Former state Rep. John Ahern has decided to run for Spokane City Council president, rather than for a district seat.
In a press release this afternoon, Ahern said he would run against incumbent President Ben Stuckart "and his support for job-killing policies."
Ahern, 80, is a former Republican legislator who served five terms in the House of Representatives between 2001 and 2012. He lost the seat to Democrat John Driscoll in 2008, but won a rematch two years later. He ran unsuccessfully for the South Spokane district seat against incumbent Jon Snyder in 2013, collecting about 35 percent of the vote, and had filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission to run for the district's other seat earlier this year.
But a council meeting earlier this year at which Ahern spoke against a city policy that police not ask people about their immigration status may have helped change his mind. Ahern was telling the council that businesses would be wiser to move to Idaho, where there were no laws protecting immigrants or a business and occupation tax, and the crowd cheered despite Stuckart's previous warnings that there be no cheering or booing speakers. Stuckart gaveled the meeting to a close and left the chambers.
"At no time will you see me throw my hands up and walk away from my desk in the middle of a council meeting," Ahern said in his press release.
Shortly before the statement was released, Ahern was contacted by phone about his election plans and confirmed he would run for council president but declined further comment to The Spokesman-Review.
"I'll give you an in-depth interview after I'm elected," he said. "The Review has always been quite negative to everybody that's a Republican."
Well, maybe not quite everybody, considering the paper's editorial page has endorsed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in all of her congressional elections, Rob McKenna for governor and Kim Wyman for secretary of state in 2012, and every Republican presidential candidate since 1900 with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 (he was running as a Progressive that year) and Bill Clinton in 1992.
But Ahern may still be steamed about the newspaper's coverage of his unusual request for a recount after the 2013 council election, when he lost by 5,669 votes and asked for a recount of 1,600 ballots, not enough to change the outcome even if the recount showed they should all have been credited to him. (It didn't.)
He later challenged the bill for the recount, even though it was in the range that County Auditor Vicky Dalton had estimated it would be when he made the request.