City Councilwoman Mary Verner is joining the race for Spokane mayor.
Verner confirmed Monday she will run for the city’s top executive spot, campaigning as someone with “positive, decisive leadership,” who has knowledge of City Hall but is not entrenched in the bureaucracy.
“I’m not the stereotypical insider,” said Verner, who is in the middle of her first term. “I’m not stuck in a rut.”
If elected, she said she would work to defuse possible controversies by bringing different groups together, and instill trust between management and labor at City Hall.
The furor over removing trees on South Bernard Street as part of a street-widening project is an example of how where homeowners, engineers and planners should have met early to avoid what she described as “a clash of philosophies.”
“I would have brought all the people together in the same room and asked ‘What is the common ground?’ ” she said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review.
She also questioned Mayor Dennis Hession’s recent announcement that he would not seek to renew the levy lid lift, the two-year property tax measure approved by voters in 2005, and would work to reduce the city’s utility tax. The council’s Finance Committee has not yet studied the mayor’s plan, but Verner said the proposal seems to fly in the face of comments about the budget just a few months ago.
City workers were told at the beginning of the year the city was facing budget deficits in 2008, she said. Now the city seems to be saying that it has money enough that it can cut taxes.
Until the city can be sure the sales tax revenue will continue at 2006 levels, she said it would be better to spend the extra revenue on one-time projects that would save money in the future.
Verner, 50, is a lawyer who serves as executive director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes, a job she plans to keep through the campaign. She is originally from Georgia, and is a member of the Muskogee tribe. She’s divorced with two children, ages 26 and 9, and two grandchildren.
She’ll face Hession and fellow Councilmember Al French in the August primary.