In the six-way race for Spokane Valley City Council Position 6, unofficial results indicate longtime incorporation supporter Ed Mertens and planning commissioner Bill Gothmann will move on to the general election.
“I think it’s really a vote of confidence in the city and the City Council,” said Gothmann, 67.
Both he and Mertens have said they admire the way the new city has come together.
Gothmann had received 24 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night, and Mertens had received 23 percent.
“I’m elated,” said Mertens, 75. “I think my business experience is going to pay off.”
Mertens owned A & M Quality Heating and Air Conditioning in the Valley for 30 years, and said he has strong support from the business community.
He advanced in the 2002 council primary, but was later defeated by Councilman Steve Taylor.
“I think it will be a great race,” Gothmann said.
An electrical engineer and professor at area colleges, Gothmann has not run for office before, but he sits on the Spokane Valley Planning Commission.
“It’s a very humbling experience to have people place that much confidence in you,” he said Tuesday night.
The position left open by Councilman Mike Flanigan also drew 2002 candidate John Kallas and Spokane city planner/grant writer Dale Strom into the race, as well as Ron Lippincott and Chuck Parker.
All seven council seats are up for election in November, but only Position 6 featured a primary race and only two others are contested — a sharp contrast to the city’s first primary, which drew between six and eight contenders for each position, for a total of 49 candidates.
Councilman Mike DeVleming will face Howard Herman, another Valley incorporation organizer for Position 3 in the Nov. 8 general election. Councilman Steve Taylor will face council meeting regular Jennie Willardson, for Position 2.
The four winning candidates with the most votes will receive four-year terms. The remaining three will face re-election after two years in order to stagger the terms.
After the next election, all council terms will be for four years.
Council members Dick Denenny, Rich Munson, Gary Schimmels and Diana Wilhite will remain in office, as no one ran against them.
Some speculate that they will also receive the longer terms because there will only be one choice on the ballot for their positions.
During the primary, candidates and city officials said many people complained that the ballot language for the Position 6 council seat was confusing.
Some people were marking two names on the primary ballot, said county Auditor Vicky Dalton.
“We’ve actually done this before and not had this level of confusion,” she said of the ballot item, which read, “Vote for one – two or four year term.”
Dalton said she will ask the Secretary of State’s office if language clarifying the race can be added to the ballot.