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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

City Hall Scoop: Lilac Queen as Councilwoman

Steve Salvatori was a fiscal conservative from California. Karen Stratton is a political unknown and lifelong Spokanite. Together, they will complete one term on the Spokane City Council.

Stranger things have happened in Spokane. Like when Stratton was named Lilac Queen in 1977 and posed with Grizzly Adams. Or when Jimmy Marks put a curse on the entire city. Or when Mark Hamilton, who was kicked off the ballot last year in a bid for City Council, compared the politicized nature of Spokane politics to apartheid (which also happened last night).

Regardless, as we detailed in today's Spokesman, the City Council appointed Stratton to the seat left vacant by the resignation of Salvatori, who left the council earlier this year for work in Texas. She will fulfill the final 15 months of his term and run for re-election in 2015.

Keep reading after the jump.

Stratton has been a clerk in the city clerk’s office since 2012, but she first came to City Hall as a senior adviser to Mayor Jim West. She later worked as an assistant to Mayor Mary Verner, who was one of Stratton's three references on her application for the position. Stratton also worked for the Community Colleges of Spokane and Washington State University Spokane, and graduated from Eastern Washington University in 1989.

But as for how the sausage was made in Stratton's appointment, it was simple. Councilman Mike Allen nominated her as Salvatori's replacement, Councilwoman Amber Waldref seconded the nomination, some chitchat commenced from other council members and they voted. Councilman Mike Fagan voted against her appointment, though he said he'd try to collaborate with her if she tried to collaborate with him. Fagan also said he wished Salvatori was around so could "jack him in the head with my elbow," only because Fagan was miffed to be put in the position to replace him because he was such a swell guy. Allen had similar thoughts, saying Salvatori was "my best friend on council, I'm not going to lie about it." Council President Ben Stuckart shared the sentiment, saying, "I wish Councilman Salvatori was here and we weren't doing this."

It all went off with out a hitch, something Stuckart was likely happy about. He had set the bar pretty low at the beginning of the evening when he said that a similar decision some years back took the council 33 votes to decide. As long as it didn't take that long, he'd be happy.

It took one vote, but the public testimony leading to the decision could have led an observer to the conclusion that another candidate, Adrian Dominguez, had the most support. Almost ten folks spoke in his favor. One person spoke in favor of a third candidate, Julie Griffith, and no one spoke for any of the other finalists for the position.

At the end of it all, there was some griping and heartbreak from the other candidates, but Stratton was all smiles. You can read more about her positions and thoughts on issues thanks to a 14-question survey sent out by The Spokesman-Review

In other business, the City Council approved the purchasing of $625,000 worth of new tires for the city's fleet. They re-upped the city's insurance policies for just over $1.4 million. They approved the purchase of new commercial truck scales at the Waste to Energy plant for $450,000. And they established their funding priorities for the Community Development Block Grant, Human Services Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs. 

Lastly, for those of you keeping up with our weekly City Hall Scoop saga, we detailed Stuckart's mild eruption at last week's meeting, when he gavel-ed the meeting to close after attendees began cheering and applauding. He called for a five-minute recess and warned the crowd that another “outburst” would send the rest of the meeting behind closed doors where no one would be allowed to testify.

Well, this week he apologized for his own outburst, saying he hadn't told people of the rules to keep quiet.


Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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