Spokane Mayor David Condon had the best primary election night of his elected life Tuesday, but he acknowledged the lopsided vote wasn’t a cause for unbridled celebration.
“We all know what that spread means, don’t we,” he said. “We all know what happened four years ago, but I’m very grateful for the results.”
Condon garnered enough votes to score a landslide finish, taking 66 percent of the vote to advance to the Nov. 3 general election, a showing that tops what former Mayor Mary Verner did four years ago. In that primary, Verner took 59 percent of the vote to Condon’s 33 percent. Three months later, Condon won by almost 3,000 votes and 5 percent, denying Verner a second term that voters haven’t given an incumbent mayor since 1973.
Condon said voters recognized the progress the city’s made under his leadership, but said he still had “a substantial amount of doors to knock on” before the November election.
Shar Lichty, Condon’s progressive challenger, came in a distant second with 24 percent of the vote and will face Condon in November. She also raised Verner’s specter.
“I just want to remind everybody that Mary Verner had David Condon beat two-to-one,” she told about 50 people who gathered with progressive candidates and politicians at downtown’s Saranac Commons. “Tomorrow starts a new campaign.”
Lichty is a political organizer with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane who has taken Condon to task for what she describes as favoritism to the city’s elite and not going far enough in strengthening oversight of the city’s Police Department.
Mike Noder, a libertarian who raised no money in the campaign, came in third in his third bid for mayor.
In Spokane’s northeastern District 1, incumbent Councilman Mike Fagan handily won the most votes, despite controversial comments he’s made during the past year about vaccines and women serving in the military or working as police officers.
“We can always do better,” said Fagan, who captured 49 percent of the vote but said the low voter turnout depressed his spirits. “I’m looking forward to a fight going into the general election. We’ll see what the left has to throw at me.”
It’s unclear who he will face. The two men who shared the ballot with Fagan – Ben Krauss and Randy Ramos – are separated by just one vote.
“It’s my vote,” Ramos said jokingly. “It hasn’t been counted yet.”
Ramos, who grew up in part on the Colville Reservation and was recruited to run by a progressive friend, voted in an election for the first time in April, and is still working to pay off a debt incurred from driving drunk in 2009.
Krauss, an analyst with the Spokane Police Department, filed to run against Fagan before suspending most of his campaign because of work.
The southern District 2 had three candidates running to replace Mike Allen, who is not seeking re-election.
LaVerne Biel won with 38 percent of the vote. She will face Lori Kinnear, who finished second with 35 percent.
Biel, who has been endorsed by Condon, said she would continue pushing her message that a small-business owner needs to be on the City Council.
Kinnear, who aligns with the left-leaning City Council, aimed her campaign squarely at Biel.
“The next thing we’re going to do is beat LaVerne Biel,” she told the crowd at Saranac Commons. “We’re going to keep the council strong and not a tool of Mayor Condon.”
District 3 voters, in northwest Spokane, gave the day to Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who was appointed to the council when Steve Salvatori quit for work in Texas.
She won with 42 percent of the vote. Evan Verduin, a young architect who owns his own firm, came in behind Stratton with 32 percent.
Stratton said her experience on the council won voters over, but she looked forward to debating Verduin on the issues.
“He doesn’t have experience. I have the experience, and I think I have a good reputation that will be hard for him to beat, to be honest,” she said. “I’m very comfortable in my own skin and with who I am. I think that’s going to be a challenge for him.”
Verduin interpreted the election differently.
“There was a lot of vote splitting. Honestly, I believe the three candidates running against the incumbent ran with a common message: That the City Council needs to support small businesses,” said Verduin, adding that he believed the two losing candidates’ votes would gravitate to him. “That theme is going to resound.”
Condon, who endorsed Verduin, said the results showed that voters sought a new perspective on the City Council.
“It’s a testament to having small business and job creators run. People are looking for that type of voice on the City Council,” said Condon, adding that Fagan “is well-suited for his constituents in the northeast” and that the two would sit down soon to talk about an endorsement.
City Council President Ben Stuckart said the vote showed his leadership of the council was effective and popular.
“The City Council races look pretty good for the majority,” he said.
Stuckart, who did not appear on the primary ballot because he has just one opponent, has not endorsed any candidates yet, but said he will now.
“I am endorsing Lori Kinnear and Karen Stratton,” he said. “And I will be campaigning for them heavily.”
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