The upcoming Spokane Valley City Council elections promise to be lively. Every incumbent has a challenger and most are familiar faces.
Only Position 4 has more than two candidates, requiring a primary vote on Aug. 6.
Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels has served on the council since the city incorporated. In August he will face two challengers, Ed Pace and DeeDee Loberg. Loberg ran unsuccessfully for council in 2011. She serves on the Washington State PTA board of directors and is a self-described homemaker and community activist. Pace, a retired Lutheran minister and electronics worker, failed in his bid for a council seat in 2009.
Schimmels was last elected in 2009 when he campaigned with Positive Change candidates Dean Grafos, Brenda Grassel, Tom Towey and Bob McCaslin. He seems to have lost the support of some of his fellow Positive Change candidates.
Pace’s campaign manager is Grassel, who resigned her position in December when she moved outside the city limits. Grassel was endorsed by Schimmels when she ran for her seat in 2009.
Schimmels has told the Public Disclosure Commission that he will raise no more than $5,000, so he is exempted from reporting donations. Pace’s top donors are Thuan Pace and retired businessman Jack Pring, who each gave $500. Pring was a top supporter of Positive Change candidates in 2009, including Schimmels.
Loberg has not yet filed with the PDC. Candidates have two weeks after filing for election to file with the PDC.
Rod Higgins, who won a coin toss and was appointed to replace Grassel in February, will face Linda Thompson, who lost the coin toss. Thompson is executive director of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council.
Higgins said he was pleased to have competition to keep his position. “It’s a good thing,” he said. “That’s when the system works best.”
Thompson said she believes the council needs more diversity and it was a natural decision to run against Higgins. “It was really about the coin toss,” she said.
Higgins has already started collecting campaign donations and is placing signs around town. His major donors so far are Pring ($500), Grafos ($200) and real estate agent Gordon Curry ($200).
Thompson has not yet filed with the PDC.
Pring and longtime Spokane Valley activist and softball coach Sally Jackson are the co-chairs of the committee to re-elect Chuck Hafner. Pring has donated $500 to Hafner’s campaign.
Donald Morgan Jr. has filed to run against Hafner. Morgan did not respond to repeated requests for comment. His voicemail states that he works for Independent Wealth Connections.
Hafner said he doesn’t know Morgan. “If he can do a better job, he’s welcome to it,” he said. “But I think things are going fairly well right now.”
Morgan has not yet filed with the PDC.
There is a two-way race for the seat currently held by Mayor Tom Towey, who is not seeking re-election. The candidates are his half-brother and current planning commission chairman, Bill Bates, and former planning commissioner Fred Beaulac.
Bates has started collecting campaign donations. His major donors so far are Pring ($500), Curry ($200) and Towey ($200).
Beaulac has not yet filed with the PDC.
There’s also competition for some of the council seats in Liberty Lake. Debbi Haskins is running against Position 1 incumbent Lori Olander. Hugh Severs and Jeff Sitton have filed for Position 2. Position 4 incumbent Odin Langford faces a challenge from Mike Tedesco. Position 6 incumbent Keith Kopelson is running unopposed.
Recently appointed Spokane Valley Fire Commissioner Mike Pearson is running unopposed for his seat, as is commission chairman Kolby Hanson. Longtime commissioner Ron Schmidt is being challenged by former Spokane Valley Mayor Mike DeVleming.
In other races, Spokane County Fire District 8 commissioner Dennis Ross is running for re-election unopposed, as is Spokane County Fire District 13 commissioner Eileen Weyrauch and commissioner Brian LaShaw of Spokane County Fire District 11. There is a three-way race for the Spokane County Fire District 9 commissioner seat currently held by John Bjork. He’s being challenged by Jim Bennett and Judy Personett.