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Candidate Focuses On Freeway Democrat Craig Peterson Wants Sommers’ House Seat

Tue., March 17, 1998

A former Spokane Human Rights commissioner is running for the Legislature, saying he thinks local residents aren’t getting their fair share for roads and other programs.

Democrat Craig Peterson said Monday he will seek the 6th District state House seat currently held by Republican Duane Sommers.

Peterson believes the state should provide more money for the long-discussed north-south freeway and consider funding a light-rail system and high-occupancy vehicle lanes for Interstate 90.

He’s not sure where the best places for light rail in Spokane would be, and said he would need more time to study whether to add lanes or just designate existing lanes for carpoolers.

“Those are more long-term solutions. The north-south freeway - that’s my top priority,” he said.

Peterson also said the state needs to place limits on how much money an individual or organization can give to political parties and issue groups. It should also ban the practice of paying people to gather signatures for statewide initiatives.

Peterson, 30, works as a loan processor and purchaser for Phoenix Financial. He formerly worked for the Spokane Regional Health District and served for three years on the city’s Human Rights Commission.

He is a gay-rights activist who last year urged his alma mater, Deer Park High School, to adopt an anti-discrimination policy. In 1995, he called for Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend to resign over homophobic comments.

He said he is running against Sommers because the Republican has lost several bids for higher office, including last year’s primary for mayor of Spokane.

“I just don’t think his heart is in (the Legislature),” Peterson said.

Sommers, a seven-year House veteran, hasn’t announced his campaign but said Monday he plans to seek re-election. He did consider retiring late last year after suffering a heart attack, but says he has recovered and enjoys the job.

He characterized the north-south freeway as “a black hole,” but disagreed with Peterson’s description of state funds for transportation. Spokane will get its fair share of funding if voters approve a GOP spending plan in November, he said.

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