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Editorial: Judge Staab an easy call for Municipal Court

The general election is approaching fast. Ballots will be mailed next week, starting on Wednesday, and the last day to vote is Nov. 7.

The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board issued endorsements in selected races during the primary:

Spokane County Superior Court, Position 6: Tony Hazel.

Spokane Public Schools, Position No. 5: Mike Wiser.

Spokane Valley City Council, Position 5: Pamela Haley.

Spokane Valley City Council, Position No. 1: We recommended that Rod Higgins and Al Merkel advance to the general election. Merkel finished third, so our choice is Higgins over Chris Jackson.

Spokane City Council, District 3, Position 2: We recommended Candace Mumm and Brian Burrow, who finished third. So our choice is Mumm over Matthew Howes.

The full endorsements can be found online.

In the Spokane City Council race for the District 1, Position 2 seat, we picked Kathryn Alexander, but she finished third behind Kate Burke and Tim Benn. In the coming days, we will issue endorsements in that race and the other Spokane City Council contest between Breean Beggs and Andy Dunau. We will also publish endorsements in the three remaining races for Spokane Valley City Council and for Proposition 2, a city of Spokane initiative.

Today’s endorsement is in the lone contested Municipal Court race in the city of Spokane.

Municipal Court Judge, No. 1

Incumbent Judge Tracy Staab has an opponent, of sorts, in City Prosecutor Adam Papini, whose campaign was derailed when he was charged with drunken driving on June 4. His 10-year-old son was in the car. He hasn’t actively campaigned, but his name remains on the ballot.

Papini did make an appearance at a recent candidate forum hosted by the Spokane County Bar Association, where he said, “I stand before you today as a humbled man.”

Fortunately, voters have a solid choice in Staab, who was one of the judges originally appointed when the court was formed in January 2009. She received our endorsement in her successful 2009 election, and she won again in 2013 (unopposed).

Staab had an impressive legal resume when she joined the court, working as a city prosecutor, a public defender and a law clerk at the Court of Appeals. She’s been a solid judge on a court known for innovation and alternatives to jail time. She serves on two subcommittees of the Law and Justice Council, including one working on racial equity.

Staab is committed to Smart Justice, which attempts to remove offenders from the cycle of warrant, arrest, jail and release. The court, in conjunction with the state Department of Corrections, runs a work crew, where offenders pick up litter. It costs the city $16 a day, as opposed to the $139 per day jail tab. She says her greatest satisfaction is seeing offenders make progress toward becoming productive citizens.

Staab was rated “exceptionally qualified” in the Spokane County Bar Association’s evaluation. Papini did not participate.

She’s the easy choice in this contest.


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