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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Council newcomers may join McLaughlin

Waldref wins open seat; Snyder leads south race

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin checks early returns on Edie Streicher’s cell phone at the Bangkok Thai restaurant on East Trent Avenue. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin checks early returns on Edie Streicher’s cell phone at the Bangkok Thai restaurant on East Trent Avenue. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
By Jonathan Brunt And Alison Boggs Staff writers

Voters in two of Spokane’s three City Council districts appear to want change.

The first results of Tuesday’s election showed Jon Snyder, publisher of Out There Monthly, with a 4 point lead over incumbent Councilman Mike Allen for a position representing south Spokane.

For northeast Spokane’s open seat, Amber Waldref, the development director for the Lands Council, mounted an insurmountable lead over Mike Fagan, co-director of Voters Want More Choices, a group that works to place tax restrictions on the statewide ballot. Fagan was backed by outgoing City Councilman Al French, who will leave the council at the end of this year because of term limits.

“I want to be a presence that is thinking about the future and making decisions that will be good investments to our citizens,” Waldref said from her victory party at David’s Pizza.

Incumbent Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin won a resounding victory in her bid for re-election to her northwest Spokane seat.

McLaughlin’s dominant win over community volunteer Karen Kearney isn’t a surprise. In the August primary, she won all 43 precincts, a feat she repeated Tuesday.

“This kind of win is fantastic and humbling at the same time,” McLaughlin said.

While Snyder’s gap was sizable Tuesday night, it wasn’t big enough to ensure victory. Spokane County election officials estimated that one-third of the final tally will be counted later this week. Allen noted that conservative voters often have cast their votes late (though in the primary it was Snyder who won later counts).

“Obviously, I would have liked to be ahead, but I knew it would be close,” Allen said. “There’s still a lot of votes to be counted.”

In the city’s first election for its new Municipal Court, incumbent Tracy Staab easily held off a challenge from attorney Bryan Whitaker, who argued that city judges should live within city limits. Staab noted state law allows city judges to live elsewhere.

Spokane school board

Two incumbents on the Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors had only slight leads in their battles to maintain their seats. Longtime incumbent Rocky Treppiedi, an assistant city attorney for Spokane, was leading newcomer Laura Carder, a semiretired computer programmer who says creationism should be taught in school, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Incumbent Jeff Bierman, a Gonzaga University professor appointed to the board in 2008, was leading teacher Heidi Olson, 51 percent to 49 percent.

Outlying cities

Voters in smaller cities outside Spokane delivered split verdicts for their incumbent mayors. Cheney Mayor Allan Gainer lost big to former Mayor Tom Trulove. In Airway Heights, Mayor Matthew Pederson led in the first count by only three votes over City Councilman Patrick Rushing. Medical Lake Mayor John Higgins and Deer Park Mayor Robert Whisman easily won re-election.

State representative

South and east of Spokane, Susan Fagan, of Pullman, led Pat Hailey, of Mesa, for state representative in the 9th Legislative District. Fagan is a former aide to three U.S. senators in Idaho. Hailey is the widow of former state Rep. Steve Hailey, who died this year.


Tuesday’s election came down to the wire in City Council races in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. The mayors of both cities coasted to easy victories.

In Post Falls, voters tossed out one incumbent and another held onto his seat by 44 votes. In Coeur d’Alene, one incumbent City Council member won by five votes and another by 29 votes. A third won more definitively in an election that highlighted the urban renewal spending the Lake City has used to revitalize its core.

“It’s definitely not a mandate for the incumbents,” said Dan Gookin, who lost to three-term Coeur d’Alene Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander. “The City Council, I don’t see anything they can crow about as far as the public giving them a total pat on the back.”

First-term Coeur d’Alene Councilman Mike Kennedy beat challenger Jim Brannon with 3,165 votes to Brannon’s 3,160. Only two-term Councilman Woody McEvers won easily, with 53 percent of the vote to challenger Steve Adams’ 47 percent.

Mayor Sandi Bloem beat Joe Kunka and will become the city’s first three-term mayor.

Post Falls incumbent City Councilman Joe Bodman was defeated by challenger Betty Ann Henderson, the wife of Republican state Rep. Frank Henderson.

The council race between incumbent Ronald Jacobson, a bank vice president, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s police chief, Keith Hutcheson, was tight all night, with Jacobson pulling out a 44-vote win. First-term Councilwoman Linda Wilhelm easily defeated challenger Bob Flowers.

Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin took 75 percent of the vote.

Sara Leaming contributed to this report.

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