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Voters Opt For Experience On Council Incumbents Rodgers, Holmes Return To Office

(From For the Record, November 8, 1997): Reservation misidentified: City Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe, but was raised on the Flathead Reservation in Hot Springs, Mont. A story in Wednesday’s paper incorrectly identified the reservation.

Experience counted for plenty Tuesday as Spokane voters elected incumbent Councilwomen Phyllis Holmes and Cherie Rodgers and appeared to bring former City Council member Robert Higgins back to City Hall.

“I can’t wait to get moving on some issues,” Higgins said as he celebrated his apparent victory with friends and family at the Ridpath Hotel.

Higgins, 49, executive vice president of the Spokane Association of Realtors, ran with strong backing from business. A longtime Spokane resident, he returned to city politics after losing the 1989 mayor’s race to Sheri Barnard.

Higgins ran on a platform of encouraging job growth, investing in inner-city neighborhoods and improving the city’s transportation system.

Although Higgins was in the lead, challenger Judith Gilmore was unwilling to concede the race late Tuesday.

“We still have a lot of votes to count. I’m not ready to say that I’m out of this yet,” she said.

Gilmore, a Spokane resident since 1974, was former Gov. Mike Lowry’s Eastern Washington representative from 1993 to 1997. She now works at former City Councilman Jack Hebner’s Fulcrum Institute Dispute Resolution Clinic.

Her knowledge of Olympia was a centerpiece of her campaign. She argued the city could benefit by paying more attention to the state’s capital. Gilmore, 53, promised to focus on affordable housing and attracting living-wage jobs if elected.

The next closest City Council race had incumbent Phyllis Holmes with a healthy lead over Reform Party member Steve Thompson.

“It looks good, doesn’t it?” said Holmes, who celebrated her victory at her West Spokane home with 30 or 40 friends and supporters. Many were members of her North Central High School graduating class of 1957. “Everybody here has concluded that we did well.”

Holmes, 58, ran for a second term, saying she had unfinished business. She works as an insurance agent and planner for Principal Mutual Life Insurance Co.

During her campaign, Holmes pushed for strengthening neighborhood councils, beefing up regional transportation and improving the city’s land-use plan.

Thompson ran an unconventional campaign, vowing not to spend more than $2,000. On election night he attributed money to his loss.

“The numbers reflect which candidate had the money and which didn’t,” he said at mayoral candidate John Talbott’s party at Bayou Brewing Co.

Holmes had a different take on the race: “People made their choice based on us. I don’t think people distorted the issues in any way. It was a good, clean race.”

A comparative newcomer to Spokane, Thompson, 41, criticized the council for listening more to downtown business interests than citizens. He works for a Spokane telecommunications company.

In the final City Council race, incumbent Cherie Rodgers beat challenger Barbara Lampert.

Rodgers, 48, was raised on the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Hot Springs, Mont. She moved to Spokane in 1986 and became active in neighborhood causes when she fought a supermarket being built in Indian Trail.

She was selected to fill Chris Anderson’s vacated council seat in February.

“Being appointed is fine,” Rodgers said from her victory party at a supporter’s East Central home, “But now I have the support of the people.”

Rodgers has recently been the lone dissenting vote on the council, asking that the city’s participation in a downtown development project be put to a vote and opposing the Lincoln Street Bridge.

If elected, Rodgers has said her first goal will be finding money to fix the city’s ailing infrastructure, particularly streets.

“I come from a culture where you do what’s right for the community,” Rodgers said of her role on the council.

Lampert, 51, has promised to run for elected office every year until she wins or turns 70. City Council, county freeholder and state Legislature are among the offices she’s attempted, but lost.

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