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Snyder, McLaughlin lead in Spokane council races

Results from Tuesday’s two Spokane City Council primary races were a landslide and a battle too close to call.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin easily topped a list of five challengers for her seat representing Northwest Spokane, winning a whopping 56 percent of the vote. Counting is not complete, but McLaughlin likely will face Karen Kearney, a community volunteer, in the November election.

On the city’s south side, Jon Snyder, publisher of Out There Monthly had a small lead over incumbent Mike Allen in the first voter tally on Tuesday. The candidate who comes in first after counting is finished next week won’t win much more than bragging rights: both will move on to the primary.

In other races, both incumbents on the Spokane School Board came in first to move on to the general election.

After counting on Tuesday, Snyder led Allen by 46 votes.

“We’re happy to have the most votes this evening, and we’re excited about going on to the general election,” Snyder said.

Allen, a former Eastern Washington University administrator, was appointed to his seat about 20 months ago.

“It looks like it’s a bit of a horse race,” Allen said Tuesday night.

Allen also faced a challenges from Kristina Sabestinas, the deputy district director for the Spokane office of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash, and former City Councilman Steve Eugster.

Sabestinas, who finished third, said Tuesday night that she would wait for more counting before deciding to concede. As the campaign heated up, Sabestinas gave birth to her son, Jonathan, on July 29.

“I was actually back out (campaigning) a few days after I had the baby,” she said.

Snyder, who won the endorsement from the local Democratic Party, has out-paced Allen in campaign fund-raising almost three-to-one.

Eugster, who ran a low-budget race, finished fourth with 16 percent. His message focused on bringing the city back to basics instead of working on “good things” – niceties that aren’t necessary to the daily operations of a city.

In the northwest district, Kearney, a former bank manager, said she won’t be intimidated by McLaughlin’s tally. Kearney appears to have enough votes to beat John Waite and move on to the general election.

“I’ll continue working hard to get the issues out there,” she said from her campaign party at Working Class Heroes Bar and Grill.

McLaughlin said she was humbled by the results.

“I am just so honored and overwhelmed that the voters would give me such high marks in a primary,” McLaughlin said from her campaign gathering at Round Table Pizza.

McLaughlin has raised more than $30,000 for her campaign – more than three times as much as Kearney’s total. She has received strong financial support from business and development sources.

Kearney and McLaughlin have strong ties to the local GOP party, but Kearney distanced herself from the Republican label in the primary and won strong backing from unions.

Waite, who owns Merlin’s, a downtown comic book, game and science fiction store, tried to position himself as the fiscally responsible, progressive choice for disaffected Democrats. His low-budget campaign was behind Kearney by about 3 percentage points after Tuesday’s count.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. Aug. 19, 2009

Steve Eugster1,679 / 15.21%
Greg Ridgley362 / 3.28%
Mike Allen3,111 / 28.18%
Kristina Sabestinas2,365 / 21.42%
David Elton219 / 1.98%
Jon Snyder3,303 / 29.92%
Council District 3
Nancy McLaughlin5,578 / 56.33%
Victor D. Noder287 / 2.9%
Karen Kearney1,581 / 15.97%
Christopher P. Stevens459 / 4.64%
Barbara Lampert725 / 7.32%
John Waite1,272 / 12.85%