June 6, 2009 in City

Array of candidates file for City Council

Spokane seats draw interest; 171 file throughout county
By The Spokesman-Review
 

David Elton is under a court order not to attend Spokane City Council meetings. That didn’t stop him from becoming a candidate for the council’s open seat representing south Spokane on Friday.

Elton, who has pleaded innocent to harassment charges after being accused of threatening City Council President Joe Shogan, Spokesman-Review Publisher Stacey Cowles and others, is one of 171 people who filed for public office this week in Spokane County.

Races with at least three candidates will be on the Aug. 18 primary ballot.

Facing Elton will be incumbent Councilman Mike Allen; former Councilman Steve Eugster; Kristina Sabestinas, deputy director of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Spokane office; Jon Snyder, publisher of Out There Monthly; and Greg Ridgley, an 18-year-old high school junior at Gonzaga Prep.

“It looks like we’re going toe-to-toe for interestingness,” Snyder said when evaluating the field in the race.

Competing for the “interestingness” label is the group challenging incumbent Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin for her seat representing northwest Spokane. It includes Christopher P. Stevens, who owns a medical marijuana dispensary called Change; Karen Kearney, a former member of Spokane’s Human Services Advisory Board; John Waite, owner of Merlyn’s Science Fiction and Fantasy store; Barbara Lampert, who has run for office more than a dozen times; and Victor Noder, a former remodeling contractor who is the brother of 2007 mayoral candidate Mike Noder.

Only two candidates filed to run for the seat held by Councilman Al French, who can’t run again because of term limits. The competitors, Amber Waldref, development director of The Lands Council, and Mike Fagan, an anti-tax activist, won’t face off until November.

There also was little interest in serving on the city’s new municipal court. Mayor Mary Verner picked Shelley Szambelan, Mary Logan and Tracy Staab late last year to serve as the court’s first judges. Only Staab faces an opponent.

Bryan Whitaker, a criminal and family law attorney, said he decided to run because a court serving Spokane residents should have judges who live inside city limits.

“It’s about integrity of our municipal government,” Whitaker said.

State law allows municipal court judges to live outside city boundaries. Staab said experience is more important than an address.

“Judges are not representatives like a council person is,” Staab said. “They are like umpires in a baseball game. They are required to be fair and objective.”

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