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Camden: Candidates still deciding on 4th District seats

Sun., May 4, 2014, midnight

Last week’s steady stream of candidates announcing plans to run for some office or another is a sign of spring, and that filing week is nearly upon us.

May 12-16 is the time for a candidate to go from talking about running for office to putting money where his or her mouth is, and then attaching it to the required paperwork and filing it with county or state elections officials.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton had a word of advice recently for would-be candidates contemplating their runs. It boils down to “do all your contemplating before filing and paying your fee.”

Apparently some candidates in the 4th Legislative District have been talking about filing early in the week for one House seat, and maybe switching later in the week if the field for the other seat seems to offer better prospects.

Right now, the state Public Disclosure Commission lists seven House candidates in the 4th, all Republicans. Five haven’t indicated which seat they will seek, leaving the space marked “Position No.” blank, or putting a U – presumably for “undecided” – or NA, which usually stands for not applicable.

In this case, the position number is very applicable. You file and run for one or the other, and must say so on your campaign signs, literature and candidacy petitions.

Presumably, this is all about jockeying to see who will run for the seat vacated last year by longtime Rep. Larry Crouse, to which Leonard Christian was appointed. Christian is willing to say he’s seeking No. 1, which he currently holds. Yet Rep. Matt Shea, who has held the No. 2 position since winning it in 2008, considers it “NA.”

Shea has endorsed Robert McCaslin for the House; McCaslin also is running NA but presumably NSS, or Not Shea’s Seat.

Josh Arritola, of Chattaroy, the head of a management consulting firm, made the formal announcement last week that he’s running against Shea. He may be waiting for Shea to pick a number to replace the U on his form and put it on his website. (There was a time when candidates chose their race before designing a website, but that’s probably so 2000s.)

The position number can be added to a website with a few key strokes by a programmer. It can be attached to a yard sign or a billboard with stickers. Changing it on a petition of candidacy after it’s filed with elections officials next week isn’t so easy. In fact, it’s not possible, Dalton said. A candidate can switch races only by withdrawing from the first race, which means forfeiting that filing fee, then filing new paperwork for the other race. And paying the fee again.

Elections officials won’t mind taking two fees from the same candidate. But it might not sound good for anyone running as a fiscal conservative in the Spokane Valley’s 4th District. And does anyone run as anything else in the 4th?

RIP Janet Gilpatrick

Janet Gilpatrick never held elective office but put her stamp on the politics and governance of Eastern Washington for some 17 years by making sure things got done right for someone who did.

That someone was Tom Foley, the Spokane congressman who rose through the ranks to become speaker of the House. While Foley rose from committee chairman to majority whip to majority leader to speaker, Gilpatrick headed up the staff taking care of business back in Spokane.

To many, she was the eyes and ears of Tom Foley in Eastern Washington, meeting with business leaders, school officials, farmers and just about anyone else who had an idea or request for their congressman when he wasn’t around. When he was, she was the person who made sure he got where he needed to be when he needed to be there – no small trick with a boss who lingered at one event talking to constituents while the time got shorter to get to the next one.

But Gilpatrick was adept at covering the miles between cities and towns in the far reaches of the 5th District at speeds that would impress a NASCAR fan. Ever been stopped for speeding, she was once asked after covering the stretch from Spokane to Pullman in an impressively short span? Oh yes, she replied. Does having the speaker of the House in the car get you out of a ticket? It might if they were allowed to mention it, she said, but they weren’t, so she’d just take the ticket and pay the fine.

When campaign season came around, as it did every other summer for Foley, she split her time between the congressional office and the campaign. There were things she could tell a reporter on the record, things off the record, and things she just couldn’t tell at all. She was the rarest of political operatives – passionate and knowledgeable about issues and loyal to her boss without ever steering anyone wrong.

She took those talents to a career in public relations after closing up Foley’s office. She’d had some health problems lately and went downhill after her longtime husband Thomas passed away, daughter Annie Gilpatrick said. Her memorial will be May 14 at Hennessey Smith on North Division Street.


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