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One assessor candidate makes it a signature run

SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2010

The Spokane County assessor’s race is among the area’s most crowded, with five challengers trying to knock off incumbent Ralph Baker for the right to be the name on top of every homeowner’s property tax statement for the next four years.

Sure there’s more to the job, but when most people think about the assessor, that’s what comes to mind: a property tax statement with an assessed value that makes them wonder, “Who the heck came up with that?” And they blame the name at the top.

The race grew to six at the end of filing week. Gina McKenzie, a north Spokane neighborhood activist who helped lead the alley garbage pickup protest a few years ago, filed Friday afternoon as an indigent. That meant she couldn’t afford the $884 filing fee and had to get one valid county voter’s signature for every dollar of the fee.

She arrived at the Elections Office about 1 p.m. with 929 signatures, a cushion of only about 5 percent, and staff suggested that might not be enough. Petition drives usually have a rejection rate of 15 percent or more. They started checking the signatures she had, and she returned with another 56 at 3:36 p.m.

By 4 p.m., they’d verified about 775 signatures and had about 120 more to go. But they also had a problem. The office closed at 4 p.m., and filing was cut off. Did that mean signature verification was also cut off? They called the secretary of state’s office and were told to keep counting. The first run-through left McKenzie with 872 good signatures, but workers double-checked the rejects and found about 23 that passed a second inspection. She made the ballot.

It was an impressive effort on McKenzie’s part, Auditor Vicky Dalton said, with a rejection rate of only about 10 percent.

Not on the ballot, however, is Terry Cook, who previously announced a campaign for assessor. A real estate agent for the city of Spokane and author of apocalyptic books, Cook told my colleague Jonathan Brunt he opted not to run after a newspaper story painted him as a “religious nut.”

The story quoted information from a website that sells his books, noting that one describes President Barack Obama as “an American-hating Muslim/Communist who’s actually a puppet-leader of the Council on Foreign Relations’ international New World Order globalists.” (He planned to run as a Republican, in case you were wondering.) His newest book is apparently called “Murder by Injection: The Swine Flu Vaccine.” He blamed Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles for trying to get him to leave the race.

While Cowles Co. owns the paper, neither Betsy Cowles nor any other member of the family had input on the coverage of Cook. (Or on any of its political coverage, for that matter.)

On the plus side, Cook reported that sales of his book increased after that story ran.

Tweet and re-tweet

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier sent regular updates on his trip last week to the other Washington to drum up support for his campaign against Dino Rossi in the August primary and Patty Murray in the November general. And no one seemed to follow them more closely than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, repeating several in e-mails to the political press corps.

There was one glitch in this repeating, or re-tweeting. An obviously excited Didier wrote: “Just met with Ron Paul. What an inspirational leader! Makes me want to fight harder for Liberty! Pics to come.”

Democrats sent it out with a note that Didier had just met with Rand Paul. Ron is the dad, a member of Congress from Texas. Rand is the son, a doctor who’s running for the Senate in Kentucky. They do look a bit alike, although Ron is, understandably, quite a bit older.

Spin Control, a weekly column by veteran reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos,


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