September 5, 2009 in City

Disincorporation bid goes by the wayside

Council races now the focus
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Groups seeking to have Spokane Valley voters get rid of the city they created earlier this decade ended their drive to put disincorporation on the ballot.

Susan Scott, of Friends of Spokane Valley, said Friday that her organization and Citizens for Disincorporation are not giving up entirely. They will shift their focus to the City Council campaigns on the November ballot, Scott said. But she acknowledged that the petition drive is over.

“We ran out of time,” Scott said. “We’re backing the candidates in favor of a change in the government we have.”

Dick Behm, of the Spokane Valley Business Association, which was fighting the disincorporation, announced the drive was over in a news release that called for both sides to join in a campaign to create a positive image for the city. The group will continue to distribute its “We ■ Spokane Valley” signs, originally designed to thwart disincorporation, as long as they last, Behm said.

Disincorporation supporters needed 24,000 valid signatures, or half the city’s voters, on petitions within a six-month period to qualify the proposal for the ballot. It’s a high standard, which is one of the reasons disincorporation of a city is rare in Washington state. The last successful disincorporation effort happened in 1972, in Westlake, a town near Moses Lake.

Scott estimated the groups gathered more than 16,000 signatures, although some petitions haven’t been turned in yet.

Opponents of the effort said disincorporation has been pushed repeatedly by a vocal minority since the city was formed in 2002.

“We would like to move on and get this behind us,” Mayor Rich Munson said.

Scott said disincorporation forces will now focus on the Nov. 3 election, backing Brenda Grassel against Councilwoman Diana Wilhite, state Sen. Bob McCaslin against Munson, and Dean Grafos against recent appointee Ian Robertson.


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