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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Challengers Hope Hasson On The Run Both Parties Predict Tough Primary; Hormann Awaits The Winner

It was the eve of the 1992 primary election, and Spokane County Commissioner Pat Mummey was nearly giddy.

Mummey, who died earlier this month, wasn’t on the ballot. But fellow Commissioner Steve Hasson was, and she was cocksure voters would toss her nemesis out of the courthouse.

Hasson couldn’t win against George Cheek, Mummey said.

Hasson won.

Then he won again, in a squeaker of a general election against Republican challenger Jack Hebner.

The lesson learned by pundits: Never count Hasson out.

“Steve is a very good campaigner,” said Hebner. “He understands what it takes to make a winning sort of image.”

Next month, in his first race as a Republican, Hasson will test his political prowess against primary opponents Kate McCaslin and Don Manning. The winner will face Democrat Ron Hormann in November’s general election.

Politicians from both parties say Hasson faces a tough race.

“Kate is a heavy contender,” said county Commissioner Phil Harris, who isn’t making predictions.

McCaslin said a scientific survey paid for by her campaign showed her and Hasson in a race too close to call. Manning and Hormann were far behind, she said.

But that was in mid-May. McCaslin, a Spokane Valley political activist, said she isn’t putting any stock in old data.

McCaslin: Is every bit as conservative as her ex-husband, the popular state Sen. Bob McCaslin, who campaigns as a “tightwad.”

“Taxes and spending - that is probably the issue that brought me into politics and it remains my primary interest,” said McCaslin, whose biggest donors include business owners and groups representing builders.

Her first foray into politics was as a volunteer for Ronald Reagan in 1984. That was followed by volunteer and professional work for other national, state and local Republicans.

The owner of two businesses - she is a caterer when not offering management advice - McCaslin fought a business tax in Spokane. She worked on campaigns pushing the arena, which passed, and the science center, which failed. She worked for Initiate 601, which limited state spending.

Armed with charts showing astronomical growth in county spending during Hasson’s tenure, McCaslin said that if she’s elected she’ll beat the budget into submission.

“Can I sit here today and say, ‘This is where we have to cut … This is what we have to do?’ No. I don’t think that would be responsible,” she said.

Hasson said McCaslin’s figures aren’t fair. Congress and the Legislature demand more of counties, he said, and those demands often come with money that is added to the budget.

McCaslin said she would refuse the commissioners’ pension and automatic pay increases and fight to link raises to job performance.

Manning: A 35-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, Manning said he’s running for commissioner because “I don’t believe government should be for the amusement of cynics and skeptics.”

People laugh at county government partly because of unseemly feuds between commissioners, the sheriff and other leaders, said Manning, who promises to “work for harmony.”

Manning said he is concerned most about public safety. The sheriff’s department is undermanned, he said, and should consider eliminating the DARE anti-drug education program.

“I question the results” of DARE, he said.

He also questions the wisdom of replacing the coroner with a medical examiner, saying the latter is expensive and the former has served the county well despite recent controversies surrounding coroner Dexter Amend.

Hasson lobbied the legislature last year to give county residents the right to vote on the switch.

Manning, who lives on 10 acres in Valleyford, calls for swifter snow removal, and better care for county roads and buildings. The public safety building is in disrepair, he said.

Manning acknowledges other changes he wants will be costly. The money would be there if commissioners insist the assessor’s office becomes more modern, so tax roles are more accurate, he said.

Hasson: Announcing he was switching parties during a radio talk-show appearance last year was just the latest surprise from a man whose antics are Spokane legends.

Courthouse visitors sometimes ask to see the window he jumped through escape reporters after the last election. Footage of the ensuing chase aired repeatedly on the evening news.

McCaslin said Hasson’s brought disrespect to the office. But Hasson doesn’t think most people mind the stunts, which prove “it’s OK to be an elected official and have fun.”

These days, Hasson said, he’s having a lot of fun.

The senior commissioner, Hasson said he’s matured in eight years, learning the importance of compromise and camaraderie among commissioners with ideological differences.

He often is the moderator between conservative Harris and Commissioner John Roskelley, a self-described liberal on land-use and environmental issues.

“I’m finally able to play the role I always wanted to play, and that is a centrist role,” he said. “I love working with these guys.”

Deciding how to spend tax money will be the biggest challenge next term, Hasson said.

In recent months, he has advocated a process he calls “benchmarks,” asking taxpayers through surveys and meetings to decide budget priorities. He also wants to encourage more women to apply for management positions in the county.

Some of Hasson’s staunchest backers are those who want to form a Valley city. His support of that cause led many downtown businessmen to support Cheek in 1992.

Hasson said Valley incorporation is “a predictable outcome” because the county can’t provide the services residents demand.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 Photos

MEMO: These 5 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. COUNTY COMMISSIONER Job description: Spokane County commissioner, representing residents of District 2, which spans the southeastern third of the county, including most of the Valley and part of the South Hill. The three commissioners set policy and oversee the budget and other county business. They serve four-year terms and earn $56,861 a year.

2. STEVE HASSON (R) Resume: 46 years old, born in Spokane … elected Spokane County commissioner in 1988, reelected in 1992 … switched from Democratic to Republican in 1995 … former county sewer program manager, planner, and parks and recreation planner … former carpenter and building contractor … member of several county and regional boards, and the Spokane and Valley chambers of commerce, Spokane Valley Business Association, Citizens League, Valleyfest … past Habitat for Humanity board member … bachelor’s degree in geography and urban planning, Eastern Washington University … married, two children. Lives in Spokane Valley. Finances: Raised $32,019 as of Aug. 27, including $1,000 each from Paul Sandifur, Richard Ryberg, Northwood Properties and Lyle Johnson. Why running:”There are many things that I want to accomplish, and I have the ability to accomplish those things.” Top priority: “Efforts to shift law and justice dollars into preventative strategies.”

3. KATE MCCASLIN (R) Resume: 38, Wyoming native, raised in Spokane Valley … management and public affairs consultant … former director Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. … campaign work for Republican state, local and national candidates, Spokane Science Center and arena, Initiative 601 … vice president Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce … northwest representative Citizens Against Government Waste … member Valley Rotary, First Presbyterian Church … Crosswalk volunteer … bachelor’s degree in animal science, Washington State University; associate’s degree, Spokane Community College; one year Gonzaga Law School … Divorced, no children. Lives in Spokane Valley. Finances: $30,767 as of Aug. 26, including $2,000 from A. Economy Storage, $1,500 from Build East PAC and $1,200 from Donald Jones. Why running: “Because I want to return a sense of responsibility and accountability to county government.” Top priority: “Controlling taxes and spending.”

4. RON HORMANN (D) Resume: 56, born in Kansas, moved to Spokane County at 17 … retired county engineer … member various trade organizations, Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Redeemer Lutheran Church … past-president state association of county engineers…Washington’s county engineer of the year, 1994 … bachelor’s degree civil engineering, Washington State University … Married, two children, one grandchild. Spokane Valley resident. Finances: $15,486 as of Aug. 23, including $550 from Terry Lightfoot, $500 from Robert Turner. Why running: “When I look at future generations, I want to see Spokane maintain its quality of life and get those higher paying jobs.” Top priority on taking office: “Dealing with growth.”

5. DON MANNING (R) Resume: 58 years old; born in Kalispell, Mont., raised in Spokane … retired Spokane County Sheriff’s captain … member Republican Central Committee, Spokane Community College criminal justice advisory board, Union Gospel Mission board of directors, county jail ministries, Valleyford Community Church … past president Local 492 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees … Graduate FBI National Academy, classes at SCC and Whitworth College … married, three children, six grandchildren. Valleyford resident. Finances: Raised $6,511 through Aug. 27, including $1,000 from James and Dorothy Weissenfels. Why running: “Because I believe the citizens of Spokane County are losing faith in the ability of county officials to govern effectively.” Top priority on taking office: “The No. 1 priority is public safety and restoring harmony to the criminal justice system.”

These 5 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. COUNTY COMMISSIONER Job description: Spokane County commissioner, representing residents of District 2, which spans the southeastern third of the county, including most of the Valley and part of the South Hill. The three commissioners set policy and oversee the budget and other county business. They serve four-year terms and earn $56,861 a year.

2. STEVE HASSON (R) Resume: 46 years old, born in Spokane … elected Spokane County commissioner in 1988, reelected in 1992 … switched from Democratic to Republican in 1995 … former county sewer program manager, planner, and parks and recreation planner … former carpenter and building contractor … member of several county and regional boards, and the Spokane and Valley chambers of commerce, Spokane Valley Business Association, Citizens League, Valleyfest … past Habitat for Humanity board member … bachelor’s degree in geography and urban planning, Eastern Washington University … married, two children. Lives in Spokane Valley. Finances: Raised $32,019 as of Aug. 27, including $1,000 each from Paul Sandifur, Richard Ryberg, Northwood Properties and Lyle Johnson. Why running:”There are many things that I want to accomplish, and I have the ability to accomplish those things.” Top priority: “Efforts to shift law and justice dollars into preventative strategies.”

3. KATE MCCASLIN (R) Resume: 38, Wyoming native, raised in Spokane Valley … management and public affairs consultant … former director Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. … campaign work for Republican state, local and national candidates, Spokane Science Center and arena, Initiative 601 … vice president Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce … northwest representative Citizens Against Government Waste … member Valley Rotary, First Presbyterian Church … Crosswalk volunteer … bachelor’s degree in animal science, Washington State University; associate’s degree, Spokane Community College; one year Gonzaga Law School … Divorced, no children. Lives in Spokane Valley. Finances: $30,767 as of Aug. 26, including $2,000 from A. Economy Storage, $1,500 from Build East PAC and $1,200 from Donald Jones. Why running: “Because I want to return a sense of responsibility and accountability to county government.” Top priority: “Controlling taxes and spending.”

4. RON HORMANN (D) Resume: 56, born in Kansas, moved to Spokane County at 17 … retired county engineer … member various trade organizations, Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Redeemer Lutheran Church … past-president state association of county engineers…Washington’s county engineer of the year, 1994 … bachelor’s degree civil engineering, Washington State University … Married, two children, one grandchild. Spokane Valley resident. Finances: $15,486 as of Aug. 23, including $550 from Terry Lightfoot, $500 from Robert Turner. Why running: “When I look at future generations, I want to see Spokane maintain its quality of life and get those higher paying jobs.” Top priority on taking office: “Dealing with growth.”

5. DON MANNING (R) Resume: 58 years old; born in Kalispell, Mont., raised in Spokane … retired Spokane County Sheriff’s captain … member Republican Central Committee, Spokane Community College criminal justice advisory board, Union Gospel Mission board of directors, county jail ministries, Valleyford Community Church … past president Local 492 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees … Graduate FBI National Academy, classes at SCC and Whitworth College … married, three children, six grandchildren. Valleyford resident. Finances: Raised $6,511 through Aug. 27, including $1,000 from James and Dorothy Weissenfels. Why running: “Because I believe the citizens of Spokane County are losing faith in the ability of county officials to govern effectively.” Top priority on taking office: “The No. 1 priority is public safety and restoring harmony to the criminal justice system.”

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