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Rush concedes race to Allen, calls off hand recount

Spokane City Councilman Richard Rush said this afternoon that he has decided against paying for a hand recount in his race against Mike Allen.

Rush said after further consideration of the results of the machiine recount, as well as the hand recount that was completed in the 4th Legislative District Senate race, it was highly unlikely that a hand recount would change the outcome.

The hand recount had been scheduled to start on Tuesday.

The council race for the city's south district was recounted by machine because the gap between Allen and Rush was only 88 votes and less than half a percentage point. After ballots were run through the counting machines again, Allen's lead increased to 91. In the hand recount in the state Senate race that was paid for by losing candidate Jeff Baxter, results barely changed.

 

"That was valuable information that I hadn't been able to thoroughly process," Rush said.

Rush had been concerned about the number of voters in the district who opted not to make a choice in the contest and requested the hand recount, which candidates can request at their expense. State law requires races to recounted by hand at government request only when they are within a quarter of a percentage point.

Donors gave more than $6,000 to the Spokane County Democratic Party to cover the cost of the Rush-Allen hand recount.

"I don't think the manual recount would be a wise use of their money," Rush said.

He said he left a message for Allen this afternoon to congratulate him.

Asked what his plans are, Rush said: "I plan to think about my plans."

"It's a relief to put this behind me and think about the future."

Read the complete list of Condon’s transition team

 

Mayor-elect David Condon tonight released the names of about 80 people who will serve on five committees that make up his transition team.

Here are the names, pretty much cut and paste from the announcement (except a couple spelling fixes):

Public Safety

Captain, Nancy Isserlis; City Staff – Police, Scott Stephens; City Staff – Fire, Bobby Williams; City Staff HR – Heather Lowe; City Council – Mike Fagan; Roger Bragdon; Jim McDevitt; Tony Hazel; Tobby Hatley; Cliff Walter; Mick McDowell; Alexandra Stoddard; Pat Devries; Lisa Rosier; Tim Conner.

Budget Reform

Captain, Brian Benzel; City Staff CFO – Gavin Cooley; City Council – Nancy McLaughlin; City Council – Amber Waldref; Chris Cargill; Jason Thackston; Kate McCaslin; Kim Zentz; Bob Cole; Stanley Schwartz; Heidi Stanley; Mary Ann McCurdy.

Infrastructure

Captain, Latisha Hill; City Staff Public Works – Mike Taylor; City Staff Parks – Leroy Eadie; City Council – Steve Salvatori; City Council – Mike Allen; Joel White; Susan Ashe; Dave Clack; Susan Meyer; Mike George; Dallas Hawkins; Mark Aden; Mike Petersen; Frank Tombari; Marty Dickinson; Kris Mikkelsen; Roger Flint.

Jobs/Economic Opportunity

Captain, Mike Senske; City Staff ED – Mike Edwards; City Staff Finance – Rick Romero; City Council – Ben Stuckart; Joel Crosby; Mike Tedesco; Bill Savitz; Jim Hanley; Cheryl Kilday; Ty Barbery; Tom Simpson; Ellie Aaro; Jim DeWalt; Jim Quigley; Kim Pearman-Gilman; Jerry Dicker.

Quality of Life/Social Services

Captain, Arlene Patton; City Staff – Jonathan Mallahan; City Staff – Joanne Benham; City Council – Jon Snyder; Jean Farmer; Victor Frazier; Julie Honekamp; Andy Dunau; Sheila Geraghty; Judith Gilmore; Antony Chang; Lee Taylor; Arne Weinman; Rob Crow; Chris McCabe; Michael Cannon.

Allen wins second count, but a third awaits

Former Councilman Mike Allen's lead over incumbent Richard Rush grew by three to 91 on Wednesday after a recount of the Spokane City Council election for the city's south district.

The race was recounted by machine because the result from the first count was within half of 1 percentage point. Rush said he still plans to pursue a hand recount, which the Spokane County Democratic Party has agreed to finance.

Results of a hand recount in the 4th Legislative District senate race, which also was completed Wednesday and was paid for by candidate Jeff Baxter, may not give Rush much hope for much change.

Baxter paid more than $1,700 to have 10 precincts recounted in his race against state Sen. Mike Padden. Election workers who tallied the ballots Wednesday morning found two errors. Baxter lost a vote, and one vote that had been counted as blank was changed to a write-in, for the candidate "N/A."

In the Rush-Allen race, Rush's tally was found to be too high by two and Allen gained a vote after a ballot that had been counted as blank was found to have been marked for Allen.

Election Manager Mike McLaughlin said he can't say for sure why Rush's count fell by two. One possibility is that after paper jams occurred in the machines, ballots that already had been counted may have been sent through a second time, he said.

Each campaign involved in the two recounts had observers at the Elections Office.

Baxter lost to Padden by 3,638 votes. He said he paid for the recount with his personal money and did so because results in some precincts conflicted with data campaign workers collected when going door-to-door. The outcome hints that in a future race volunteers need to do a better job reaching voters when they're home, he said.

"I didn't think anything insidious was going on," Baxter said. "I'm just saying that we need to work a little harder in different precincts."

Baxter said he hasn't decided if he will run again next year.

Last week, Rush indicated that Baxter may have paid for a recount to prevent Rush's race from being recounted by hand. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton originally requested that the City Council race be counted by hand to test new scanners in the county's voting machines. But she changed course after Baxter opted to pay for a recount in his race.

"It had absolutely nothing to do with his race," Baxter said. "I don't have the time to be playing those games."

Recounts moved to Wednesday

Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said this afternoon that sorting ballots for recounting took longer than expected.

Therefore, the Spokane City Council recount between Richard Rush and Mike Allen and the 4th Legislative District Senate race between Jeff Baxter and Mike Padden won't start until 9 a.m. Wednesday, he said. County should be complete by 1 p.m., when the Spokane County Canvassing Board meets to certify the new results.

Recounts start Tuesday

Spokane County election officials expect to start and complete on Tuesday the first two of the three recounts they need to complete to finish work from the November election.

Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the office plans to count the ballots from the Spokane City Council race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen and the 4th Legislative District senate race between Mike Padden and Jeff Baxter starting around 9 a.m.

The Rush-Allen recount will be completed by computer and is required because the race ended with the two candidates within a half percentage point. The senate recount will be completed manually because it was paid for by Baxter.

After this set of results is complete and the Canvassing Board meets on Wednesday, the Allen-Rush hand recount, which is being financed by the Spokane County Democratic Party, can begin.

Rush trails Allen by 88 votes.

Baxter trails Padden by 3,437 votes.

Election results certified

The Spokane County Elections Office has certified the November election results. There were no surprises in the final results, but a look at the election statistics reveals some interesting information. The number of ballots returned in Spokane Valley resulted in a 54.73 percent return rate, which may well be the highest in the city's history. That amounts to 26,839 ballots. The return rate was 49.6 percent in the 2009 city council elections.

The run to the polls seems to have been led by the resounding no vote on the city's Proposition 1 to fund converting one-way Sprague and Appleway to two-way streets. There were only 720 "under votes" on that issue, which refers to people who turned in a ballot but didn't select either option on that particular ballot item. In comparison the under votes in Spokane Valley City Council races ranged from 4,772 to 8,579.

But even if the voter turnout in Spokane Valley was the best ever, the city was still trounced by nearly every other jurisdiction that surrounds it. The ballot return rate was 64.9 percent in Newman Lake Fire District 13, 59.70 percent in Liberty Lake, 61.76 percent in Rockford, 64.82 percent in Fire District 8 and a whopping 71.21 percent in Waverly. (The lowest was 43.02 percent in Airway Heights.) The return rate for Spokane County as a whole was 57.04 percent.

Rush-Allen recount will be done by hand

The final outcome of the City Council race for a seat representing south Spokane won’t be decided until next week.

That’s when the Spokane County Election’s Office will recount ballots in a contest so close that state law required a second examination.

Former Councilman Mike Allen leads incumbent Richard Rush by a mere 88 votes.

Although it’s a lead of less than half a percentage point, it is a wide enough margin that is unlikely to shrink enough to change, considering past recounts. Recounts in Spokane County have generally changed tallies by a few votes or less.

The Spokane County Canvassing Board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton’s recommendation to count ballots by hand. State law only would have required the recount to be done manually if the difference had been within a quarter of a percentage point.

Dalton argued that the council race is the county’s first chance to test official ballots on a large scale since new scanners were installed this summer in the county’s six vote-counting machines, which were manufactured by Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software.

“A recount is a very rare opportunity to let us test the accuracy of the machines using the real ballots marked by actual voters,” Dalton said.

She added: “It’s an attempt to give closure to the candidates in the most definitive way possible.”

Why Verner lost: Part 3: Otto Zehm

It’s hard to imagine how Mayor Mary Verner could have lost so much ground between the primary and the November election without concerns about the Otto Zehm case eating at her base.

With some members of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane expressing the possibility of sitting out the election or even casting a vote for a Republican who served a conservative member of Congress, it became clear that Verner had a problem, a problem that became more pronounced when Tom Keefe, a former Spokane County Democratic Party chair endorsed now Mayor-elect David Condon.

There were two key questions that Verner would not answer, at least completely, for most of the campaign:

- Why did the city file a response to the lawsuit from Otto Zehm’s family indicating that officers followed proper police policies when they confronted Otto Zehm, who died from injuries he suffered in that confrontation, even though the man who led the department at the time of the confrontation, Assistant Chief Jim Nicks, felt differently?

- Was she informed about the request by Department of Justice officials to meet regarding their concerns about the behavior of the city attorney’s office?

After the now infamous “FAQ” news conference that was overshadowed by Councilman Bob Apple, Verner had what may have been her worst few weeks as mayor, including a ‘60-Minutes’-style, chase-down-the-sidewalk-while-the-politician-refuses-to-answer-questions segment that ran on KREM-TV, fresh with a moment when she put a hand over the camera complaining of the bright camera light.

Why Verner lost: Part 2. A volunteer campaign short on cash

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Verner concedes

Just before conceding, Mayor Mary Verner published a scathing comment on Facebook about her opponent’s campaign which she said is a “turning point for the way campaigns are conducted in Spokane.”

“David Condon’s race for a non-partisan local office was woven into a … larger partisan domination strategy with out-of-town consultants, push polls and shrewd positioning of issues in collaboration with media mouthpieces. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the campaigns, while more and more people have fallen into joblessness, homelessness, hunger and despair,” she wrote.

But was this campaign that much different than the other three to elect a strong mayor?

When it comes to the amount of money, no. Dennis Hession raised nearly as much as Condon in 2007. John Powers spent more than Condon in 2000.

When it comes to out-of-town consultants, no. Verner apparently is referring to Stan Shore, an Olympia-based consultant who was hired by Condon. But he also worked in each of the previous three mayoral campaigns on behalf of Hession, Jim West and John Talbott.

When it comes to partisan politics, yes. The state Republican Party’s decision to contribute more than $60,000 to Condon in the final days of the campaign is unprecedented. (And could still lead to an investigation into election rules. A complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission will be considered for a possible investigation after Thanksgiving, PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said Thursday.)

But party involvement in city races isn’t new. Councilman Steve Corker, a Verner supporter, has noted that parties started getting involved in nonpartisan local elections about a decade ago when the Democratic Party assisted Powers, and Tom Keefe, the former Spokane County Democratic Party, chair argues that it was Democrats who worked to turn the Condon-Verner race into a partisan battle.

Allen lead over Rush grows by 6

This post has been changed to correct the change in Allen's lead.

The race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen for Rush's Spokane City Council seat representing the south district remains headed for a recount after the sixth day of counting.

Allen's lead grew by 10 to 98 on Wednesday, but the gap between him and rush remains within a half percentage point. Allen has 50.23 percent of the vote to Rush's 49.77 percent.

There are 268 votes left to count in the race, and most of those are ballots that won't be counted unless the voters come to the elections office to clear up descrepencies with their signature, said Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin. No more counting is expected until Nov. 28. The results will be certified on Nov. 29. If the race remains within a half percentage point, a computer recount would occur early next month, McLaughlin said.

A recount in the Rush-Allen race would be the first computer recount in Spokane County since John Driscoll beat John Ahern for a 6th Legislative District House seat in 2008. That recount changed the tally only by two votes. McLaughlin said the office has completed a couple hand recounts since then for races that were within a quarter of a percentage point, including the 2009 race for Airway Heights mayor.

Why Verner lost: Part 1. Water rates

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Condon correctly predicted outrage was coming on water rates. Even before summer bills were mailed, he began attacking the water rate restructuring. When the bills were opened, he already had defined himself as the candidate who opposed them.

On its face, focusing on sewer rate increases seemed to be the bigger issue since they are going up by higher percentages and they affect everyone equally, and most people actually pay less under the new water rate structure. But most who pay less pay a little less while some who pay more pay a whole lot more. And those people are outraged. (Just ask the people who answer the phones at City Hall.) Also, since the sewer rate increases in large part goes to build systems to keep raw sewage out of the river, focusing on sewer rates may have led savvy opponents to respond: “Mary Verner is working to keep the Spokane River clean while Condon supports dumping raw sewage in the river” — or something like that. Focusing on the water rates came with the TV campaign ad B-roll of pull-on-your-heartstrings footage of children running through sprinklers that sent the message: “These rates are so high your children may not be able to play in the sprinkler anymore, thanks to Mary Verner!”

Then billboards, posted by an anonymous person, were posted with false messages on the rates and even people whose rates had fallen started to believe that they had doubled.

Verner’s response was to point back at the Spokane City Council, which indeed led the process to restructure rates. But she signed the ordinance, and once you sign it, the public usually blames the mayor.

She wasn’t helped by indecision on the City Council about 2012 rates, which kept forcing the issue into the news until it finally made a decision in mid-September.

Allen-Rush contest now within recount margin

The race between incumbent Councilman Richard Rush and former Councilman Mike Allen for Rush's south Spokane City Council seat was sent within recount margins by counting on Tuesday.

Only 92 votes now separate the two, and if the race remains within a half percentage point, it will be recounted by computer. If it gets within a quarter of a percentage point, it will be recounted by hand.

Currently, Allen leads Rush 50.22 percent to 49.78 percent.

There are 369 votes to count. Rush needs to capture about 63 percent of them to win.

Also in Spokane, Proposition 1, the Community Bill of Rights, finally went to defeat on Tuesday. It trails by a little over 1,000 votes. It captured 49.1 percent of the vote. The group that worked to place it on the ballot, Envision Spokane, might consider the neck-and-neck outcome a victory since its first attempt to pass a different Community Bill of Rights was defeated with only 24 percent support in 2009. 

The results for Spokane mayor haven't changed much from election night. David Condon had 52.4 percent of the vote to Mary Verner's 47.6 percent after Tuesday's count.

In Spokane Valley, Ben Wick definitively captured a seat on City Council in Tuesday's count. He leads Marilyn Cline by 360 votes. There are only 364 votes left to count in the race.

Countywide, there are about 2,600 votes left to count.

Wick wins election

The Spokane County Elections Office just released another vote total, putting Ben Wick in the lead against challenger Marilyn Cline in the race for Spokane Valley City Council Position 6 by 360 votes. The County has 1,000 ballots left to count and about 400 of those are from Spokane Valley residents. It is statistically unlikely that Cline could collect enough of those votes to win the seat. Another vote count is scheduled to be released tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Wick increases lead again

As the vote counting continues and Ben Wick keeps increasing his lead over fellow Spokane Valley City Council candidant Marilyn Cline, it now seems safe to say that Wick will replace retiring councilman Bill Gothmann. In the most recent vote count released Monday night, Wick now holds a 354 vote lead over Cline, who campaigned with the Positive Change candidates. On election night Wick's lead was only 20 votes and it has grown steadily since. Wick's election means he will be the only non-Positive Change council member for the city.

In the other city council races, the Postive Change candidates have maintained their election night leads. Dean Grafos, Arne Woodard and Chuck Hafner won new terms on the council. The closest race there was between Woodard and Dee Dee Loberg, who collected 47 percent of the vote.

Another ballot tally is scheduled to be released tonight at 5 p.m. Only 5,000 Spokane County ballots remain to be counted.  

Allen and Rush headed for recount? Prop 1 headed for defeat

A race for Spokane City Council inched closer to an automatic recount on Monday in the fourth day of ballot counting from the Nov. 8 election. Former Councilman Mike Allen’s lead over incumbent Richard Rush for a seat representing south Spokane fell by 17 votes to 135.

There are about 1,143 votes left to count in the contest, and if it tightens to within a half percentage point, an automatic computer recount will occur. Allen currently has 50.33 percent to Rush’s 49.67 percent.

Spokane Proposition 1, the Community Bill of Rights, appears to be headed to defeat after the fourth day of counting. It lost ground and is trailing by 1,013 votes with 2,777 left to count.

In Spokane Valley, Ben Wick’s lead over Marilyn Cline for City Council position 6 grew to 354 votes. There are 1,120 votes left count.

Verner needs all 2,777 remaining ballots … to tie

Mayor-elect David Condon’s lead over Spokane Mayor Mary Verner grew slightly in counting on Monday. He now leads by 2,777 votes. Coincidentally, that’s the same number of votes left to count in the race.

Saturday’s highlights

Ponderosa Elementary fifth-graders Isaiah Gessner, left, and Nick Griep, center, listen to Marine Corps veteran Rex Walter describe his experiences serving his country in the early 1950s. Ponderosa student ambassadors brought veterans from Broadway Court Estates to their school for a Veterans Day assembly Tuesday. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

More election results topped Saturday's Valley Voice as votes continue to be counted. Reporter Lisa Leinberger reported the results for Liberty Lake City Council, mayor and Proposition 1.  The proposition to switch to a city administrator form of government failed and former mayor Steve Peterson is poised to retake leadership of the city.

Fire levies and bonds in the areas around Spokane Valley mostly did not do well. A construction bond in Fire District 13 failed, as did an M&O levy in Fire District 8 and replacement fire levy in Rockford. The only success story was the small town of Spangle, which passed a fire levy and a police levy.

Lisa also wrote a story on her trips to Veteran's Day celebrations at West Valley High School and Ponderosa Elementary School. Recently the owners of Savage Land Pizza sued Spokane County Water District 3 because of a dispute over the installation of a new water main. The East Valley School District board of directors has voted to put a replacement levy on the Feb. 14 ballot.

More election results to come

Sorry for the long pause between posts, but it's deadline day here at Valley Office central and my keyboard has been humming. I've been working on a story on the bond and levy results for Spokane Valley area towns and fire districts for Saturday's Valley Voice, so look for that. There will be another release of vote totals by the Spokane County Elections Office tonight around 6 p.m. I'll try to blog that if I can, but I may not be near a computer. Since tomorrow is Veteran's Day and the County offices are closed, I wouldn't expect another vote total to be released until next week. So I'll either be back here later tonight or on Monday.

Today’s highlights

The Positive Change group on the Spokane Valley City Council appear to be maintaining their control of the council, with incumbents Dean Grafos, Arne Woodard and Chuck Hafner in the lead. The race between Ben Wick and Marilyn Cline to replace Bill Gothmann, however, is still too close to call. More votes will continue to be counted over the next week or two.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a touching story featuring a local couple whose grandson, Marine Lance Cpl. Garrett Gamble, has been honored at the Veterans Memorial at Valley Fourth Memorial Church. The church dedicated the 24-hour, lighted memorial earlier this year.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with an eighth grade class at Horizon Middle School that recently had a chance to chat on the phone with an astronaut on the International Space Station. The Liberty Lake Police Department recently responded to several 911 calls from citizens who saw a man drag a woman across Appleway Blvd. and force her into a car.

Wick lengthens lead

Tonight's updated Spokane Valley City Council elections results show that candidate Ben Wick has lengthened his lead from 20 votes to 105 votes over competitor Marilyn Cline. Results in the other races are largely unchanged. Dean Grafos how has 56.3 percent of the vote compared to 42.6 percent for challenger John Carroll. Arne Woodard now has 51.7 percent of the vote and maintains a slight lead over Dee Dee Loberg.

Verner tells KXLY radio that Zehm, water rate campaign issues ‘don’t have a lot of substance’

Mayor Mary Verner's interview last night with Mike Fitzsimmons on KXLY 920 AM has been making the rounds on Twitter today. And it's worth a listen.

Here's some of what was said. The entire interview is in the link above.

Verner: …I do know that on your radio show you’ve helped perpetuate a lot of misinformation so I’ve been up against a series of unfolding events and a very negative misinformation campaign and I still have a lot of support in this community. So I’m really looking forward to the rest of the ballots coming in.

Fitzsimmons: You sound quite bitter.

Verner: Mike I’ve been on your show quite a few times, and I’ve also listened to some of the things that you have perpetuated on your show. I’m sorry if it comes across as bitter. I’m very disappointed in you.

Fitzsimmons: Well, we’re disappointed in you as well, which is maybe why you’re losing tonight.

Verner: Well, that’s certainly your opinion and you’ve certainly had lots of airtime to express it. ….

(The two argue about how often the mayor has accepted invitations to appear on the show.)

Fitzsimmons: I don’t want to get into it. You’re the one who brought the issue up to begin with. Perhaps you might want to look at water rates, you might want to look at the whole Otto Zehm thing if you’re really looking for the reason why you’re trailing right now.

Verner: Well, I have looked into that and those are exactly a couple of the issues that you’ve kind of put on the block that don’t have a lot of substance to them. But I’m still very pleased with the support that I have ….

Spokane Valley residents voted, but not really

I've been browsing the Spokane County Elections Office web site and noticed something interesting. Thousands of Spokane Valley residents who returned their ballots did not vote in one or more of the city council races. The County keeps track of the number of under votes, which refers to the people who did not vote for any candidate in a particular race.

The under votes for each race (as of Tuesday) are as follows: Dean Grafos/John Carroll, 2,723; Arne Woodard/Dee Dee Loberg, 3,094; Ben Wick/Marilyn Cline, 2.967. A total of 5,172 people did not mark the ballot for Chuck Hafner, who was unopposed on the ballot. In the too-close-to-call Wick/Cline race, those votes could have made the difference.

What seemed to bring people to the polls was Spokane Valley Proposition 1 to determine the fate of one-way Sprague. There were only 435 under votes on that issue.

As of today Spokane Valley voters have returned 26,621 ballots and more will be coming in over the next few days. It looks like just over 17,000 of those have been counted so far. Enough ballots remain to be counted that the results of the Woodard/Loberg race, which has Woodard winning with 51 percent of the vote, could change.

Verner remains hopeful, but her chances are dim

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Mayor Mary Verner addresses supporters on election night
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Verner takes questions from reporters on election night

Here's are Verner's statements to her supporters and repoters last night.

The Spokane County Elections Office has reported that it received nearly 23,000 ballots in the mail today.

There are 22,200 ballots left to count in the City of Spokane. For Verner to make a comeback, she'll need to win 56.4 percent of those votes. That doesn't include ballots the county will get later this week, but Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expects only about 1,000 ballots countywide be in the mail on Thursday.

Verner said her campaign had phone banks and several other late efforts that could turn around her fate. And there is some question as to how voters may have reacted to the late big donations from the state Republican Party. But voters should have already known Condon was a Republican, "nonpartisan" on his signs or not.

Condon had significant get-out-the-vote efforts, and the biggest news of last week, the conviction of a Spokane police officer in a trial in which the federal government accused the police department of a cover-up, does not favor the incumbent.

Positive Change candidates winning

The first numbers are in for Spokane Valley. Proposition 1, which would have changed Sprague and Appleway back to two-way streets, is losing with an overwhelming 82 percent no vote. The incumbents seem to be carrying the night, but the race between Ben Wick and Marilyn Cline is a toss up. Both candidates have just over 49 percent of the vote. Only 20 votes separate the two. Late arriving ballots will decide that race.

Councilman Dean Grafos seems to have won re-election with 55 percent of the vote. Incumbent Arne Woodard collected 51.6 percent of the vote for a smaller lead over challenger Dee Dee Loberg. Chuck Hafner, who was unopposed on the ballot, got 95 percent of the vote. His write-in challenger received 554 votes.

The levy in Spokane County Fire District 8 is also close. So far the yes votes total 50.3 percent of the vote. The bond for a new fire station in Newman Lake Fire District 12 is failing with a 50.3 percent no vote.

Some numbers to pass the time

While we wait for election results I thought I'd throw a few tidbits out there. As of today, there have been 114,332 ballots returned in Spokane County. Just over 21,000 of those belong to Spokane Valley voters, which accounts for 42.9 percent of the registered voters in the city. Other jurisdictions are tallying higher percentages. Millwood is at 45.32 percent. Fire District 8, which has a levy on the ballot, is at 48.28 percent and Fire District 13, which is trying to pass a bond, has 47.81 percent. Liberty Lake is trailing behind at 41.97 percent. A complete list is available here.

However, all those numbers are likely to go up a bit as ballots postmarked by today straggle in over the next few days. Now we just have to wait and see how everyone voted.

Maybe they should go to all-mail elections

This just in from the AP:

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio election board says an employee bit a voter’s nose during an argument over a campaign sign.
Cuyahoga  County elections board director Jane Platten says the board identified the worker for Cleveland police trying to arrest him.
Voter Greg Flanagan says he was bitten Tuesday when went to the aid of a campaign worker in an argument with the election employee over a sign posted near the polls.
The victim had a slash down the left side of his nose. He told WEWS-TV he was hoping his nose wouldn’t be bitten off. He was treated at a hospital.
The election board says the employee had a clean record working eight elections since 2006 but won’t be rehired.
Police spokesman Sgt. Sammy Morris says officers are investigating.
  

Candidates prepare for results

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said she expects only one count of votes tonight.

Results should be released about 8:15 p.m. She said including today's mail, the county has received about 100,000 ballots. About 90,000 of those will be counted in the numbers released tonight.

Dalton said once all the ballots are returned, the county expects to receive between 130,000 and 140,000 ballots. What's not counted tonight will be counted later in the week.

Here's where some candidates will wait for results tonight:

Mary Verner: Taaj Indian restaurant, 128 W. Third Ave.

David Condon, Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori: Barrister Winery, 1213 W. Railroad Ave.

Ben Stuckart: Two Seven Public House, 2727 S. Mt. Vernon St. 

Donna McKereghan: Geno's, 1414 N. Hamilton St.

Richard Rush and Joy Jones: Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean

Mike Padden, campaign headquarters, 10807 E. Montgomery

Jeff Baxter, Luxury Box, 10512 E. Sprague

Stay tuned for election results

Aw, nuts! With winter fast approaching, a squirrel gathers acorns Monday in Corbin Park. SR photo/Colin Mulvany. (I'm posting this photo just because it's so darn cute.)

I'll be hanging around later tonight to get the Spokane Valley City Council election results when they are released at 8 p.m. I will post them on the blog when I get them, along with the results from the Newman Lake Fire bond, the Fire District 8 levy and the one-way Sprague issue. Until then, does anyone have any guesses on who will win?

Condon gets second big contribution from state GOP

Mayoral candidate David Condon over the weekend got another big lift from the state Republican Party.

The GOP contributed $38,000 to Condon’s campaign on Saturday, according to reports filed to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Late last month, the party gave his campaign $25,000.

Condon, the former district director of Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is challenging incumbent Mayor Mary Verner in Tuesday's election. Last week, the executive director of the party said the GOP opted to contribute to Condon to help “take out” Verner to prevent her from challenging McMorris Rodgers in the future.

The late contribution takes Condon’s total tally to $288,000. Verner has raised about $125,000. Independent groups have spent about $26,000 on her behalf.

Most contributors are limited to $800 per candidate per election. But rules enable political parties to give much more. The state Republican Party received several significant contributions from Condon supporters in August, September and October. A Verner supporter filed a complaint with the PDC last week arguing that the party donations violate contribution limits. The state party says it complied fully with the law.

Family not offended by Condon’s critique of city’s handling of Zehm cases

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When David Condon began to publicly criticize Mary Verner's handling of the Otto Zehm case, Verner said Condon's critique was further victimizing the Zehm family "by attempting to elevate himself."

The Inland Northwest Leadership Political Action Committee, which has spent about $25,000 on the mayoral race in support of Verner, has made similar allegations.

"Unfortunately, David Condon is now desperately trying to exploit this tragedy for political gain," says an article on the group's website.

But last week, Breean Beggs, who represents the Zehm family and has contributed money to the Verner campaign, said Zehm family members do not feel exploited or victimized by Condon or other city candidates who have discussed the case. Beggs said that's because they feel that police oversight, training, procedures and other issues surrounding the case are legitimate issues that should be considered by those seeking city office.

 

These were the official statements released by Verner and Condon last week after the verdict:

Verner:

"The jury in the trial was in the best position to render a verdict in this case.  And, we accept their decision. This verdict is only one step toward closure and healing for our community.  I remain committed to completing a thorough internal and external review of all aspects of the case.   Our citizens rightfully require their elected officials to acknowledge mistakes and problems and make changes to avoid them in the future.  That’s what we’re going to do."

"I appreciate your ongoing support of our community, and I am pleased to serve you."

Condon:

"This is a sad day for our city, a slow-motion train wreck … first the indictment, now the trial and verdict, and next the civil lawsuit which may cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It is an indictment of the mayor and her legal team and of the police department, as well as of an individual officer.  My heart goes out again to the family of Otto Zehm with the hope that this sad spectacle can soon be brought to a final conclusion."