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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Hopefuls get tips on campaigning, serving

When people think of running for Spokane Valley City Council, topics like personal history, wastewater studies and cold calling for money might not be the first things that come to mind.

But as the experienced political hands who spoke at the Valley Chamber of Commerce “candidate school” attested Wednesday, the personal and financial rigors of the campaign trail should factor into any decision to run.

“If you’re going to get elected, you have to put your heart and soul into it … and your money,” said Spokane City Council President Dennis Hession in front of about a dozen potential candidates, incumbents and council watchers at the Chamber.

All seven council positions will be up for election in November.

Ribbon-cuttings and the highly visible ceremonial duties of elected officials are great, Hession said.

“But they didn’t necessarily elect you to do the ceremonial things … they elected you to make good choices in difficult times,” he said.

Ongoing allegations that Spokane Mayor Jim West used his office for personal gain changed Hession’s perspective of public service.

“I don’t think I could have ever contemplated being in this position,” he said.

Hession and the rest of the council called for the mayor’s resignation two weeks ago.

“You as public officials have the public trust in your hand, and people don’t take that lightly,” he said.

Scandals aside, speakers encouraged those with the skills and commitment to hold public office to run.

“Just do it,” was the advice of Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson. He said that even his unsuccessful run for county commissioner was a great experience.

So far, current Councilmen Mike DeVleming, Rich Munson and Steve Taylor have filed with the Public Disclosure Commission to run again. Filing with the PDC is required after a candidate begins campaigning. The official filing period with the county is the last week in July.

The average cost of a successful Valley council campaign was $7,900 in 2002, according to PDC reports, and past candidates talked about the finer points of raising and spending money.

Chamber associates also discussed ongoing regional issues such as sales tax revenue, the new Valley comprehensive plan and questions surrounding water quality in the Spokane River.

“I’ve got to try to determine how much time I could give before making a decision” on running, said Jim Giles, who attended the class.

Others said they would consider campaign strategies, financial issues and other issues to before running.

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