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Council faces familiar and fresh

Nancy McLaughlin laughs with supporters at Round Table Pizza in north Spokane on Tuesday night after the first round of results showed her leading. 
 (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)
Nancy McLaughlin laughs with supporters at Round Table Pizza in north Spokane on Tuesday night after the first round of results showed her leading. (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)

Political newcomer Nancy McLaughlin trounced former City Councilman Steve Corker in Tuesday’s election to take a seat on the Spokane City Council, replacing outgoing Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers.

McLaughlin’s lead appeared sufficient to hold through the final count of late-arriving ballots. The election will be certified as final Nov. 29.

McLaughlin joins two other council incumbents – Al French and Mary Verner – who won election to seats in northeast Spokane and the South Side, respectively.

“People want a change,” McLaughlin said during a gathering of supporters at a pizza parlor on West Francis Avenue in the heart of her northwest Spokane district.

Corker said the results may be a signal that his viability as a political candidate has passed. Corker lost two years ago in the primary election for mayor.

McLaughlin, 47, replaces Rodgers, who could not run for re-election because of the city’s two-term limit for council members. McLaughlin joins Councilman Joe Shogan in representing District 3.

“I’m so humbled, so honored by the base of support,” McLaughlin told supporters after her lead was first announced. “I just can’t thank everybody enough.”

She said that as a new council member she will be eager to listen to citizens as well as to city officials about what’s best for Spokane.

During the campaign, both McLaughlin and Corker, 64, criticized Mayor Jim West for using his office and computer to seek dates with young men. But the campaign touched on other issues, some controversial.

McLaughlin, who opposed a domestic partners benefits ordinance earlier this year, campaigned on the need for jobs, accountability, safe neighborhoods and ethical conduct at City Hall. With a campaign fund of more than $44,000, she outspent Corker by nearly 4-to-1.

McLaughlin said she was the target of computer-generated dirty tricks during the campaign, possibly the result of her opposition to the domestic partners ordinance as well as her ties to politically active Christian conservatives.

Corker called attention to his experience as a former council member. “She certainly outspent me and had a media blitz” in the latter part of the campaign, he said.

In District 1, French, 54, won a second term on the council over inexperienced challenger Valentina Howard, 41.

French argued for the need to restore financial stability at City Hall, and to change city land use laws to encourage newer styles of mixed-use development. He also is calling for neighborhood planning, including work to get northeast Spokane ready for economic changes that will arrive with a new north-south freeway.

Howard campaigned against taxes, saying someone on the council needs to stand up for the “little people.” She said on Tuesday she will continue to be involved in city government, and may run for office again.

She and some of her supporters gathered at The Comet tavern and restaurant in Hillyard and were joined by Comet owner and Councilman Bob Apple, the other District 1 council representative.

In District 2, incumbent Councilwoman Mary Verner, 49, easily won election to a seat to which she was appointed in 2004 when Dennis Hession became council president. Returns showed her well ahead of insurance agent Dallas Hawkins, 53.

Verner and supporters gathered at the Community Building, 35 W. Main, on Tuesday night, and she was joined by Hession. Councilman Brad Stark holds the district’s other seat.

Verner during the campaign emphasized sustainable economic growth, environmental stewardship, ethics in city government and listening to citizens. She also outspent Hawkins.

“I really think the success of this campaign is a reflection of what the community wants in local government,” she said.


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