Before deciding which candidate to vote for in the District 2 Spokane City Council race, it’s worth considering what will be lost with the departure of Mike Allen, who was often in the minority against the liberal supermajority. With labor-related issues, such as paid sick leave, being queued up, the council needs another voice to question the need for the city to set mandates for businesses.
Three solid candidates are looking to replace Allen, who decided not to seek re-election. We recommend voters choose either LaVerne Biel or Lori Kinnear in the primary.
Biel is a businesswoman who ran four years ago, losing in the primary to John Ahern and eventual winner Jon Snyder. She has key endorsements from Allen, Mayor David Condon and former council members Steve Salvatori and Nancy McLaughlin. She owns and is the chief executive of Access Unified Networks, which installs voice and data systems for businesses.
She lives near the South Perry District and is a former chairwoman of the East Central Business Association and former president of Associated Builders and Contractors. With that experience, she has a solid understanding of how government can either support or deter businesses.
Biel is concerned the council is ranging too far afield from its official duties. On the other hand, she signed the “sanctuary city” petition, which calls for the Spokane Police Department to get involved in a federal matter.
Lori Kinnear is the legislative aide to Councilwoman Amber Waldref and to former Councilman Richard Rush before that. She was an adviser for the Women’s Business Center and had a landscape design business in Seattle. She touts her experience at City Hall and the fact that she’s drafted a number of ordinances. She tirelessly attends meetings and hearings and notes that she rarely, if ever, sees other council candidates in attendance.
Her passion, she says, is economic development, and she worked with Waldref to make building renovation projects more viable by charging apartment developers the commercial rate, rather than the residential rate, for city utilities. Smart Justice is another area of interest, and Kinnear says she wants to be the council’s champion for criminal justice reforms.
We are concerned she could end up voting lockstep with the majority on other issues, but she says she is not ideological. We’d like to hear more from her about being an independent candidate if she survives the primary.
John Waite, who is making his fourth run for council, is an earnest and enthusiastic supporter of civic engagement, government transparency and small-business survival. He owns Merlyn’s Comics and Games, a downtown business, and he lives downtown.
Waite wants to be the voice of business on the council, and he is an engaging, likable candidate. But after running three races as an independent, he now identifies as a “progressive Democrat.” That’s probably smart strategically, but the council already leans too heavily in that direction.