As of Friday, the Spokane County Elections Center had received ballots from about 15.5 percent of voters for an election that comes to an end on Tuesday. That figure will go up, but unless voters suddenly wake up this is going to be a sleepy election.
Officials had hoped for a turnout of at least 25 percent, but that’s unlikely. It’s a bad sign for civic engagement when so few people take the time to evaluate their potential leaders. County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin makes some good points on why turnout might be lower this year. For the first time in a long time, there are no ballot issues for voters to consider. Plus, there are fewer contested races. Most voters will only have one race to decide.
Still, it’s distressing when there’s a chance that less than one in five voters will bother.
The Spokesman-Review editorial board has issued three endorsements in the primary. When the top two in each race advance to the general election, we will weigh in again. To read the full text of the primary endorsements online, go to http://www.spokesman.com/tags/ election-endorsement-2013. To summarize:
Spokane City Council District 2: The contestants are LaVerne Biel, John Ahern and Jon Snyder. We think voters should advance Biel and Snyder. Biel is former chairwoman of the East Spokane Business Association and Associated Builders and Contractors and a respected member of the business community. She has the least government experience, but demonstrates a willingness to learn and a keen mind for problem-solving.
Snyder has been an energetic leader who has demonstrated the ability to work with all council members. He has substantial labor support, but said the city might have to test arbitration with public safety employees to push the case that compensation outweighs the community’s ability to pay.
Spokane City Council District 3: The contestants are Kelly Cruz, Candace Mumm, Curt Fackler and Michael Cannon. We suspect Mumm will advance and think either Fackler or Cannon would be solid additions to the council.
Fackler has solid business credentials and realistic ideas to make the city’s budget more sustainable. We like his idea of establishing a second tier of pay for new police officers and firefighters to rein in public safety costs while providing greater service.
Cannon also has a strong background and wants to scrutinize current spending more carefully before approaching voters with revenue requests. He would like to establish a dedicated street fund for future maintenance.
Spokane Valley City Council, Position 4: The candidates are DeeDee Loberg, Ed Pace and incumbent Gary Schimmels. We recommend Loberg and Schimmels.
Loberg would bring a fresh, energetic voice and a passion for planning to the state’s 10th-largest city. She says it’s difficult to weigh spending priorities when there isn’t a long-term strategy to implement. She’s hesitant to spend reserves, but says the Sullivan Bridge project is an exception.
Schimmels, the deputy mayor, is a reliable protector of reserves, which has put him at odds with other council members. He is an independent thinker with valuable governing experience.