Spokane Valley voters, who already had defeated three incorporation attempts since 1990, remained in a foul mood Tuesday, crushing proposals to form the cities of Evergreen and Opportunity.
Both incorporation bids failed to win even one-third of the vote in unofficial final results.
“I’m disappointed in the numbers,” said Ed Meadows, Opportunity’s chief proponent. “I was hoping it would be better.”
Absentee ballots counted Tuesday painted a grim picture early for incorporation supporters and the trend continued through the night.
“I’m glad it didn’t go because I think it would have fractured the Valley,” said Doug Rider, a leader of the group that opposed Evergreen and Opportunity. “I think we ought to incorporate the whole Valley.”
Attempts at Valleywide incorporation failed in 1990, 1994 and 1995.
Tuesday’s lopsided defeat virtually rules out large-scale incorporation attempts in the next three years.
By failing to win at least 40 percent approval, none of the land proposed for the two defeated cities - 14 square miles - can be included in an incorporation proposal until the year 2000. That includes a major portion of the tax-rich Sprague Avenue and Sullivan Road commercial strips, and the Spokane Valley Mall.
“That’s where the money is, that’s the tax base,” said Vivienne Latimer, a leader in the Evergreen campaign. “All that is the heart of the Valley.”
Recognizing the failure of past Valleywide incorporation attempts, proponents of both cities were careful to cut out neighborhoods that had traditionally given incorporation a cool reception.
By eliminating the dissenting voters, the smaller cities would have a better chance of passing, supporters of Evergreen and Opportunity reasoned.
“I’m not sorry we did what we did,” Meadows said. “It was a philosophy and we followed it. Things just didn’t work out.”
Evergreen would have been a city of about 8 square miles and 15,000 residents. About 19,000 residents would have called the 6-square-mile city of Opportunity home.
Voters, fed up with incorporation talk, wanted no part of either city.
“How many damn times do we need to say no?” wondered a middle-aged man who had just cast his ballot at Adams Elementary School.
“The way I see it, people in the Valley have voted down incorporation three times already,” Mike Otis said after voting at Opportunity Elementary School. “There’s got to be a reason for that.”
Other voters didn’t think the proposed cities would be financially sound.
“I don’t think it would be beneficial to the Valley to have (Evergreen) as a city,” said a six-year Valley resident, who refused to give her name. “It doesn’t make any sense, the way they put the boundaries.”
Annexing to the city of Spokane is a better choice, the woman added.
Preventing annexation is precisely the reason to incorporate, said another voter, George Matthews.
“I just didn’t want Spokane to take us over,” Matthews said outside his polling place, Progress Elementary School.
Turnout for the one-issue Valley election was low, about 33 percent of registered voters. Election workers said some residents may have stayed home to watch President Clinton’s State of the Union address and catch the verdict in the O.J. Simpson civil trial.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Both cities fail
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