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Spokane Race Set Spending Record Unions, Developers Helped Push Mark Past $184,000

Unions and developers were the big spenders in Spokane’s municipal elections this year.

But development interests generally did a better job of backing winners, an analysis of campaign giving and spending shows.

While candidates raised and spent less than in past years trying to win the city’s top elective post, independent campaigns helped boost spending on the mayor’s race to a new plateau.

One of the independent campaigns, People for Positive Leadership, received a warning from the state Public Disclosure Commission for an ad attacking challenger John Talbott in the closing days of the campaign.

The ad, mailed to some 37,000 city voters, should have listed the top five contributors to the newly formed organization.

Melissa Warheit, executive director of the commission, said that’s standard procedure.

“The first time, they get a warning letter that goes into their file,” Warheit said. “For the second violation, they would be taken to a hearing or face a penalty.”

A second violation appears unlikely. The organization was formed specifically to counter another independent campaign that opposed incumbent Jack Geraghty, and has since disbanded.

The group opposing Geraghty, the Citizens Action Coalition, collected the largest single donation of the campaign. In October, it received $30,000 from Caryatid Inc., a biotechnology firm owned by Seattle developer David Sabey, the owner of NorthTown Mall. Sabey Corp. helped start that political committee in September with seed money of $2,050.

More than $184,000 was spent by all groups trying to convince Spokane voters whom to pick for their next mayor. That’s about $7,000 more than in 1989, the previous record for spending.

Candidates have until the middle of December to file their final reports. But campaign spending records to date - which include the major expenses for candidates who usually must pay cash for ads and services - show that Geraghty raised and spent less trying to get re-elected than he did in his successful 1993 campaign.

His contribution totals through mid-November stood at just under $78,600; four years ago, he raised $86,000.

Talbott raised and spent even less through election day, about $43,600 according to his latest reports.

Both had enough money to mount television campaigns, which previously were rare in city races.

Talbott spent more than $21,000 on television commercials, his reports show. Geraghty spent just under $13,000.

Talbott is his own biggest donor to date, loaning his campaign $5,000 shortly before the primary. He expects to repay the 90-day note this month, and can retire the debt with post-election contributions.

The successful challenger’s other big donors were the Spokane Home Builders Association, which gave him $4,000. John Luger, a Bellevue, Wash., owner of a microfilm and data company, donated $3,000, and Steve Livingstone, the owner of Bayou Brewing Co. and the Riverwalk development, contributed $3,000.

Other donors to Talbott who are involved in real estate and property development in Spokane included John Stone, Martin Howser and members of the Sandifur family, which owns Metropolitan Mortgage and Investments.

Unions were among Geraghty’s biggest donors, including the labor organizations that represent some of the city’s workers. The Washington Council of County and City Employees gave him $4,000, while the firefighters local gave him $2,000, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave him $1,000.

Roofers, laborers and ironworkers also contributed to Geraghty’s campaign. Associated General Contractors, an organization of non-union builders, gave him $2,000.

Development interests backing the incumbent included members of the Cowles family and Citizens Realty Co., which are involved in a major redevelopment of River Park Square downtown, as well as the owners of Central Pre-Mix Concrete, and Inland Asphalt.

The firefighters, government employees and other unions also backed Judith Gilmore, a former regional representative for Gov. Mike Lowry. Gilmore lost the race for an open council seat to Rob Higgins, who returned to the council after an eight-year hiatus.

Higgins, the executive director of the Spokane Board of Realtors, received major contributions from political action committees that represent general contractors, real estate agents and home builders, as well as local developers Harlan Douglass and Tombari Enterprises.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TOP DONORS IN CITY ELECTIONS Here is a list of top donors to candidates in Spokane’s city elections this year: Spokane Home Builders Association, $7,265: John Talbott, $4,000; Duane Sommers, $1,765; Rob Higgins, $1,000; Cherie Rodgers, $500. Washington State Council of County and City Employees, $7,000: Jack Geraghty, $4,000; Judith Gilmore, $3,000. John Talbott, $5,575: himself. Spokane Fire Fighters, Local 29, $4,000: Geraghty, $2,000; Phyllis Holmes, $1,000; Gilmore, $1,000. Washington Water Power Co., $3,382: Geraghty, $1,000; Holmes, $1,000; Rodgers, $500; Rob Higgins, $500; Gilmore, $382. John Luger, Bellevue, Wash., business owner, $3,000: Talbott. John Stone, Spokane developer, $2,850: Talbott, $2,050; Rodgers, $500; Sommers, $300. Pridemark Outdoor Advertising, $2,580: Geraghty. Salmon Creek Leasing and Investments, $2,500: Sommers. Kaiser Aluminum, $2,500: Geraghty, $1,500; Higgins, $500; Gilmore, $500.

Here is a list of top donors to independent campaigns in Spokane’s city elections this year: David Sabey, through Sabey Corp. and Caryatid Inc., $32,050: Citizens Action Coalition, to oppose Geraghty. Washington Water Power Co., $5,000: to People for Positive Leadership, to oppose Talbott. Allison Cowles, Spokane businesswoman, $5,000: to People for Positive Leadership. John Stone, personally and through A-Economy Storage, $4,572.44: to Spokane for a New Century, to oppose incumbents in the primary election. Bryan Stone, Spokane developer, $2,010: to Spokane for a New Century. John Luger, Bellevue business owner, $2,000: to Spokane for a New Century. Stanley and Patricia Erickson, Bellevue attorney, $2,000: to Citizens Action Coalition. SG Taylor Construction of Seattle, $2,000: to Spokane for a New Century.

This sidebar appeared with the story: TOP DONORS IN CITY ELECTIONS Here is a list of top donors to candidates in Spokane’s city elections this year: Spokane Home Builders Association, $7,265: John Talbott, $4,000; Duane Sommers, $1,765; Rob Higgins, $1,000; Cherie Rodgers, $500. Washington State Council of County and City Employees, $7,000: Jack Geraghty, $4,000; Judith Gilmore, $3,000. John Talbott, $5,575: himself. Spokane Fire Fighters, Local 29, $4,000: Geraghty, $2,000; Phyllis Holmes, $1,000; Gilmore, $1,000. Washington Water Power Co., $3,382: Geraghty, $1,000; Holmes, $1,000; Rodgers, $500; Rob Higgins, $500; Gilmore, $382. John Luger, Bellevue, Wash., business owner, $3,000: Talbott. John Stone, Spokane developer, $2,850: Talbott, $2,050; Rodgers, $500; Sommers, $300. Pridemark Outdoor Advertising, $2,580: Geraghty. Salmon Creek Leasing and Investments, $2,500: Sommers. Kaiser Aluminum, $2,500: Geraghty, $1,500; Higgins, $500; Gilmore, $500.

Here is a list of top donors to independent campaigns in Spokane’s city elections this year: David Sabey, through Sabey Corp. and Caryatid Inc., $32,050: Citizens Action Coalition, to oppose Geraghty. Washington Water Power Co., $5,000: to People for Positive Leadership, to oppose Talbott. Allison Cowles, Spokane businesswoman, $5,000: to People for Positive Leadership. John Stone, personally and through A-Economy Storage, $4,572.44: to Spokane for a New Century, to oppose incumbents in the primary election. Bryan Stone, Spokane developer, $2,010: to Spokane for a New Century. John Luger, Bellevue business owner, $2,000: to Spokane for a New Century. Stanley and Patricia Erickson, Bellevue attorney, $2,000: to Citizens Action Coalition. SG Taylor Construction of Seattle, $2,000: to Spokane for a New Century.



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