The race to replace Bob Apple on the Spokane City Council has been winnowed from six candidates to two: Donna McKereghan and Mike Fagan. Both have led neighborhood councils and tasted defeat in previous council races. Both say they are appalled at how the Otto Zehm case has been handled.
One of them will win this time, and we think McKereghan is the clear choice for District 1 in northeast Spokane.
McKereghan has extensive experience in civic matters, particularly in helping the city devise its ethics ordinance. She has served on the state legislative ethics board and is an award-winner for her work in opening up government.
She supports – albeit haltingly – the new $20 car tab fee to help finance transportation projects, but would be open to repealing it if the city finds a better funding source. She also backs the use of red-light cameras. Fagan is on the wrong side of both issues, which is in keeping with his reflexive desire to attack and repeal any revenue generation.
McKereghan isn’t proposing new fees and taxes, but she does have a firmer grasp of the realities of running municipal government. On the other hand, she is against pursuing changes in binding arbitration laws that could bring about more realistic compensation packages for public safety workers.
Fagan is stronger on this key issue, but he is so extreme on most everything else that he comes off as a fringe candidate who would be unable to work with other council members. His idea of compromise is agreeing with others when they come around to his viewpoint. That didn’t occur with the Tea Party of Spokane, so he helped found the Spokane Patriots, a group obsessed with presumed sovereignty intrusions by outside entities, such as the United Nations. His belief that local government should run virtually unimpeded ignores the reality of overlapping county, state and federal jurisdictions and the coordination that’s needed among governments.
Fagan touts job creation by slashing some environmental regulations the city does not entirely control. He touts his “unique skill set” in working with Tim Eyman to battle taxes and fees, but he has no experience in reacting to the changes wrought by those voter initiatives. It’s one thing to pass an anti-government measure; it’s quite another to govern.
McKereghan is correct when she says that the one area where the city can directly create jobs is to rebuild infrastructure. That takes money, and she says she is willing to take the unpopular votes to raise the necessary revenue. Fagan, meanwhile, promises to work on reversing previous fundraising votes.
City Hall does need to run leaner and smaller, but it cannot be powered by automatic “no” votes and anti-government cliches.
McKereghan’s experience, common sense and willingness to work in a nonpartisan fashion make her the better choice for responsible voters.