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Spokane Falls Has Broad Support Poll Finds Residents Overwhelmingly Favor Name Change

If you live in the city of Spokane, you might want to practice writing a new return address: Spokane Falls, Wash.

If it were up to likely voters in Tuesday’s election, the idea of changing the name back to the city’s original moniker would pass overwhelmingly, a new scientific survey shows.

City voters are expected to get a chance to vote on the proposal next spring. Right now, the idea is riding high.

By a margin of better than 5-to-1, voters said they would vote to change the name to Spokane Falls if given the chance.

“I think this is clear-cut,” said Del Ali, an analyst for Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc.

Although the poll shows the idea is equally popular among men and women and among voters above and below age 45, Ali did offer one caution.

The question didn’t mention the cost of such a change because no one has calculated that. No one has campaigned actively against the idea, he added.

The firm conducted a poll on city issues Monday and Tuesday, questioning 423 likely voters for The Spokesman-Review and KHQTV.

At the urging of Councilman Mike Brewer, the City Council said this fall it likely would place the name-change proposal on the ballot next spring.

City Manager Bill Pupo said Wednesday it would be placed on a ballot with proposed changes to the City Charter. City staffers still are studying the potential cost to change such things as stationery, nameplates and road signs, he said.

Pupo, who said last summer he prefers the city’s current name, called the huge margin “pretty amazing.”

The city originally was called Spokane Falls but was changed to simply Spokane in 1891 by city leaders seeking a more cosmopolitan name. When Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark suggested changing the name back in a May column, falls booster Nate Grossman took up the campaign.

“That’s wonderful,” Grossman said of the poll results. “That revives my faith in the sense of the public.”

It matches the response he’s received from the general public when he discusses the name change.

“The majority of Mr. and Mrs. Public are very much for it. The main negative feedback is from people in business who think it’s going to cost them something,” he said.

While the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce has taken no official stand on the name proposal, most respondents to an unscientific chamber poll of its members last month didn’t like the idea.

Grossman argued the cost would not be significant, because the proposal allows for changes to be made as cities and businesses replace their stationery, vehicles or signs. Mail addressed to Spokane would be delivered to the renamed city, he said.

The name change would draw national attention to Spokane’s most notable natural landmark, said Grossman, who convinced Brewer to carry the cause to the City Council.

“This series of falls is the only one in North America running through the center of a metropolitan city,” Grossman said last month.

Supporters will be starting their campaign to change the name in late February or early March, he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: A yes to Falls


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