Bill Gothmann, a planning commissioner and retired electrical engineer, was in the lead for the Position 6 seat on the Spokane Valley City Council Tuesday night, while councilmen Steve Taylor and Mike DeVleming were fending off challengers.
“I’m glad to hear that I’m still ahead,” Gothmann said shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“It has been a great learning experience for me,” he said of the campaign. “One of the just delightful things that’s happened is that it gives you a chance to go out and meet lots of folks.”
About 54 percent of Position 6 votes tallied had gone to Gothmann, with 46 percent going to Valley incorporation organizer Ed Mertens.
Taylor held a comfortable lead over challenger Jennie Willardson for Position 2, with 58 percent of the votes to her 42 percent.
“As I was three years ago, I’m humbled by the people who have supported me,” Taylor said.
“I think it shows that the citizens of the Valley are happy with the job that the council has done for the past three years,” Taylor said.
Fellow Councilman DeVleming was also winning, with 58 percent of votes cast for Position 3, compared with 42 percent for Howard Herman.
DeVleming said he was happy that his “positive” campaign focusing on city accomplishments was a success.
“Fifty-eight percent is very, very satisfying. I am very, very happy with how it came out,” he said.
At the polls, some voters said they considered the council races secondary to the statewide ballot initiatives on issues like indoor smoking and gas taxes.
“It was mostly name recognition,” voter John Mee said of his council picks, after voting at East Valley High School.
At Spokane Valley Baptist Church, voter Pat Riordan said he found one councilman arrogant, but feels that the council has done a good job in its formative years.
“I think they’re doing fine,” he said.
“I think you’d have to like it (holding a council position) because they don’t pay well,” he said.
And that pay isn’t going up anytime soon. About 67 percent voted against a ballot proposition that would have more than doubled council salaries.
Last year, an independent salary commission suggested the higher salaries, to bring pay levels closer to those in similar Washington cities.
Before the council acted on the recommendation, a group of residents led by disincorporation proponent Sally Jackson gathered enough signatures to place the raise on the ballot.
Also on Tuesday’s ballot were four uncontested council seats. Mayor and Position 1 Councilwoman Diana Wilhite, Deputy Mayor and Position 5 Councilman Rich Munson, Position 4 Councilman Gary Schimmels, and Position 7 Councilman Dick Denenny will remain in office.
The four uncontested candidates will serve four-year terms because they received the most votes among the winning candidates. Gothmann, Taylor and DeVleming will face re-election after two years in order to stagger the terms. After the next election, all terms will be for four years.
“I’ll definitely be watchdogging and bringing up issues,” Willardson said of her future political involvement in the city. And, Willardson said, she might run again someday.
Mertens said he will probably retire from a few of his volunteer pursuits and just enjoy life.
As for the election results, “I’m not disappointed. I felt I gave it a good shot, and Bill’s a good man,” he said.
Herman said it’s not likely that he will run again, but that it was a good campaign and he has no regrets.
The mayor and deputy mayor are chosen by the council around the first of the year.
New council terms begin Jan. 1.
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