Recent donations from PACs and associations have inflated the coffers of some Spokane Valley City Council candidates in time for a last-minute advertising push before Election Day.
The Washington Association of Realtors has given $900 each to appointed incumbent Rod Higgins, incumbent Chuck Hafner and Fred Beaulac, who is going up against Bill Bates for the seat being vacated by Mayor Tom Towey. Beaulac and Linda Thompson, who is challenging Higgins, have received $500 each from the Washington State Council of County and City Employees.
Duane Alton, a former tire shop owner now known for financing campaigns against school levies and bonds across Washington and North Idaho, has also weighed into the Spokane Valley political scene. He has given $500 to Higgins and $1,450 to Ed Pace, who is running against incumbent Gary Schimmels. Schimmels has promised to raise and spend no more than $5,000 and does not have to report individual donations.
The candidates have spent the bulk of their money on campaign signs, mailers and newspaper ads. Pace has spent $1,150 on radio ads on the American Christian Network.
Recent ads have made the alliances among council members and candidates clear. Schimmels, Hafner and Bates have appeared in an ad together bearing an endorsement from Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “I am proud to support these exceptional leaders for the Spokane Valley,” the ad reads.
Higgins and Pace are featured in another ad bearing endorsements from Councilmen Dean Grafos and Arne Woodard along with former Councilwoman Brenda Grassel. The ad was not paid for by either campaign, however. It was paid for by Elizabeth Grafos and Clint Grassel, spouses of the candidates. The ad highlights the military service of the candidates and touts their “strong and principled leadership.”
Pace leads the way in fundraising, collecting $15,499 and spending $14,958, according to campaign finance documents filed by early this week. He has received $250 from the Ponderosa Republican Women, the Spokane Home Builders Association and the Washington Liberty PAC. Grassel and Rep. Matt Shea are listed as officers of the Washington Liberty PAC, which is partially funded by a $250 donation from Grassel’s business, Precision Cutting Technologies.
Pace also received donations of $100 from the Spokane County Constitutional Republicans and the Spokane County Republican Party. Other top donors include $1,800 from retired businessman Jack Pring, $500 from Crown West Realty and $1,000 from Thuan Pace, who is his wife.
Higgins is second in fundraising with donations of $11,960. He has spent $7,139. He is supported by $250 from Ponderosa Republican Women and the Spokane Home Builders Association, plus $100 from the Spokane Valley Republican Action Committee. Other top donors include $900 from Pring, $500 from Opportunity Body Shop, $500 from Precision Cutting Technologies and $400 from Grafos and his company, Dean Grafos Investments.
Thompson, Higgins’s opponent, trails with $1,818 in her campaign account. She has received a $100 donation from Councilman Ben Wick, but most is from family members. She has spent all of what she has collected.
Most of Hafner’s donations came in May, June and July, before it became clear that his challenger, Donald Morgan Jr., was not launching an active campaign. Hafner has raised $4,625 and his top donors include $500 from Pring and $500 from the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. He has spent $3,138 of the contributions received.
Morgan has collected $207, which includes a $50 personal loan. He has not purchased any campaign signs or advertising.
The race between Bates and Beaulac is more evenly matched. Bates has taken in $4,190 in donations and spent $2,699. His top donors include $500 from Pring, $500 from the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and $500 from Towey, who is his half-brother.
Bealuac has raised $3,350 and spent $1,557. Two PACS are his top donors, along with $300 from Jayne Beaulac, who is his wife, and $200 from former Councilman Bill Gothmann.