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Maybe she’ll be our first cereal mayor

SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2010

On Thursday, Mary Verner demonstrated her complete lack of understanding of the dark forces that rule this city by launching her campaign for a second term as mayor of Spokane.

You’d think she would know by now.

This is Spokane. We don’t have two-term mayors.

Not since the great David Rodgers won his second term, anyway. And that was way back in 1973, which will be 38 long years ago by the time the next popularity contest rolls around.

Now that’s some curse.

“I know I can be a good mayor,” Verner told me when I called her Friday morning. “We’ll see if we can break the curse.”

Oh, you precious, naïve dear.

Look, I’m not choosing political sides here. But I like Mayor Mary.

(I like all of our mayors, of course. I consider them my special high-priority targets.)

I told Mayor Mary I’d bring her a good luck charm that would help make the playing field fair. Spokane’s one-term hex is a serious supernatural disadvantage to any mayor intent on staying put.

So after lunch I walked over to City Hall and rode the elevator up to the seventh floor. Mayor Mary wasn’t in, but the mayor’s representative accepted my gift of …

A good-luck box of Lucky Charms.

I know. It’s not exactly a sacred chicken foot blessed by a high voodoo priestess. It’s hard to come up with quality voodoo items on such short notice. Besides, everybody knows Lucky Charms are “magically delicious.”

I personalized my cardboard talisman by gluing a photo of the mayor’s face onto the swirly marshmallow heart charm on the front of the box.

Then I wrote in black Sharpie just under the grinning leprechaun’s right hand: “To Mary, some protection as you attempt to break Spokane’s Curse of the One-Term Mayor!”

Being up in the mayor’s lair on a Friday afternoon was a bit creepy. The place was so empty and dead it could have passed for our newsroom.

But the graveyard quiet gave me an opportunity to wander over to the Wall of One-Term Wonders and gaze upon the photographs of all those revolving-door mayors.

Ah, what memories I have …

1978 – Mayor Ron Bair: A runty former TV news anchor with platform shoes, a mammoth ego and ridiculous fashion sense.

1982 – James Chase: Spokane’s first and only black mayor. A beloved leader, he could have won a second term but didn’t seek it due to ill health.

1986 – Vicki McNeill: She once proclaimed “Doug Clark Muckraker Journalism Day.” That should have been enough to get her a second term, but the unpopularity of her allegiance to the incinerator plant kept her from trying.

1990 – Sheri Barnard: A sweetheart. Sheri loved committees. Sheri loved Sister Cities. Sheri loved being mayor. … Voters can be so fickle and cruel.

1994 – Jack Geraghty: I once wrote that Mayor Geraghty “could win a staring contest with a corpse.” Is it too late to say I’m sorry?

1998 – John Talbott: A buggy, paranoid mayor. He seemed to always be looking over his shoulder in fear that someone was out to get him. Hmm. I haven’t seen Talbott in ages, so maybe they did.

2000 – John Powers: Feeding fat cats chocolate-dipped strawberries on behalf of the downtrodden didn’t win this mayor any repeat-voter love.

2004 – Jim West: OK, we all know what happened here.

2005 – Dennis Hession: Appointed after the West recall. It was like finding out that the top-ranked quarterback you just drafted had never touched a football.

2007 – Mary Verner: Does she have what it takes to defy the Fates?

I figured the Lucky Charms would give her enough mojo for a fighting chance. At least I did until I read the expiration date stamped on top of the box.

March 11, 2011.

Uh-oh. The mayoral primary won’t be held until months after that. There’s a famous phrase for a situation like this.

Curses, foiled again!

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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