Mayor Dennis Hession praised the Washington Legislature on Wednesday for its vote granting same-sex couples some of the legal rights that married couples have.
“It’s a great day for the state of Washington,” he told a lunch gathering of the Inland Northwest Business Alliance, a gay and lesbian business organization.
He noted that the state decision follows Spokane’s approval of domestic partner benefits in 2005. The city ordinance extends insurance and pension benefits to unmarried partners of non-union city employees and all employees if city unions negotiate for the right.
Hession and the other two declared candidates for mayor, council members Al French and Mary Verner, supported the city’s domestic partner ordinance.
The mayor also addressed job growth and other city issues in his 20-minute talk.
The state House of Representatives approved the partner bill Tuesday. Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the legislation.
– Jonathan Brunt
Residents can question officials
Spokane Public Schools officials will take questions from residents during the district’s live call-in television broadcast tonight.
School Board President Christie Querna, Vice President Garret Daggett and Director Sue Chapin will join Superintendent Brian Benzel in answering education-related questions during “Educating Spokane” on KSPS, Spokane Public Television.
The hourlong program, broadcast four times a year on channel 7, starts at 7 p.m.
To ask questions during the show, call (509) 354-7711.
– Sara Leaming
LaRocco to run for U.S. Senate
Former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco formally announced Wednesday – via webcast – that he’s running for the U.S. Senate.
LaRocco, a Democrat who served two terms representing the 1st Congressional District, posted a video on his Web site, www.laroccoforsenate.com, saying he’ll seek the seat now held by Idaho’s senior senator, Republican Larry Craig. Craig hasn’t yet said if he’ll seek re-election in 2008.
The announcement was just the latest example of the growing role of the Internet in Idaho political campaigns. Past candidates have used the medium for fundraising, advertising and live chats with prospective voters.
In his announcement, LaRocco said he wants “a new direction based on the core Idaho values of independence, accountability and responsibility.”
Also in the race is Republican Robert Vasquez, a Canyon County commissioner who announced months ago that he’d take on Craig in the GOP primary due to his differences with Craig over immigration issues; since then, Vasquez also has applied for an open legislative seat in District 10, where Rep. Bob Ring, R-Caldwell, retired.
If Craig chooses to retire, many other candidates are likely to jump into the race for a shot at a rare open seat in the U.S. Senate.
Among those considering it is Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, a Republican who just faced LaRocco in the November lieutenant governor’s race.
– Betsy Z. Russell