Saying he wants to shuffle the city of Spokane’s priorities, a state representative plans to make a run for the mayor’s office.
“Spokane has a grand tradition for the last 24 years of having a single-term mayor,” said Duane Sommers, launching his campaign outside City Hall on Thursday. “I think that’s a great tradition.
“You can help me carry that on. You can help me retire Jack Geraghty.”
Sommers is the first to publicly challenge Geraghty for the mayor’s job, which pays $36,000 a year. Geraghty announced his plans to seek another four-year term last week.
Council seats held by Phyllis Holmes, Mike Brewer and Cherie Rodgers also are up for election this fall.
Fixing the city’s streets would be Sommers’ top priority if elected, but he opposes borrowing money for repairs. The council currently is considering borrowing up to $6.2 million to resurface roads.
“I think we need to learn how to preserve our streets, learn how to pay for them out of the budget we already have,” Sommers said.
He’d like to see city staff give council members a list of options for how they could handle an issue instead of recommending a specific action, he said. “I guarantee if I’m elected, I’ll be a strong mayor and you won’t have to change the charter.”
While Sommers favors downtown redevelopment, he said other parts of the city are neglected during the push to improve Spokane’s core. “We lose sight that this is an entire city,” he said.
Sommers, 64, described himself as semi-retired from his health care consulting business.
He launched his political career in 1986, when he won a seat in the state House of Representatives. He stayed there until 1992, when redistricting eliminated his constituency.
He lost a 1992 congressional race to House Speaker Tom Foley and took over as chair of the Spokane County Republican Party in May 1994.
County commissioners appointed him to succeed state Rep. Todd Mielke in November 1995, when Mielke took a job as a lobbyist. Sommers won the 6th District post last fall, but said he’s ready to give up his seat in Olympia for one in Spokane. “I’ve done it for eight years. I’ve tapped about all the experience I can.
“There’s an opportunity here, and I think I can help the city.”
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