November 16, 2005 in City

Budgets are low in recall campaign

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The campaign to decide whether Spokane ousts its mayor has proven to be a low-budget affair thus far.

Jim West is recycling his campaign signs from 2003. His opponents have a television commercial they’re anxious to run, but they don’t have enough money to book the time slots.

West has raised about $15,000, according to the most recent reports on file with the state, with more than a third of it coming from outside the city.

His largest donor is a woman in Hoodsport, Wash., listed by the West campaign as a housewife, who refused to comment on why she was donating to the Spokane mayor’s fund.

“I have no comment on anything you want to ask,” Karin Weaver said this week.

West, his father, Jack, his brother John and his ex-wife, Ginger Marshall of Seattle, have contributed to the campaign. So has Global Credit Union, which supported West’s mayoral bid in 2003.

Ed Neunherz, a spokesman for Global, said he and credit union president Jack Fallis evaluated the contribution after receiving West’s four-page campaign solicitation in late September. They decided West had done “a responsible job as mayor” in his two years in the job and deserved the opportunity to make his case to the voters.

“We are not endorsing the mayor for re-election,” Neunherz said. “We support the recall election and would like to see the decision made, as it’s done in business, with an employee who makes a mistake. The employer decides the punishment.”

To Global, the voters are the employers who decide, he said. The credit union has not been contacted by anyone from the Committee to Recall Jim West, but if it received a written request it would give that the same evaluation.

After Global’s donation was reported last week on a local talk radio show, Neunherz said he fielded calls from four members and two nonmembers criticizing the decision.

“I didn’t change any minds, but they agreed to disagree,” Neunherz said. As of late Tuesday, no one had closed an account and stated it was because of the contribution.

West’s campaign shows a debt of $85,000 to his legal team, which tried to challenge the recall in court. It has spent the most money to date, $3,000, for polling, and has some small expenses for printing and office supplies.

But blue and gold West campaign signs have begun to sprout around the city. The signs, which say “Elect Jim West Mayor,” are left over from his last campaign.

Forces trying to recall West have raised about $2,600 and had about $20,000 worth of graphic design and production work on a commercial donated.

Don Hamilton of Hamilton Photography and Film Co., a member of the recall committee, said he sent the campaign an invoice for what the work would cost if he billed a client.

“I’ve donated a lot of time to a lot of causes in my life,” Hamilton said.

He views this campaign as a question of values based on West’s own admissions about his activities on the Internet with his city computer. “What he has revealed about himself is not what he advertised before” in his mayoral campaign, Hamilton said.

Some of the work went to design the committee’s Web site, www.recalljimwest.com, and much of the rest went to produce a 30-second television commercial the group is trying to raise money to broadcast.

Recall committee chairman and treasurer David Bray said raising money from local business leaders has proved difficult, even though the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council all called for West’s resignation some six months ago. Those business groups, who often contribute to issues but not to candidates, have so far refused to get involved.

“I think the business community should do more than talk,” said Bray, who, like many other committee members, has donated $100 to the cause.

But Bray said he’s not worried about the disparity in money at this point. “I’ve worked on a lot of low-budget campaigns, and you learn how to cut costs.”


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