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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley City Council, position 3

Election Results

Candidate Votes Pct
Arne Woodard 6,843 43.81%
Lance Gurel 3,993 25.56%
Al (Albert) Merkel 3,460 22.15%
Adam (Smash) Smith 1,325 8.48%

* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.

The Candidates

Arne Woodard

Spokane Valley, WA

Why running: “I haven’t lost my passion for making this the best place in the state to live. I still meet with countless numbers of citizens, as well as groups, on a weekly basis to try and solve the issues they have no matter what they are, or help them find the contact they need to try and solve those issues. I’ve lived here all my life, so people know I have huge contact capability. We’re not done with the direction of the Valley yet.”

His pitch: “I have unbelievable experience, not just inside governments, but being self-employed basically for 47 years. I have an incredible amount of what I call life experience in a wide array of subjects that really help with city business.”

Education: Graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1971 and had about a year and half of college classes at Spokane Community College.

Political experience: Woodard has served on the council for nine years and was deputy mayor. He also has served on community boards such as the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

Work experience: Owned real estate business from 1994 to 2018. Previously worked in construction and rebuilding homes damaged by floods or storms. He also has owned a bakery named Backburner Breads, sold bread-making equipment and owned a health food store.

Family: Married. Has seven children and 12 grandchildren.

Lance Gurel

Spokane Valley, Washington

Education: Graduated from Walter Johnson Senior High School in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1966. Attended the University of Maryland for two years but did not finish a degree. Graduated with bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arkansas Tech University in 1996. Graduated with an MBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1998.

Work experience: Has owned an accounting business since 2006. Previously worked as a financial analyst for Florida State University. Worked as financial officer and director of development for Arkansas Tech University from 1995 to 2001. Previously worked as a welder, orchard manager, home rebuilder.

Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Spokane Valley City Council in 2019.

Family: Married. Has five children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Pitch: "I'm running because I think government should be effective, efficient and work for the people, but I reject the idea of tearing government down as small as possible. There are people, both our previous legislators, present legislators and the candidates I'm running against, who just think that government should be made so small that in effect it's too small to take care of the services that we need."


Al (Albert) Merkel

Spokane Valley, WA

Why running: “It’s really about serving the city. Our city is kind of at a crucial time period in our history; our city has about 100,000 residents, which ties us for fourth largest city in the state. The problem is we’re being run like a city of 10,000. Our codes and laws aren’t set up or suited for this kind of city and this kind of demand. There are a lot of decisions and things that are going to come up in the next five to 10 years for council that I think are really important, and I think the council needs somebody with my kind of experience.”

Pitch: “It’s really about expertise on some of these issues. It’s understanding how we can deal with developments, and moving our city to where it needs to be. At the same time, it’s keeping that neighborhood feel, that neighborhood integrity that we’ve all moved to. These are the things my opponents are not looking at.”

Education: Graduated from University High School in 2004. Graduated from Whitworth University in 2009 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, political science and economics.

Political experience: Ran for Spokane Valley City Council in 2017. Is a Republican Precinct Committee officer for Spokane Valley.

Work experience: Currently unemployed. Previously worked for Coordinated Car as a contract negotiator. Worked for Veterans Affairs as a contracting officer and was contracting officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Family: Single.

Adam (Smash) Smith

Spokane Valley, WA

Why running: “I think we need somebody to start connecting our generations so we can move forward with a better guestimation of how people feel in our community. Right now we have such a low number of people who vote, we really are missing the younger people. … They can’t relate to anybody in City Hall, I hope to bring that connection and help everybody feel a little more comfortable when walking around their neighborhoods.”

Pitch: “I have really strong morals and values as far as who I am as a leader. I’m not somebody that just stepped up and am running for this position and started to change my life to be a good person, I’ve already been a community leader for so many years now. What I already do for my work pushed me into this position.”

Education: Graduated from West Valley High School in 2007. Attended Eastern Washington University majoring in business administration for two years, but did not complete a degree. Went to District 9 fire academy. Has structure, wildland firefighter certification and has EMT as well as hazardous chemical certification.

Political experience: First-time candidate.

Work experience: Owns Spokane Valley Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Has worked as a firefighter for Spokane County Fire District 4 since 2015 and previously worked for Spokane County Fire District 10. Worked for J&J Plumbing for seven years, has fought MMA on ESPN and around the U.S. and Canada. Coaches team of MMA fighters. Worked in customer service at Best Buy and worked as front desk agent at the Historic Davenport Hotel.

Family: Single

Complete Coverage

New Spokane Valley detox center appeases neighbors after opposition

A new detox center in the Ponderosa neighborhood of Spokane Valley agreed to install street lights, set up a security system and host a yearly barbecue to win support from its apprehensive neighbors.

Spokane Valley candidates hope for regional approach to homelessness, clash over direction of council

If voters choose challenger Lance Gurel, he hopes to shift the makeup of council to more moderate and more open to new ideas. Incumbent Arne Woodard said Gurel and other more moderate candidates’ proposals go outside of the few essential duties Spokane Valley was founded to accomplish.

Incumbents advance in Spokane Valley City Council races; Woodard’s opponent uncertain

Voters whittled down their choices for three seats on the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday night, but with some votes still to be tallied, the slates for the general election were not entirely clear.

Family of white supremacist murder victims, including Spokane Valley City Council candidate, call for racial equity talk in the city

Lance Gurel, who is one of the candidates running against Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard, said this weekend the impending execution of Danny Lewis Lee shows why the city must face its racial equity challenges. Woodard defended the city’s approach to the question while condemning Lee’s actions.

Spokane Valley leaders clash over racial equity proposal at Tuesday council meeting

A tense and awkward exchange about race emerged at a Spokane Valley City Council meeting Tuesday night, exposing a rift about whether the city is welcoming to people of different ethnic backgrounds and whether it needs to take action to be more so.

Control of Spokane Valley City Council a top issue for two of Councilman Arne Woodard’s primary challengers

Two candidates hoping to unseat conservative Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard say their goal is to shift the balance of power on the council. Former government contract negotiator Al Merkel and accountant Lance Gurel said they more often agree with more moderate members of the council, Brandi Peetz, Ben Wick and Linda Thompson.

Spokane Valley council candidate Al Merkel facing DUI charge after May crash

Spokane Valley City Council Candidate Al Merkel is facing a charge of driving under the influence after he was arrested in May.