A meeting of the three candidates for Spokane City Council District 2 could legitimately be called a small-business convention.
John Ahern and wife Nancy have owned and operated Janco Products, a copier business, since 1983. That was the same year LaVerne Biel and husband Kent moved their family to Spokane. They own and operate Access Unified Networks, a provider of voice and data services to other small businesses. And incumbent Jon Snyder was, until he sold it last month, owner of Out There Monthly.
Only two of this trio can advance from the Aug. 6 primary to the Nov. 5 general election. We recommend voters support either Snyder or Biel.
Biel has the least experience with government, but anyone who earns a master’s degree in business at age 57 can probably catch up.
She is a former chairman of the East Spokane Business Association and Associated Builders and Contractors. She supports a proposed bridge connecting Sprague Avenue to the University District as an economic development stimulant, but questions the potential $16 million price tag.
Biel supports another round of street bonds if they are repaid in 10 years, not the current issue’s 20 years. Although a son is a Spokane County deputy sheriff, she says police compensation must be brought into line with that of average Spokane households.
The U-District, with the West Plains and Kendall Yards, is one of the city areas undergoing the most dynamic growth. All are in District 2.
Snyder helped resolve a minor dispute over bidding work for Kendall Yards. And he has, so far, supported city planning for the bridge over the railroad.
The energetic Snyder notes he has worked with every member of the council to advance one initiative or another. Another example: He was an early supporter of a library levy passed by a nearly two-thirds majority in February.
Although he has received substantial union financial support – a red flag – Snyder says he is willing to take stalled police talks to arbitration, where the city could make a case that compensation exceeds its ability to pay. It’s about time.
Ahern is running on his record of 10 years as a representative in Olympia, but that record is a thin one. Perhaps his most significant achievement, securing a Veterans Cemetery for Eastern Washington, dates to 2001.
He had 99 other representatives to help carry the load in Olympia. He would have just six on the City Council.
Although we do not necessarily admire every position Snyder has taken – Complete Streets is a work in progress – a look at a district footprint spanning the city from Havana Street on the east to Craig Road on the west underscores why an incumbent with Snyder’s knowledge of the issues is important.
Also, after years of discord, if not downright rancor, the Spokane City Council has developed into an effective local lawmaking and policy forum. Some of the credit for that belongs to Snyder, and that is one of the reasons we recommend Spokane voters advance him to the November general election.
Biel could also be an effective representative as she increases her command of city issues.