Development, an Indian Trail group. “He will not take care to see the neighborhoods are protected.”

If he’s elected, Cameron said, his only criteria for deciding whether to allow a development would be whether it meets land-use regulations.

“If Douglass brings something in and it isn’t by the rules, I just won’t approve it. It won’t happen,” he said, adding that he’s proud of subdivisions he helped design, like Woodridge and Westgate in north Spokane.

“There’s a feeling of pride to look at this and say, ‘This was really a good thing, providing housing.”’

He said he worries the state Growth Management Act will drive up home prices. But many of his views - advocating small lots to make efficient use of land, for instance - match the act’s goals.

“Personally, I don’t feel that we need (the act) to do what responsible developers are already doing,” he said.

Asked how he would live up to his promise to cut taxes, Cameron said he won’t know until he has a chance to study the budget from inside the courthouse.

“I’d like to say that I’ll find some magic solution,” he said. “I just have to believe that it’s there, somewhere.”

Roskelley: Elected last year to finish Skip Chilberg’s unfinished term, Roskelley calls his job “the best a person can have. I thoroughly enjoy it.”

But not every day. In January, Roskelley suggested a fee increase at county golf courses to help pay for park improvements. The idea angered golfers, but not as much as Roskelley’s characterization of their sport as “recreation for the wealthy.”

Since then, Roskelley has been more deliberative and cautious.

When commissioners can’t reach consensus - typically on land-use issues - Roskelley most often is outvoted 2-1 by his GOP colleagues.

His support for the Growth Management Act rankles some developers, who say he cares too little about housing costs. It led Howe to label him a liberal.

Roskelley described himself as “conservative, perhaps too narrow minded, and basically ‘redneck”’ in his 1991 book, “Last Days.” The description still fits, he said, when the topic is spending.

Anyone who hasn’t been a commissioner can’t understand how tough it is to save money, he said. Department heads come to commissioners almost daily, asking for more. When the prosecutor recently requested $160,000, Phil Harris, a conservative on most issues, wanted to spend the money and Roskelley didn’t. They compromised at $120,000.

But Roskelley supports adding an eleventh Superior Court judge, which will cost about $221,000 a year, not including the expense of remodeling the courthouse. Harris - who contends the true cost could come close to $1 million - argued the county can’t afford the addition.

, DataTimes MEMO: See individual profiles by name of candidate.

This sidebar appeared with the story: HOWE SHADOWING ROSKELLEY Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley’s new shadow is there each Tuesday when he and his two colleagues meet in the courthouse to decide county business. Lila Howe is there Thursdays when commissioners meet with constituents. She’s there Fridays for meetings about growth management. She’ll be there, on the ballot, in November as the Republican challenger for Roskelley’s commission seat. Whether Roskelley is on the same ballot depends on whether he wins the Democratic primary on Sept. 17. Howe has no primary challenger. Howe refused an interview after The Spokesman-Review reported she and her husband violated land-use laws to build a lakeside cabin in Stevens County. Announcing her candidacy in February, Howe called Roskelley “a nice gentleman,” though too liberal for her liking. At a candidate’s forum Thursday, Howe said government has imposed too many regulations that “erode our property rights, our private rights.” What some Spokane residents call urban sprawl, she said, is really just people deciding where and how they want to live. “When we start taking people’s choices away from them, then we have a problem,” she said. “I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to keep increasing regulations.” Howe said the boards of regional agencies like the health district and Spokane Transit Authority need to exercise more control over spending and employees. County commissioners sit on those boards. She advocated “zero-based budgeting.” She didn’t have time to go into details, but the term typically means department heads must justify each expense - even those as routine as plowing snow and salaries - as if it had never occurred before. The DARE program is among the expenses that should be scrutinized, she said, adding that if it isn’t proven effective, the deputies who run it should go back to patrol. - Dan Hansen

See individual profiles by name of candidate.

This sidebar appeared with the story: HOWE SHADOWING ROSKELLEY Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley’s new shadow is there each Tuesday when he and his two colleagues meet in the courthouse to decide county business. Lila Howe is there Thursdays when commissioners meet with constituents. She’s there Fridays for meetings about growth management. She’ll be there, on the ballot, in November as the Republican challenger for Roskelley’s commission seat. Whether Roskelley is on the same ballot depends on whether he wins the Democratic primary on Sept. 17. Howe has no primary challenger. Howe refused an interview after The Spokesman-Review reported she and her husband violated land-use laws to build a lakeside cabin in Stevens County. Announcing her candidacy in February, Howe called Roskelley “a nice gentleman,” though too liberal for her liking. At a candidate’s forum Thursday, Howe said government has imposed too many regulations that “erode our property rights, our private rights.” What some Spokane residents call urban sprawl, she said, is really just people deciding where and how they want to live. “When we start taking people’s choices away from them, then we have a problem,” she said. “I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to keep increasing regulations.” Howe said the boards of regional agencies like the health district and Spokane Transit Authority need to exercise more control over spending and employees. County commissioners sit on those boards. She advocated “zero-based budgeting.” She didn’t have time to go into details, but the term typically means department heads must justify each expense - even those as routine as plowing snow and salaries - as if it had never occurred before. The DARE program is among the expenses that should be scrutinized, she said, adding that if it isn’t proven effective, the deputies who run it should go back to patrol. - Dan Hansen


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