The campaign of Spokane County Commission candidate Bill Burke is hard to miss at this year’s Pig Out in the Park.
Signs adorn the music stages, many Pig Out workers wear his T-shirts and Burke’s campaign ad takes up most of the back page of this year’s program.
Burke, who started Pig Out 25 years ago and who is the main organizer of the event, said his campaign activity at Pig Out highlights one of his accomplishments.
“I like to advertise what we do in Spokane and, if elected, the kind of things I would bring to Spokane,” Burke said.
Burke is running for the District 2 seat that will be vacated by Republican Kate McCaslin. Other candidates for the seat reached on Saturday said they’re not too bothered by the politicking.
Mark Richard, a Republican candidate for the seat, said that Pig Out was billed as nonpolitical. Had he known that Burke would promote his candidacy, Richard said he would have inquired about having a campaign presence there.
“If it were my event I would certainly have my wares there,” Richard said. “I’m mildly disappointed that he didn’t create an opportunity for other candidates.”
Burke’s opponent in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, Liberty Lake City Councilman Brian Sayrs, said he would expect Burke to “take a bow” for being involved in a positive event.
“Mr. Burke is a marketer and these are the kinds of things he does,” Sayrs said. “Meanwhile, I’m out working with the people and finding solutions to regional problems.”
Burke said the costs of promoting his candidacy at the event are separated from other Pig Out costs. The Burke campaign is sponsoring two of Pig Out’s concerts for $17,500. It also is paying for the printing and distribution of Pig Out programs and 500 T-shirts.
Burke’s business, Bill Burke Marketing and Promotions, has a contract with the city of Spokane to hold Pig Out. It gives the city all the profits of nonalcoholic drinks and 15 percent of alcoholic beverage revenue, said Craig Butz, Riverfront Park’s manager.
Burke said about 200 students and parents from North Central High School will work at Pig Out to raise money for its senior all-nighter, an after-graduation party. Pig Out is giving $2,000 to the committee in charge of the party in exchange for cleaning the park. Separately, his campaign is paying $700 to the North Central committee to pass out programs.
Kristina Hoff, a North Central High School Senior who was passing out programs Saturday, said she doesn’t know who she supports in the County Commission race (she won’t be old enough to vote on election day), and she doesn’t mind wearing Burke’s shirt.
“I’m really thankful because it’s really hard for us to find opportunities to get money for our senior all-nighter,” Hoff said.
Hoff and other North Central workers said they were not required to wear the shirt.
Another worker wearing Burke’s shirt, University of Montana student Jon Dodge, said he will vote for Burke.
“If Bill can put something like this on and still play, then he has his stuff together,” Dodge said, as Burke took the stage to play guitar in a band.