Mayor Rod Higgins will retain his seat on the Spokane Valley City Council against challenger Chris Jackson in a race that had been too-close-to-call since initial ballots were counted Nov. 7.
As of Monday, there were 600 votes left to count in Spokane County, with about 100 ballots left in the race for Spokane Valley mayor, according to the Spokane County Elections Office.
Although Jackson led Higgins in the race when initial results were released on election night, later votes swung in favor of Higgins, and his lead was 251 votes after counting on Monday.
“Obviously, it was a very hard-fought election,” Higgins said. “Everyone who participated did so with the intent to win and that’s a good thing.”
Higgins was appointed to the City Council to fill a vacated seat in 2013. Later that year, he was elected to a four-year City Council term. Council members selected Higgins to serve as mayor in 2016. Higgins served as a city planning commissioner prior to his appointment to the City Council.
Higgins counts the construction of Spokane Valley’s new City Hall during his first mayoral term as a major accomplishment. It is forecast to save the city about $8 million during the next 30 years when compared with the cost of leasing the previous city hall building.
Higgins indicated his priorities as mayor include making Spokane Valley business-friendly, as well as completing the city’s rail crossing projects at Barker Road and Pines Road.
“A large population is in the east side of the Valley,” he said. “Barker Road sorely needs work and we are going to do everything we can to get it fixed.”
Higgins said another priority is expanding the city’s industrial park, the largest one between Minneapolis and Seattle.
“We are going to double that,” he said. “It is going to be exciting for the Valley.”
For challenger Jackson, this election was his first venture into politics, although he comes from a prominent family of Spokane Valley Democrats. His father, Andrew, ran for county assessor in 2010 and his grandmother, Sally, is a former county party chairwoman and legislative candidate.
Jackson said the reason he chose to run in the election was to help curb transparency issues between the City Council and the public.
Jackson said running was a wonderful experience and that he enjoyed the community involvement with the campaign.
“I definitely would consider running again if the challengers don’t make progress with fixing transparency,” he said. “I would definitely say as a result of this, I plan to be way more active with council by turning up to meetings and speaking when I need to.”
Editor’s note: This article was changed on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 to clarify that by winning the election, Rod Higgins will maintain his seat on the city council. The role of mayor in Spokane Valley is filled by a vote of City Council. The article also was changed to remove incorrect data. Higgins’ lead of 251 votes in insurmountable with only about 100 votes left to count in Spokane Valley.