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Saturday, June 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

War chests large and small

Several candidates putting their own money on the line in council races

Dean Grafos so far has spent nearly $16,000 to win a seat on the Spokane Valley City Council, more than twice as much as any of the city’s other candidates.

Public Disclosure Commission reports through September showed Grafos’ $15,869 campaign to unseat Ian Robertson was the 42nd-most expensive municipal campaign in the state.

Even so, Grafos was a piker in comparison with Spokane City Council candidates Nancy McLaughlin and Jon Snyder. Snyder has spent $28,994; McLaughlin, $34,948.

And Seattle council candidate Robert Rosencrantz has raised enough cash and in-kind contributions – $206,022 – to pay for all 24 campaigns in Spokane and Spokane Valley and still run a respectable race in Bellevue.

On the other hand, 343 of 595 city council candidates across the state – 57.6 percent – have spent less than $5,000 on their campaigns. Spokane Valley candidates Ed Foote, Ed Pace and Bob McCaslin are in that category.

Candidates don’t have to report fundraising details if they don’t raise or spend more than $5,000 or collect more than $500 from any single donor.

Like Grafos, Pace and Foote are running against Robertson. McCaslin hopes to take Mayor Rich Munson’s council seat while continuing to serve as a state senator.

McCaslin and Grafos are part of a ticket that would overturn the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, among other changes in the city government. Others on the ticket are Brenda Grassel, Tom Towey and incumbent Gary Schimmels.

Grassel is running against incumbent Diana Wilhite, while Towey and Schimmels are running unopposed. Towey is poised to take over the seat Steve Taylor vacated June 30.

In reports available last week, current at least through Sept. 30, Grafos had raised $22,352 and spent $15,869. Robertson had raised $9,280 and spent $4,279.

They and at least two other candidates – Munson and Towey – were running on substantial amounts of their own money.

Grafos lent his campaign $4,700 and donated $1,800 outright. His wife chipped in $2,000 more, for a total of $8,500.

Robertson contributed $4,000 cash and $1,090 worth of in-kind services to his campaign. His son, Stephen Robertson, also contributed $1,000 and his campaign manager, Steve Wilson, threw in $1,000.

Wilhite and Grassel had nearly matched each other’s spending, but Wilhite had more money in reserve.

Much of Wilhite’s money was left over from previous campaigns. She transferred $7,908 of old money into her new campaign last month.

Through early October, Wilhite amassed $12,358 and spent $6,484; Grassel collected $9,514 and spent $6,851.

Grassel, Grafos, McCaslin, Towey and Schimmels have shared several full-page advertisements in The Spokesman-Review’s Valley Voice section.

Munson, Wilhite and Robertson also have shared some full-page advertising.

Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman Lori Anderson said candidates who share advertising are supposed to split the cost evenly unless one is featured more prominently. It’s not clear from their reports how the candidates have divided advertising costs.

Munson had raised $4,827, including $2,090 of his own money, and had spent $4,221 by Sept. 30. Until McCaslin challenged him, Munson had planned to use the “mini” reporting option that McCaslin, Pace and Foote are using.

Towey and Schimmels chose the full-reporting option, which requires cumulative “C4” monthly reports of contributions and spending in addition to “C3” reports within a week of each bank deposit.

Schimmels missed an Oct. 13 deadline to file a C4 report but caught up Tuesday. He reported collecting $3,175 and spending $2,363.

Through September, Towey collected $5,895 and spent $3,998. His contributions included a $2,020 loan from himself.

Candidates are allowed to use other contributions to repay loans from themselves as long as the loans are reported.

A few notable or familiar names show up in the candidates’ disclosure reports.

Retired auto dealer Jack Pring gave $1,250 apiece to Schimmels, Towey and Grassel, and $500 to Grafos. Crown West Realty donated $500 each to Grafos and Schimmels.

Hanson Industries contributed $1,000 apiece to Robertson and Wilhite, while Avista gave $1,000 apiece to Munson and Wilhite.

Avista also donated $500 to Schimmels even though he is allied with Munson’s and Wilhite’s opponents.

City Councilman Bill Gothmann also hedged his bets, giving $100 to Towey and $150 apiece to Robertson and Wilhite. Towey is allied with Grafos and Grassel, who are running against Robertson and Wilhite.

The Spokane County Deputy Sheriffs Association gave $1,000 apiece to Towey and Grassel, and attorney Howard Herman gave $250 each to Towey, Grassel, Grafos and Schimmels.

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