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Spokane, Valley mayors’ census bet ends in tie

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, left, and Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey wear shirts from each other's jurisdictions as part of a bet over the returns on the U.S. Census.

Verner, Towey have swapped T-shirts for Bloomsday

Let Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey’s recent bet on the census be a warning to finalize the fine details before agreeing to a wager with Spokane Mayor Mary Verner.

Lest you end up dressed in pink.

Towey and Verner both will have to wear shirts representing the other mayors’ city when participating in Bloomsday on Sunday. The two leaders bet that his or her city would beat the other in the mail-in participation on the 2010 census.

But when mail-in rates were finalized by the Census Bureau this week, the cities tied at 76 percent.

Spokane Valley sent Verner a gray shirt to wear. Spokane sent Towey a pink one. “I really don’t like bright pink,” he said. “But a deal is a deal.”

Photos sent to media outlets of the two mayors show a smiling Verner wearing her Spokane Valley shirt. Towey is smiling in his, but the pink shirt is only draped over his chest.

That 76 percent participation rate tops Spokane’s mail participation in 2000 by one percentage point. This is Spokane Valley’s first census.

Verner is expected to walk Bloomsday, and she is registered for the event, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist. Last year, she walked the course without signing up (or collecting a T-shirt).

Towey, who is training for the Portland Marathon in the fall, has run every Bloomsday since 1987. His best time is 53 minutes. He said in recent years, he runs it closer to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

“Hopefully, I’ll be lost in the crowd and nobody will notice the pink shirt,” Towey said.