Election 2009 issues and candidates
State Initiative 1033
I-1033 is this year’s offering from longtime government critic Tim Eyman and seeks to rein in state, county and city governments by restricting how much they can increase spending from year to year. It sets up a formula for spending increases that uses inflation and population growth. To go over that limit, the government would need voter approval. Anything more than the prescribed limit collected by the state, county or city is put into a special fund that is returned to property tax owners in that jurisdiction the next year through rebates.
Eyman’s signature-gathering operation collected some 315,000 names to put it on the ballot. He argues this is a reasonable restriction to put on big-spending governments because their budgets would be allowed to grow faster than the average household’s, and anything above that is possible if they can convince voters.
Opponents in some of the affected governments argue that the formula doesn’t allow for growth of programs they can’t control outside inflation and population, such as sharp increases in health care costs or social services in the recession. Requiring the state, county or city government to rebate what they don’t spend would also make it difficult to carry over surpluses that give them better bond ratings. Some nonprofit agencies also oppose the initiative, saying education and corrections might be spared and future cuts would fall disproportionately on social services.
Eyman’s campaign organization, Voters Want More Choices, has raised $670,000, with $300,000 coming from Michael Dunmire of Woodinville and $25,000 from Kemper Holdings LLC of Bellevue.
The No on I-1033 Committee has raised $2.65 million, including some six-figure contributions in recent weeks. Among its top donors are $300,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, $300,000 from the National Education Association, $265,000 from the Service Employees International Union and $100,000 from Bill Gates.
State Referendum 71
For several years, the state has expanded the rights of couples in domestic partnerships, most often same-sex couples or seniors who live together without getting married for financial, tax or other reasons. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved a bill that gave a person in a domestic partnership some of the same rights as a married spouse, including the ability to use sick leave to care for a partner, to receive wages and benefits if a partner is injured or unpaid wages if a partner dies, and some of the same rights for adoption, child custody and child support.
Although state law says marriage is still limited to one man and one woman, opponents of this legislation saw it as a step away from allowing same-sex marriage. They filed a referendum petition to overturn the law before it could take effect.
While opponents say the law goes too far – and use the term marriage in their campaign literature – some gay rights advocates say the law doesn’t go far enough because it does not allow them to marry.
There is one thing for voters to remember about the wording of the referendum. Although opponents of the law gathered signatures to put it on the ballot, they actually are calling for a no vote on the ballot measure. Those who support the new changes and fought the petition campaign are the ones calling for a yes vote.
Each side has two political committees.
Vote Reject on R-71 reported slightly more than $200,000 as of early October, with all but $40 coming from the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington or its action committee; Protect Marriage Washington raised about $60,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.
Washington Family Rights Campaign reported nearly $1.2 million, with the largest contributions $100,000 from Microsoft, $60,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign and $25,000 each from Bill Gates and Microsoft CE0 Steve Ballmer. Human Rights Campaign Approve R-71 reported almost $79,000, with the biggest contribution $10,000 from the Human Rights Campaign.
House of Representatives, 9th Legislative District Position 1: This southeastern Washington legislative race is unusual for two reasons. It’s a rare off-year election needed to fill the opening created when Republican state Rep. Steve Hailey died and his temporary replacement, Don Cox, decided against seeking the full remainder of the term; it also features two Republicans. The district is the state’s second largest, extending from southern Spokane County to the Oregon border and from Idaho to Adams and Franklin counties. It’s also the only one with two state universities. Pat Hailey of Mesa and Susan Fagan of Pullman came out of a five-way primary in which all candidates ran as fiscal conservatives who support smaller government. Even the lone Democrat had previously run as a Republican.
The job pays $42,106 per year, plus health care benefits. The winner would have to run again in 2010 to hold onto the seat.
Hailey, 61, who is looking to occupy the seat her late husband held, operates the family farm outside Mesa. She wants the state to cut waste and not spend what it doesn’t have.
Fagan, 61, who has worked as a congressional aide, left her job at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories to run. She said the Legislature should have cut more this year rather than taking federal stimulus money and urges a “priorities of government” study to determine future cuts.
City ballot measures
Proposition 1: The Spokane City Council voted in August to place this question on the ballot. It’s a $33 million fire bond that will replace a fire tax, passed in 1999, that expires at the end of the year. The new tax would cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $27 a year, about $10 more than the expiring tax. Most of the money would be used for new trucks and equipment and maintenance on stations. About $6 million would be earmarked for new stations. Fire leaders have said locations could be Latah Valley, West Plains, Five Mile Prairie or Moran Prairie.
Proposition 2 & 3: The Spokane City Council placed these questions on the ballot in response to the Community Bill of Rights, which is Proposition 4. The questions ask voters if they prefer to raise taxes or cut services to pay expenses associated with Proposition 4, if it passes. Supporters of Proposition 4 argued that the council’s decision to place these two questions on the ballot was made simply to influence the outcome of Proposition 4. Opponents said that the questions were needed because the ballot language for Proposition 4 is biased in favor of the initiative.
Proposition 4: This initiative would create 10 citizen rights known as the Community Bill of Rights. Those include rights related to banking, health care, energy, unionizing, neighborhoods and the environment.
Supporters say the proposal is an attempt to create quality jobs and empower citizens. They say that without these rights, citizens have lost out to bankers, developers, big business and politicians.
Opponents say the proposed amendments to the City Charter were written in a way to ensure constant lawsuits that will more likely halt progress on the goals listed in the proposition and will drive businesses and jobs elsewhere.
Spokane City Council
Three of the seven seats representing Eastern Washington’s largest city are up for grabs in November’s election. Among the hot issues in the races are Proposition 4 (though all six candidates say they will vote against the initiative), the city’s budget and forecast deficits, the condition of streets and the powers of Spokane’s new police ombudsman.
The positions, which have four-year terms, pay $30,000 a year plus health care benefits.
District 1: Northeast Spokane
Just two people, Mike Fagan and Amber Waldref, filed for the position – leaving it the only council seat that didn’t require a primary election in August.
Fagan, 49, is co-director of Voters Want More Choices, a political action committee led by Tim Eyman that seeks to limit government spending. He cites his longtime volunteer neighborhood work in Hillyard as representative of his commitment to the city. Fagan, who was endorsed by the Republican Party, says that he will “hold the line” on taxes and that he prefers employee layoffs over tax or fee increases to balance the budget. He opposed creation of a police ombudsman position, though since it exists, he believes it should have investigatory power.
Web site: www.electmikefagan.vpweb.com
Waldref, 32, is development director for The Lands Council in Spokane. She questions Fagan’s devotion to state initiatives that she says have limited city revenue and hurt city services. She says that a tax increase “is not the answer” to the city’s current budget woes, but said pledging never to raise taxes would be “irresponsible.” Waldref, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party, supports creation of the ombudsman position and says it should have investigatory power.
Web site: www.voteamber.org
District 2: South Spokane
This race between incumbent Mike Allen and Jon Snyder has focused in large part on development plans for big-box stores in southeast Spokane. Snyder came on top in the primary, with Allen close behind in a six-way race.
Allen, 42, was formerly Eastern Washington University’s corporate and foundation relations director. Last year, he voted in support of rezoning land near Palouse Highway and Regal Street to allow construction of big-box stores. He says he worked with neighbors and developers for a fair compromise that will allow the city to benefit from growth while still protecting the neighborhood from blight. On the council he voted against the contract for the city’s largest union, citing budget concerns. Allen, who calls for greater fiscal responsibility, calls himself a moderate with the ability to work with all sides.
Web site: www.votemikeallen.com
Snyder, 40, is publisher of Out There Monthly. Snyder criticizes Allen’s support for rezoning land near Palouse Highway and Regal, arguing that the change will hurt existing businesses and neighborhood centers and that Allen and the City Council caved to developer interests instead of waiting until neighbors had a chance to craft a neighborhood- specific, long-term growth plan, as called for in the city’s comprehensive plan. Snyder, who won the endorsement of the Spokane County Democratic Party, says as a small-business owner he has important financial background for the job and will bring an energetic voice to the district.
Web site: www.votejonsnyder.com
District 3: Northwest Spokane
Incumbent Nancy McLaughlin won big in the primary, capturing 56 percent of the vote against five other candidates.
Karen Kearney, 57, is a former member of Spokane’s Human Services Advisory Board and a former regional operations manager at Capital Savings Bank in Seattle. She says the district needs a council member who is more engaged in the community and questions McLaughlin’s work as an officer with the Association of Washington Cities, saying it pulls McLaughlin from duties within the council district. She says she supports the new police ombudsman and giving the position investigatory power.
Web site: www.karenkearney.net
McLaughlin, 51, is co-owner of D-Mac Construction, a kitchen and bath remodeling company. McLaughlin, who has been endorsed by the Spokane Republican Party, says her fiscally conservative positions and votes have helped the city increase reserves and improve its bond rating. She cites involvement with Association of Washington Cities as extremely beneficial to the city because of the group’s legislative and other efforts. She voted against some employee union contracts, arguing that the city could not afford proposed pay increases. She voted in favor of creating the police ombudsman position and says it should have investigatory power.
Web site: www.re-electnancy.com
Spokane Municipal Court judge
Just one of the seats on Spokane’s new Municipal Court, created when the city split from Spokane County District Court following a legal battle over how judges were elected, features a contested race. Judge Tracy Staab was among those appointed when the court was created 10 months ago, and local attorney Bryan Whitaker is trying to make her stay as judge a short one. Whitaker has made an issue out of Staab living outside Spokane city limits despite the fact that state law allows such an arrangement. Staab is emphasizing her experience and a better rating by the Spokane County Bar Association, which rated her “well qualified,” compared to Whitaker’s “qualified” rating. The position pays $120,394 a year.
Staab, 41, has been a Municipal Court judge since January. She has been practicing law for 16 years after graduating in the top 10 percent of her class at the Seattle University School of Law. She has worked as a prosecutor, defense attorney, college instructor, judicial law clerk and civil attorney, according to her campaign Web site.
Whitaker, 47, is a 1995 graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law. He has been in private practice since then in Spokane, mostly in criminal law, according to his campaign Web site. Before becoming an attorney, he spent about 10 years in the U.S. Air Force working as a linguist.
Spokane School Board
One of the state’s largest school districts features two contested races.
Position No. 4
Challenger Laura Carder, 62, is a semi-retired computer programmer with degrees in music and math. She originally got her degree in elementary education but later focused on computers. She wants to move sixth-graders into middle school and to include creationism in science curriculum. Her plan to save money involves cutting mid-levels of bureaucracy.
Incumbent Rocky Treppiedi, 57, has been elected to the board twice. Treppiedi, also known for his role as an aggressive assistant city attorney, says his experience and credibility with state lawmakers and education leaders is an asset to District 81. A father of three, Treppiedi is an advocate of all-day kindergarten, which he believes could decrease the dropout rate. His priorities include increasing student achievement and guarding taxpayer dollars.
Position No. 3
Challenger Heidi Olson’s eight children went to Spokane Public Schools, and the 62-year-old has several grandchildren in the school system. She has a master’s degree in education and has been certified to teach primary and secondary education. She has taught in public schools, at the Institute for Extended Learning and at Eastern Washington University. She wants to decrease the number of high school dropouts.
Incumbent Jeff Bierman, 41, is a physics professor at Gonzaga University with three children attending Spokane public schools. He was appointed to the board 2008 and wants to continue working to improve academics and student achievement.
This sprawling suburb, the state’s seventh-largest city, features contested races for three council seats at a time when Spokane Valley is struggling to develop its own identity. Key issues facing the city include whether it should continue contracting for municipal services, such as law enforcement and road maintenance, or create its own departments. The city also has faced persistent but unsuccessful disincorporation efforts. Council members are paid $750 per month; the mayor – who is a council member chosen by other council members for the post – gets $975 per month.
Council Position 1: Incumbent Diana Wilhite, who spent three years as Spokane Valley’s mayor, is being challenged by Brenda Grassel, who is among the bloc of candidates critical of the fledgling city’s progress.
Wilhite, 60, co-owner of Safeguard Business Systems and a former aide to two congressmen, favors continued contracting for city services but with regular review of the advantages. She also favors examining the benefits of building a new city hall rather than continuing to spend money on rent, but would move forward only with voter approval. Web site: www.votewilhite.com.
Grassel, 43, co-owner of Precision Cutting Technologies, favors a salary freeze at city hall, noting that the city manager’s $166,102-a-year contract seems overly generous during such tough economic times. Like her opponent, she supports continued contracting for city services, particularly the law enforcement contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Web site: www.votebrendagrassel.com.
Council Position 2: Four candidates are seeking this seat, which former Councilman Steve Taylor vacated this summer. All candidates who filed are appearing on the general election ballot because the filing period was after the August primary election when crowded races are typically narrowed to the top two vote-getters. They are:
Ian Robertson, 72, a retired pastor and planning commission chairman who was appointed to fill the seat until the general election. He promises to eliminate government waste and aggressively explore public-private partnerships to provide the best services. Web site: www.voteianrobertson.com.
Dean Grafos, 66, a developer and leading critic of the city’s Sprague-Appleway revitalization plan who also was among the largest contributors to a recently failed disincorporation drive. He promises smaller government, greater fiscal responsibility and less reliance on outside consultants. Web site: www.votedeangrafos.com.
Edward B. Pace, 62, also a retired minister. He promises smaller government and lower taxes, explaining road maintenance, improvements and snow removal should always given priority over projects such as building a new “downtown” area. He also says he’s open to considering disincorporation. Web site: www.edpaceforcouncil.blogspot.com.
Ed Foote, 36, a substitute teacher, who wants to bring light rail to Spokane Valley. He opposes disincorporation efforts and questions whether the taxpayers are getting the best deal possible from the city’s reliance on its existing contractors for municipal services.
Council Position 5: This race features a showdown between incumbent Rich Munson, currently serving as mayor, and Republican state Sen. Bob McCaslin, who has spent nearly three decades in the Washington Legislature. If elected to the council post, McCaslin hopes to be excused during legislative sessions but promises to return to Spokane Valley for major votes if needed.
Munson, 66, is a retired stockbroker, says Spokane Valley has made tremendous strides and promises to keep the city moving forward. He supports the Sprague-Appleway revitalization, provided voters get final say over any plan that requires outside money or its own bond measure, and believes a new city hall should be considered in the future but that renting office space is fine for now.
McCaslin, 83, spent 18 years at Kaiser and later worked in the real estate industry as well as serving in the Legislature. He promises limited government and supports putting disincorporation of the city to a public vote. He wants to rescind a recently enacted 6 percent telephone tax, and believes the city manager’s salary is excessive.
Other notable races
Many of Spokane County’s smaller towns and cities, particularly on the West Plains, feature contested races this fall as well.
Three seats on the City Council are contested in November, including the position that serves as the city’s mayor. Council terms are four years. Pay for council members climbs to $500 per month in January; the mayor will be paid $2,000 per month.
Council Position 1: Incumbent Mayor Matthew S. Pederson is being challenged by Patrick D. Rushing.
Council Position 2: Steven Lawrence and Barron Williamson are facing off.
Two city council seats and the mayor’s office feature contested races. Council members are paid $310 a month; the mayor earns $10,500 a year. All terms are four years.
Mayor: Incumbent C. Allan Gainer is being challenged by Councilman and former Mayor Tom Trulove.
Council Position 1: Fred Pollard and Graeme Webster are facing off.
Council Position 3: Incumbent Mike McKeehan is being challenged by Kathleen A. Warren.
Two council seats and the mayor’s office are up for grabs.
Mayor: Incumbent Robert D. Whisman is being challenged by Jack E. Wichterman.
Council Position 1: Incumbent Dee Cragun is being challenged by Mary Babb.
Council Position 3: Incumbent Ella Harper is being challenged by Fred Senn.
Voters will decide two contested city council races.
Council Position 2: Josh Beckett and Cristella Kaminskas are facing off.
Council Position 4: Incumbent Oden K. Lanford is being challenged by Jason M. Adelmann.
A council seat and the mayor’s office feature contested races. The mayor is paid $700 per month.
Mayor: Incumbent John Higgins is being challenged by Laura L. Parsons.
Council Position 3: Arthur (AJ) Burton and Angie M. Keith are facing off.
Three council seats and the mayor’s office feature contested races in this southern Spokane County town. The mayor is paid $125 per month and council members earn $100 per month.
Mayor: Incumbent Edward Huber is being challenged by Ron Rogers.
Council Position 2: Incumbent Mary Branon is being challenged by Monica Szep.
Council Position 4: KayDee Gilkey and Varlier Spurrell are facing off.
Council Position 5: Incumbent Karrie Stewart is being challenged by Brian Kauffman.
The mayor’s office is the only contested race in this town this fall.
Mayor: Edward Chuck Crockett and Teresa L. Galvin are facing off.
Two council seats and the mayor’s office feature contested races. Council members are unpaid.
Mayor: Incumbent Gary Wagner is being challenged by Councilwoman Micki L. Harnois.
Council Position 1: Former council members Stan Seehorn and Howard Brutschy are competing for a return trip to the council.
Council Position 2: Steve Meyer and Thomas M. Smith are facing off.
Kootenai County Jail
A pair of measures on the November ballot for Kootenai County voters marks the county’s third attempt in four years to address jail overcrowding. The ballot measures also constitute the county’s last opportunity to expand the jail using a local-option sales tax. The first measure asks whether bonds should be issued for $57 million to be repaid over 10 years to expand the jail. That measure stresses that the bonds only would be issued if voters also approve an increase in the sales tax. The second measure asks if the county should raise the sales tax by a half-cent for 10 years – to 6.5 percent – to fund both property tax relief and the jail expansion. County Finance Director David McDowell said preliminary projections show that about $136 million would be raised by the increase over the 10-year period, enough to finance the jail, with interest, and provide $68 million in property tax relief.
City of Coeur d’Alene
Two candidates are vying for the chance to lead this growing city, the largest in North Idaho and the seat of Kootenai County. Managing city finances in a time of economic downturn and creating more jobs to replace those that have been lost are issues at the forefront of this race. The position pays $32,400 a year. The candidates are:
Sandi Bloem, 66, the city’s two-term incumbent and first female mayor. A jewelry store owner and fourth-generation city resident, Bloem says creating partnerships has led to the city’s recent successes building the Salvation Army Kroc Corps community center and the new downtown library. Job creation and fiscal responsibility are her priorities for the next term, she said.
Joseph Kunka, 49, a marketing manager for a biodiesel company. Kunka ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005 and for City Council in 2007. Kunka said Coeur d’Alene needs to shift focus to diversify the job base and to create more living-wage jobs. He’s concerned about gang activity and wants to bring a youth center to the city in which admission fees would be based on improvement in school.
Two candidates are squaring off in each of three open seats on Coeur d’Alene’s City Council. All three challengers have concerns about the city’s urban renewal agency. One wants to retire the Lake City Development Corp.; the other two are calling for more oversight. Incumbents tout new community assets including the downtown library and Kroc community center and stress the need for sound fiscal management. Council positions pay $9,000 annually.
Mike Kennedy, 40, is president of a high-speed Internet company. The first-term councilman wants to implement the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, work to retain and create jobs and continue to improve qualify of life with parks and open space. He wants to see Midtown’s work force housing project become reality. Keeping the city properly budgeted in “chaotic” economic times is a priority, he said.
Jim Brannon, 56, was recently let go as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho. Brannon has run unsuccessfully for council twice before. His top three priorities are: attempting to cut taxes by reviewing all properties held in urban renewal districts, creating jobs through collaboration with other cities and organizations, and examining the budget “line by line.”
Woody McEvers, 61, is co-owner of Rustler’s Roost restaurant. The two-term councilman said the city will need to seek efficiencies to manage with less money. He’ll focus on supporting the education corridor, expanding televised access to city meetings and protecting the water quality of Lake Coeur d’Alene. He said he’s the “voice of the people” because he talks to so many citizens at his restaurant.
Steve Adams, 43, is an insurance agent. Adams said he was inspired to run by Proverbs 12:24 — “the diligent shall bear rule.” He said the council has been “lazy” on the conservative side. He wants to comb the budget to eliminate waste, work hard to attract companies with good-paying jobs and eliminate the urban renewal agency, which he said detracts from the city’s budget.
Deanna Goodlander declined to give her age and works in property management. The three-term councilwoman said North Idaho College produces a $32 million economic impact annually and she wants to expand that by pushing the education corridor project forward. She also wants to use urban renewal funds to address downtown parking and keep the city focused on economic health.
Dan Gookin, 48, is an author who created the “For Dummies” series. He ran unsuccessfully for council two years ago. Gookin said he supports urban renewal, but wants to see the agency “redirected” to job creation and benefiting the “whole public,” for example through infrastructure projects. He said he’d review the budget “line by line” and wants the city to purchase more land for parks and open space.
City of Post Falls
Three candidates are vying for the chance to lead this growing city in Kootenai County where the top issues are job creation and holding the line on taxes. The incumbent touts the city’s growth and economic development in recent years while the challengers criticize the city for what they view as unnecessary spending completed without citizen input. The position pays $18,963 annually.
Clay Larkin, 73, is retired from grocery wholesaling. The mayor since 2001, Larkin says Post Falls has successfully brought numerous new businesses to town and built a new City Hall without raising taxes. He said permit activity is up even in difficult economic times. Larkin said transportation will be at the forefront in the next term as the city works to complete two new Interstate 90 interchanges.
Steven De Gon, 44, is a private investigator. Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, De Gon moved to Post Falls in 2000. A political newcomer, he’s concerned the city is spending money without citizen input. He wants to break up the “good ole boy” network. He also wants to look for ways to cut the budget and would like to help small businesses keep their doors open through tax relief.
Matthew Behringer, 24, is a call center worker. A three-year resident of the area and a political newcomer, Behringer also is concerned about city spending that he views as unnecessary, such as the new City Hall. He wants to recruit more manufacturing jobs by touting Post Falls’ “great work force” and wants to lower property taxes.
Two candidates are vying for each of three open seats on Post Falls’ City Council. Holding the line on taxes and controlling growth are the issues at the forefront of this race. The city, which has attracted its share of new industry in recent years, held the line on taxes when setting the most recent city budget. Challengers, however, say more should be done to keep spending in check. The position pays $7,296 annually.
Ron Jacobson, 53, is a senior vice president for Inland Northwest Bank. A third-generation North Idahoan, Jacobson has served three terms on the council. Jacobson said he’ll be “ever mindful” of taxes and said the city should not take the 3 percent increase it is allowed. He wants to continue to work on bringing in jobs and would like the city to create a reserve fund for emergencies.
Keith Hutcheson, 41, is police chief for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. He’s lived in the area since 1996 and has run twice for City Council. Hutcheson said his top two concerns are taxes and growth. He said growth needs to be better controlled and wonders why subdivisions are approved when so many homes are on the market. He feels the city is run “pretty well,” but said he’ll provide a different perspective.
Joe Bodman, 51, is a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy. The three-term councilman said he wants to continue to hold the line on taxes, but won’t jeopardize public safety through cuts. He wants to help control growth and said two proposed new Interstate 90 interchanges will be a priority for the city in his next term. He said the council is “moving in a positive direction,” and he’d hate to see that change.
Betty Henderson, 77, is owner of a home security caretaking business. The political newcomer married state Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, three years ago. Henderson said she’s “conservative to the core” and wants to know why new growth in the city hasn’t paid for itself. She said the city needs to attract more industry and residential development will follow.
Linda Wilhelm, 53, is a real estate broker. The first-term councilwoman said she wants to help negotiate an agreement “everybody can live with” regarding levels of wastewater discharge into the Spokane River. Current federal environmental standards are “so stringent,” she said. She’d also like to bring more businesses to Post Falls and wants to help secure more benches for Citylink bus stops.
Bob Flowers, 53, is a construction worker. Flowers said he wants to be a councilman who citizens “feel will listen” to them. He doesn’t think the council is representing all of the citizens. “I want everybody to come in and have their say,” he said. Flowers’ top priorities are holding the line on taxes, controlling growth and improving the police department.