November 18, 2007 in City

Perhaps Verner should offer Hession a seat

Jim Camden The Spokesman-Review

Here’s an idea that might annoy both the incoming and outgoing mayors, so it can’t be all bad. It also has some empirical foundation to it.

Why doesn’t the Spokane City Council appoint Dennis Hession to the seat Mary Verner will be vacating when she becomes mayor?

This isn’t as stupid as it sounds. First of all, it was his council seat before it was hers. Those with any institutional memory at all will remember that when Hession won the council president position in 2003, he had to give up his District 2 seat and Verner was appointed to it with his support.

He also supported her election to the seat in 2005. Yes, there was some bad blood over this during the late, great mayoral campaign. But if Hession could support Verner for the seat back then, it seems fair that she could support him for the seat now.

Second, those paying attention to the campaign might recall that Hession supporters made the argument just last month that voters should keep him as mayor and keep her on the council, essentially giving the city the best of both worlds through their experience. If that made sense, so does this.

Third, and perhaps most important, he had more support than she did in the district in the mayor’s race, and darn near as much support as Richard Rush, who beat incumbent Brad Stark for the other council seat.

The online version of this column, which is found at spincontrol, has maps showing the vote breakdowns by precinct for the various city races. A map of the District 2 vote in the mayor’s race shows Hession had his strongest support in the center of the district, in precincts east of Division, and the southernmost areas around Comstock Park and south of 37th Avenue. But even in most precincts that Verner won, Hession got more that 40 percent of the votes.

Overall, he got about 200 more votes than she did in District 2, based on the latest counts.

Finally, and this is admittedly a selfish reason for reporters covering City Hall for the next two years, it might make for more interesting news stories.

More on maps

Poring over precinct results for the election reveals a few other tidbits. The most interesting: It might’ve been the trees that did in City Councilman Brad Stark.

Street trees, that is. The ones that were cut down along Bernard Street when it was resurfaced.

A computer-generated map based on the precinct breakdowns of the District 2 Council race shows that challenger Richard Rush built his victory in the center of the district, piling up majorities of 55 percent or more in the areas bounded by High Drive and Regal Street, between 29th Avenue and the rim of the South Hill. He also did extremely well in Browne’s Addition and the areas north of Sunset Highway.

Stark had more support in Hangman Valley and the southernmost precincts as the city spreads up to Moran Prairie, and along the eastern edge of the city. Some of the Stark precincts are among the heaviest voting areas of the city, but he didn’t pile up the kinds of majorities he needed to overcome Rush’s numbers from neighborhoods just north of there.

Some of Rush’s big margins are found in the neighborhoods angry with the city for the handling of the Bernard Street renovation and anxious that something similar could happen on Lincoln Street.

Maps of the other Spokane council races aren’t as dramatic. In Northeast Spokane’s District 1, Bob Apple won all but two precincts, some with substantial margins over challenger Donna McKereghan. Northwest Spokane’s District 3 was more of a mixed bag, with winner Steve Corker capturing most of the center of the district, Lewis Griffin doing his best around the edges, and the two candidates pretty well splitting the Indian Trails and Five Mile areas.

In the Valley, Rose Dempsey won all but one precinct, so the real question was, by how much? She did best in the northeast and south-central parts of the city, but basically smoked David Crosby just about everywhere.

All the maps are available at the above-mentioned Web site.

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