County commissioner candidate Steve Salvatori says a weekend “attack” mailing by rival Al French improperly put words in his mouth.
“Steve says, ‘Zoom,’ ” according to the mailing, which facetiously shows Salvatori and fellow Republican candidate Jeff Holy standing on the track at the Spokane County Raceway in orange jumpsuits and racing helmets.
“Jeff says, ‘V-room,’ ” according to Holy’s speech bubble in the campaign card.
The message concludes that “only Al French says stop wasting tax dollars on a raceway.”
“The mailer implies that both Jeff Holy and I advocate spending taxpayer dollars on the Spokane Raceway and that Al is the only Republican against it,” Salvatori said in a news release.
Asked for his view of French’s advertisement, Holy said, “I’m taller than that.”
Holy said French’s characterization was wrong but, “if I can just focus on what I need to accomplish rather than the noise out there, I’d rather do that.”
French, a former Spokane city councilman, said his mailing was “a statement of position,” not an attack. Salvatori “just simply doesn’t know what he is advocating for,” French said.
Neither does Holy, French said, noting Holy agrees with Salvatori that the controversial raceway should operate as a self-sustaining “enterprise” fund.
If an enterprise doesn’t generate enough income to cover its costs, it must either shut down or find the money somewhere else – such as the county general fund, French said.
Salvatori conceded that an enterprise fund can’t guarantee solvency. But, he said, “it’s a bit of a lock box” that might discourage commissioners from spending general fund money on the raceway.
French also criticized Holy’s interest in subsidizing the raceway with surplus money from enterprise operations such as golf or the fairgrounds.
“I am sure that golfers in the community would love to see their revenue used to support a racetrack operation,” French said.
The raceway currently is a general fund program of the Parks Department, but county officials plan to reimburse the general fund and use real estate and rental car taxes to pay off $7.1 million in bonds.
The bonds, to be issued later this month, will cover the cost of acquiring and improving the raceway. The county’s 10-year contract with the raceway operator guarantees only $73,346 a year in income.
Salvatori said he would have voted against a $588,500 appropriation Tuesday to realign the road course, separating it from the drag strip and eliminating the need for office traffic to cross the course.
Incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager, who voted against buying the raceway, was alone again Tuesday in opposing the new expenditure.
French and Holy said they didn’t want to be “Monday morning” or “armchair” quarterbacks.
Otherwise, interviews with French, Salvatori and Holy indicate their positions on the raceway are similar. None of them would have bought it in the first place, and all of them say they want to sell it when the economy improves.