Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has her first official opponent in this year’s mayoral race.
Christopher W. Fenton, 32, filed paperwork last month announcing his intention to run for the city’s highest office, becoming the first potential challenger eligible to begin accepting campaign contributions.
Fenton, who works as a lab analyst at Signature Genomics in Spokane, said he began to think about running for mayor after the Spokane Police Department would not respond to three calls in 2009 reporting vandalism in the Logan Neighborhood, where he lives.
He said the lack of response is a sign that the city is failing its citizens and that more police officers need to be hired. He also said he is concerned about the city’s bond debt, including debt approved by voters that was accompanied by property tax increases to pay it off.
Federal records indicate that Fenton has personal experience with debt. He and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2003 owing creditors $58,000.
Fenton said that if elected he would work to speed up paying off the city’s bond debt by selling city property. He said he hasn’t identified any specific city-owned parcels that should be sold.
Fenton is virtually unknown in Spokane’s political circles. He said he considers himself an independent. He has never attended a Spokane City Council meeting or a meeting of the Logan Neighborhood Council but says that he is a serious contender in the mayoral race and will raise money for the campaign.
After moving to Spokane about eight years ago, Fenton earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Whitworth University. He graduated from Brewster High School in 1998.
Fenton, who is married and has two children, owned and operated Xtreme Jet Ski Rental & Parts in Brewster, Wash. He said the main part of the business was repair work of boats, ATVs and motorcycles. He and his wife declared bankruptcy after some of his customers didn’t pay bills and he got behind on debt payments, he said.
With Fenton in the race, the field for Spokane’s mayoral election is growing.
David Condon, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, said this week he is seriously considering a run.
Longtime Spokane TV news anchor Nadine Woodward, who hosts “Good Morning Northwest” on KXLY, said she has been approached about running. Woodward said she isn’t seriously considering a run for mayor but could not rule it out.