October 16, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Spokane City Council power balance should be preserved

 

A closely divided Spokane City Council favoring a conservative approach to local government, one that has worked responsibly with Mayor David Condon to heal the wounds of the Otto Zehm case and bring discipline to the management of the city’s financial affairs, does not need fixing.

We recommend Spokane voters preserve the balance of power by re-electing incumbents Amber Waldref and Jon Snyder and replacing Nancy McLaughlin with Michael Cannon.

Waldref is unopposed in District 1, encompassing northeast Spokane. A would-be challenger did not meet residency requirements.

In District 3, northwest Spokane, either Candace Mumm or Michael Cannon would succeed the term-limited McLaughlin. Both candidates have hands-on experience with city affairs; Cannon as chairman of the Community Housing and Human Services Board, Mumm as city Plan Commission chairwoman. Both have admirable business and community service records. Although all council races are “nonpartisan,” Mumm has Democratic Party backing; Cannon is a longtime Republican, as is McLaughlin.

Mumm polled better than 50 percent in the August primary. We expressed concern then with her close ties to labor unions, particularly those representing firefighters, who are among her biggest contributors. Excessive firefighter compensation has consistently resulted in fewer firefighters, a dynamic Mumm said she was unaware of when she met with the editorial board.

But Mumm and Cannon agree a proposed Police Guild contract must allow an ombudsman to conduct independent investigations into complaints brought against officers.

Cannon is the more fiscally conservative of the two.

For the South Hill, District 2, we stand by our earlier recommendation that Snyder be retained.

The former owner of Out There Monthly magazine has been a diligent and energetic contributor to council deliberations. Like Mumm, he has received strong union support, but has shown willingness to take positions unfriendly to the Guild, notably his early support for a stronger ombudsman and officer body cameras.

He has also said it may be time for the city to test arbitration as a way of getting police and fire contracts in line with private sector salaries, a position we share.

His opponent is retired business owner John Ahern, who stepped down as Republican state representative last year after serving five terms. His accomplishments in Olympia were modest, and his priorities for City Council – more police, better streets, lower taxes – are entirely noncontroversial. Easy, too, when he has admittedly not examined a city budget scrubbed hard by the current council and mayor.

Unfortunately, the contested races have taken an ugly turn with a television ad campaign attacking Mumm and Snyder. Even though we dislike their disproportionate labor support, the tone of the ads funded largely by builders and developers will hardly convince voters the financers are on the side of the angels.

Ignore the noise. Vote for Michael Cannon and Jon Snyder.


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