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Open Spokane council seat draws 22 applicants

Spokane’s first City Council president is among 22 people who submitted applications to fill a vacancy on the council.

Rob Higgins, 66, served four terms on the council in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

“I enjoyed my work when I was a council member and I still have an interest in that,” said Higgins, explaining why he decided to apply. “It’s really that simple.”

Higgins, who is not related to Spokane Valley Councilman Rod Higgins, is the executive vice president of the Association of Spokane Realtors. He was elected Spokane’s first council president in 2000 after the city switched to a strong-mayor form of government.

The opening on the City Council is the result of the resignation of Councilman Steve Salvatori, who is moving to Dallas along with his business.

Council members will fill the seat, which represents northwest Spokane, for the remainder of Salvatori’s term, which concludes at the end of next year.

“I am so appreciative that so many qualified people applied,” said Councilwoman Candace Mumm, the other council member who serves the Northwest district.

The position is nonpartisan, but the council in recent years has been defined by liberal or conservative leanings. With Salvatori off the council, the body could shift to a 5-2 liberal, veto-proof majority.

But Mumm downplays the talk about political labels.

“Political leanings are not as important to me as someone who is willing to put in the work,” Mumm said.

Other applicants for the position are:

• Deborah Zel Bessmer, a registered nurse who formerly worked at Providence Holy Family Hospital and currently works for the Washington State Nurses Association.

• Michael Cannon, a member of the city’s Community Housing and Human Services board and manager of account management at Bank of America Merchant Services who ran for City Council last year.

• Kelly Cruz, former chairman of the West Central Neighborhood Council who ran for City Council last year.

• Adrian Dominguez, an epidemiologist with the Spokane Regional Health District and an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University.

• Victor Frazier, chairman of the Northwest Neighborhood Council and West Central Community Center board member who ran for City Council in 2003.

• Donald Gibson, owner of MonkeyBoy Bicycles in the Garland Business District.

• Merle D. Gilliland, a former project administrator for Boeing.

• Julie Griffith, former director of Community-Minded Enterprises and current director of Money Management International.

• E. J. Iannelli, chairman of the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood Council and a freelance editor.

• Jon Jantz, co-founder of Populace Solar, which sells portable solar chargers for phones.

• Amber Joplin, who as a graduate student worked on geographic information systems projects for local governments including the Spokane Transit Authority.

• Karen Kearney, chairwoman of the Balboa-South Indian Trail Neighborhood Council who ran for City Council in 2009.

• Kitty Klitzke, the Eastern Washington program director for Futurewise.

• Donna Kuhn, a former preschool teacher who also has taught homeschooled children.

• Mary Lee, program coordinator and business analyst for the WSU College of Nursing.

• Eric Miller, regional salesperson for SCAFCO grain systems and a licensed Russian interpreter.

• Rachael Paschal Osborn, water attorney and former staff attorney for the Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

• Jennifer Ross, former preschool teacher.

• Karen J. Stratton, a clerk in the City Clerk’s office and former executive assistant to former Mayor Mary Verner.

• Paul Van Sickle, consultant and fleet analyst for the city of Spokane from 2008 until last year.

• David B. White, a Spokane County utilities inspector and Republican candidate for the state House in 2010 and 2012.