Deer Park City Councilman Doug Box has resigned from his position and withdrawn from the mayor’s race in the North Spokane County town.
Box said he based his decision on personal and health reasons.
“It’s not a life-threatening illness I’m facing,” Box said on Wednesday. “It concerns the emotional health of my family.”
Box declined to give specifics.
“It’s with great sorrow that we have chosen to do this,” he said.
Box’s decision stunned many in the community.
“I was very surprised,” said Mike Wolfe, Box’s opponent in the mayoral election.
Box is a 38-year-old service manager for ICON office systems in Spokane. He had been campaigning since January.
Even though he’s out of the race, Box could still be elected mayor because his name is on the ballot.
“This will undoubtedly cause confusion among voters,” Wolfe said. In fact, some people have already turned in absentee ballots, said Spokane County auditor Bill Donahue.
If he’s elected, Box would have to officially resign as mayor. The city council would then have to appoint someone to the position.
Wolfe, 54, served as a city councilman during the 1980s. He said one of his top priorities, if elected, will be to make sure Deer Park has a good public image.
“Twenty-five years of doing things the right way can all change in a period of 30 seconds,” Wolfe said. “It’s important to keep the news positive.”
Deer Park has worked to distance itself from a problem a year ago when outgoing Deer Park Mayor Bob Dano became embroiled in a dress-code controversy with four women in his office.
The women filed a grievance with the Teamster’s union claiming Dano’s criticism of their wardrobe was harassment.
Despite the bad press, Wolfe said good things are in place there. Now, the town just needs someone who will capitalize on them, he said.
“We have a good school district, sewer system, an improved highway system, railroad, an airport for small commercial jet liners and lots of land (for sale) at a reasonable price,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe acknowledges, however, that Deer Park doesn’t offer enough entertainment facilities to draw small businesses to the area.
“We still are lacking there, there’s no getting around that,” Wolfe said. “But we can appeal to those companies in towns like us where the people appreciate the things to do in the outdoors maybe even more than they do things in town.”
Deer Park is going to change regardless of whether its citizens want it to or not, both candidates said. However, residents and merchants have the ability to dictate the kinds of changes that take place.
Helen Cragun is running unopposed for Box’s position on the city council. Dano will ask the council to bring Cragun on to the board early, as she’ll likely win the election.
And councilwoman Patricia Barden’s term expires; she is running unopposed.