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Spokane Valley incumbent advances

Incumbent Spokane Valley City Council member Gary Schimmels sailed through the primary election and will appear on the general election ballot in November along with opponent Ed Pace. Schimmels collected 34 percent of the vote while Pace garnered 36 percent. There are still some ballots to be counted, but the percentages aren't expected to change much.

It will be a tight race and the key to winning may be attracting the 28 percent of voters who cast their ballot for Loberg. While Loberg may be out of the running this year, don't count her out. “I'll just do it again in a couple years,” she said. “I think I have what the city needs. I'm just going to work harder to show people who I am and what I do.”

Look for a story on the election results in tomorrow's Valley Voice.  

Three candidates try for SV council seat

In today's “in case you missed it” category, we ran a story Saturday that profiled the three candidates for Spokane Valley City Council that will appear on the primary election ballot that will hit mailboxes this week. Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels is running for re-election against opponents Dee Dee Loberg and Ed Pace. Both challengers have previously run for city council and failed. What makes this contest a little more interesting is that the Positive Change group that supported Schimmels in his last election in 2009 have shifted their support to Ed Pace. The two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the November election. Click here to read my story.

Labor coalition declines to back Verner or Condon

The race for Spokane mayor is getting more interesting.

The Spokane Regional Labor Council has released the list of candidates it supports for the August primary and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner isn't on the list.

That's a bit of a surprise given her recent support for a labor-backed change to contracting rules giving the city wider lattitude to pass over low bidders on contracts when a low bidder has had recent problems following labor, environmental or other laws. (Verner, however, surprised some union leaders when she said she would push to amend the rules.)

The council, which is the regional organization for the AFL-CIO, also declined to back any of Verner's opponents, including her main challenger, David Condon. That's not a surprise, given Condon's promise to be a tougher negotiator with unions and his calls for pay freezes at City Hall.

Verner's relationship with unions at City Hall has been mixed and grew strained as she worked to win contract concessions in the last two budget cycles. Most the city's bargaining groups eventually agreed to contracts or contract changes that allowed them to avoid layoffs.

Unions play a large role in city politics, just as the business and development community do. The decision means the main local labor group won't be working for a Spokane mayoral candidate, at least through the primary, an outcome that likely benefits Condon — especially since he already enjoys a big fund-raising advantage.

Beth Thew, secretary-treasurer of the council, said she wouldn't be surprised if the council reconsiders the race after the primary. Candidates were interviewed on June 28 and a group made up of representatives of local AFL-CIO-affiliated unions voted on the endorsements. To win backing, a candidate needed two-thirds support from the group, Thew said.

“If there are any questions that need clarification or anything like that, we will wait to hold off on our endorsements,” she said. “We want to make sure that when we move forward with our endorsement that everybody is comfortable and can stand behind it.”

To see the list of candidates endorsed by the labor council for the August primary, continue reading this post.