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Activist starts third disincorporation effort

Thu., Feb. 5, 2009

Jackson seeking volunteers for signature drive

Civic activist Sally Jackson has scheduled a meeting Monday to see whether there’s enough support for a third drive to disincorporate Spokane Valley.

“My guess is there will be,” Jackson said.

She said she wants enough volunteers for a door-to-door signature-gathering canvass in each of the city’s precincts.

Jackson, 77, has been at the center of two unsuccessful efforts to disincorporate the city, starting shortly after the city was created in 2003. That and another drive in 2005 fell far short of the state requirement for a petition signed by a majority of the city’s registered voters.

To get the issue on the ballot, petitioners needed 23,865 signatures in 2005 but said they collected only about 10,000. No petitions were submitted to the county elections office for verification in 2003 or 2005.

If petitions were filed this week, approximately 24,012 signatures would be needed.

Jackson initially supported incorporation, but had soured on it by the time 51.4 percent of voters approved it in 2002. She said she had favored incorporation as a way to “keep the flavor of the Valley” but became convinced that business leaders had a different agenda.

“I realized it was just about the almighty buck,” Jackson said. “That was offensive to me, and it still is. It was offensive to a lot of people.”

She believes incorporation passed – after coming no closer than 44.3 percent in three previous Valley-wide votes and two proposals for smaller cities – because opponents didn’t think they had to vote.

Jackson said the biggest complaint she hears about the new city is that its elected and appointed officials ignore residents.

“No matter how many people show up and complain about something that affects their neighborhood, they don’t listen,” Jackson said.

Also, she said, last year’s imposition of a utility tax on telephone service broke faith with voters. But Mayor Rich Munson thinks the tax, dedicated to street maintenance, has been well accepted.

Munson said he received only one e-mail about the tax.

As for disincorporation, “Let ’em give it a shot,” Munson said. “I’m not sure it’s got any more legs than it did before.”

If voters aren’t happy with the way the city is being run, they may have a better opportunity to make their views known in this fall’s City Council elections, Munson said. He and council members Diana Wilhite, Gary Schimmels and Dick Denenny are all up for re-election.

John Craig can be contacted at johnc@spokesman.com.


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