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Candidate Is His Own Worst Enemy

Tue., Sept. 2, 1997

When we last visited Citizen Phil Kiver, his runaway mouth was tripping up his race to become Cheney’s youngest mayor.

During my two hours with him, he picked a fight and swore at a city official, referred to himself as a “sex symbol” and expressed his rapture at seeing his name plastered on signs all around town.

“This whole campaign is about ‘Dig me!”’ said Kiver, revealing his real motivation for entering politics at the tender age of 20.

A brash yap may be the least of this narcissistic pop tart’s problems now.

Cheney’s prosecutor is deciding whether or not to file criminal charges against Kiver in what is fast becoming the most bizarrely enjoyable campaign of the political season. Kiver - who has based his low-budget mayoral quest on disparaging Cheney officials as a gang of corrupt nincompoops - could be charged with stealing one of his opponent’s signs and then filing a false stolen car report to cover his tracks.

The two gross misdemeanors are a step below felonies. Each crime carries a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.

“It’s kind of poetic justice,” concedes police Sgt. Larry Smith. “If he were a nicer person it probably wouldn’t get the reaction it does.”

“We’re enjoying it,” confesses city administrator Jim Reinbold, amid laughter. “We can’t wait to come to work. I just hope I survive the campaign.”

Kiver (pronounced Kee-ver) wouldn’t confirm or deny the charges. The son of Eastern Washington University geology professor Eugene Kiver promised to answer all questions honestly in a 7 p.m. debate tonight at Sutton Park.

It could be a wild show. This loose cannon gives you the impression that he, least of all, knows what he will say or do next.

My latest interview was fraught with erratic Kiverisms. After saying “no comment,” the lad launched into a 10-minute blab session that focused - ala O.J. - on legal technicalities rather than innocence.

At one point he realized how much he was blabbing. He then threatened to see me in court if I quoted him. That moment passed and Kiver began blabbing some more.

According to Citizen Kiver, his 15-year-old campaign manger was not advised of her constitutional rights when questioned by police. “My defense will be that I was coerced,” he said. “I’m gonna claim frame-up, police conspiracy and everything.”

Whew. I’ll bet the good citizens of Cheney can’t wait to vote Kiver in the Sept. 16 primary.

The mayoral race took a weird turn last Thursday night. Amy Jo Sooy, one of Kiver’s three opponents, decided to play Columbo in hopes of catching the bum who stole political signs out of her yard for two nights running.

Sooy, who directs the Cheney Chamber of Commerce, went outside with flashlight in hand. She hid behind a tree and at about 10:15 p.m., her Fifth Street stakeout began to pay off.

A small car similar to the kind Kiver drives pulled up and stopped. A young man got out of the passenger side. He removed a Sooy for mayor sign and was taking it to the car when Sooy came running. The car sped off, but not before she got a couple of letters from the license plate.

Sooy went to the police department to file a complaint. About that time Kiver was telephoning in a report that someone had just stolen his car, which, as police would discover, matched the description and license letters Sooy had taken.

Kiver’s car was quickly located. An officer talked to the boy candidate and, according to Kiver, advised him of his rights.

Wow. Stealing. Lying. Political dirty tricks….

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, of course, but if young Kiver is wallowing in this kind of muck at age 20 he can forget being mayor of Cheney.

He’ll belong in the White House.

, DataTimes

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