Candidates for Spokane City Council on the city’s south side are no strangers to City Hall.
Two of the candidates have mounted unsuccessful campaigns for City Council in recent years. The third has worked as an aide to council members for the past six years.
When Councilman Mike Allen said he wouldn’t seek re-election to the position, he immediately endorsed LaVerne Biel, the CEO of Access Unified Networks, a business she’s owned with her husband for 21 years that installs voice and data systems for other businesses.
Biel sought a council seat in 2013 but didn’t make it past the primary.
Biel, who has also been endorsed by Mayor David Condon, said there was a need to bring balance and business acumen to the City Council, where the current majority has not always agreed with the mayor. Biel said she’d push the council to focus on the city’s core services, such as public safety, parks and libraries.
“My life experience and job experience have helped me to make good, in-depth decisions,” she said. “I have been an employee, an employee advocate and a business manager. I understand all three aspects.”
John Waite, who owns downtown’s Merlyn’s Comics and Games, echoed the need for business experience at City Hall, saying he’d bring his knowledge as a small-business owner and “progressive Democrat” to the council, something he said was currently lacking.
“I think there’s a need for a small-business viewpoint on City Council,” Waite said. “I’m somebody on the street, paying the bills, paying the taxes, dealing with customers, dealing with quarterlies. That’s why I would be valuable at City Hall.”
Waite, who has run for council three times before, said he would like Spokane to be part of the digital technology future and implement the Smart Justice reforms to the criminal-justice system.
Lori Kinnear has worked with Councilwoman Amber Waldref for four years. In the two years before that, she worked for former Councilman Richard Rush.
Kinnear said she would work to drive down property crime in the city, saying it has reverberating effects across the community.
Like Waite, Kinnear, a regular attendee at the city’s many committee meetings, aligns with the left-leaning majority on the council, but said she is only beholden to her constituents.
“Government is people coming together and doing what they can’t do by themselves,” Kinnear said. “My aim is to make sure that when we pass an ordinance that it benefits the greatest number of people and not just a select few – because that’s part of being in a community.”