The speeches were few and short Wednesday night as the new members of the Spokane Valley City Council were sworn in before a packed room of friends, family and supporters.
The crowd included Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick Van Leuven, Spokane County Commissioner Bonnie Mager, Spokane County District Court Judges Gregory Tripp and Richard White and community activist Sally Jackson.
Council member Dean Grafos, who took his seat in December to replace appointed council member Ian Robertson, swore in former planning commissioner Tom Towey, State Sen. Bob McCaslin and re-elected council member Gary Schimmels. Cameras flashed and a loud cheer arose when the swearing in was complete.
Businesswoman Brenda Grassel chose to be sworn in by Schimmels. “When I first decided to run for council, Gary offered to meet with me and immediately endorsed me,” she said after the ceremony. “He took a lot of heat from my opponent and others.”
The two also met often for coffee during the election, she said. “I just felt he had put so much time and effort into my campaign, I wanted to give him that honor.”
During the brief ceremony Grassel also thanked her family and supporters. “We truly want to be your servants,” she said. “We believe that’s the way it should be done.”
Towey stood up to say a few words and joked that McCaslin said he could only talk for two hours. “Five people got together for a common commitment,” he said of the four new and one re-elected council members who ran together on a “Positive Change” slate. “It was a unique campaign.”
He spoke about a person who had approached him during the election and said he was “running with the wrong crowd.” “Issues will come and issues will go,” he said. “One thing that will stay is character.” All the new council members have that character, as well as a “burning desire to serve the people of Spokane Valley. I’ll be honored and privileged to serve with them on the new council.”
Mager spoke briefly after the new council members were sworn in. “I really look forward to working with the new councilmen and councilwomen,” she said.
Schimmels wrapped up the short ceremony with only two words. “We’re ready.”