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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

City Council’s balance could hinge on District 3 race

Call it a race for supremacy at City Hall. A tug of war between the mayor and City Council president.

Just don’t call it boring.

Four candidates are running in Spokane’s northwest district for City Council, the most contested city race on the primary ballot this year. The seat, which Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin is vacating due to term limits, could maintain or help solidify the conservative bent of the current council, which has cast several high-profile 4-3 votes favoring the Republican-leaning members and Mayor David Condon.

Or the seat could flip the equation, giving Council President Ben Stuckart a slim majority of like-minded members.

Whatever happens, the race promises to be one worth watching.

Two candidates, Candace Mumm and Michael Cannon, have raised more than $60,000 collectively, 12 times what the other two candidates have drawn.

And both have strong backing from opposing forces at City Hall.

Mumm, a former TV journalist, spent a decade as the chairwoman of the city’s Plan Commission and has been deeply involved in issues affecting the Five Mile neighborhood.

Like every candidate in the race this year, Mumm says reducing crime is “priority No. 1.”

She points to her support from unions and businesses as an example of her ability to “marshal a lot of groups together.” She said she’d take this to the council to hammer out tough agreements on everything from getting more officers in the Police Department to lowering fire response times to getting sidewalks put in neighborhoods so children can walk to school more safely.

Mumm was the spokeswoman for former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner’s unsuccessful re-election campaign and Rich Cowan’s failed bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Needless to say, she’s not aligned with Condon, who worked for McMorris Rodgers before unseating Verner.

Cannon, however, is.

Condon has endorsed him and donated $500 to his campaign, the mayor’s only donation to a candidate this year. Theresa Sanders, Condon’s city administrator, also endorsed the first-time candidate and donated $1,800 to his campaign.

If Cannon is elected, Condon will gain a like-minded conservative, one who speaks of breaking down “silos” to find efficiencies in government.

As the current chairman of the Community, Housing and Human Services board, Cannon helps allocate public money to struggling families and those in need. Because of his role on the board, Cannon said, he understands the need for social services but thinks the city has wasted money by doing a poor job providing them.

The other two candidates, Curt Fackler and Kelly Cruz, have raised about $2,000 between them.

Fackler, who used to head the local Republican Party, said his name recognition, ideas and personality will win out over better-funded candidates.

“I don’t think you should raise $20,000 to win a primary,” he said.

Fackler said he recognizes that the role of a council member is limited, but he also understands the position as one of influence via the bully pulpit.

The economy, and getting the government out of the way of business, is Fackler’s primary concern. But he also said he’d push for a two-tiered benefit and wage system for public safety employees, argue for an end to sales tax being collected when public entities buy equipment with bond money, and try to convince his fellow conservatives that tax incentives and credits aren’t a cure-all.

Cruz, the former West Central Neighborhood Council chairman, said he’d like to go over every city contract and make sure the city is getting a competitive deal. He said he wants to look into selling land the city owns but doesn’t use, and cut every City Hall employee’s salary over $100,000 by 3 percent. He’d use the savings from both for hiring cops.

But an issue Cruz kept coming back to is the city’s bridges. The proposed bridge in the University District is great, Cruz said, but the money would be better spent rehabilitating Spokane’s crumbling infrastructure, specifically the Post Street Bridge, which has been considered “structurally deficient” by federal authorities for years.

Finally, Cruz said he was unlike other candidates because he’d bring a nonpartisan approach to the council.

“I see our council being divided down partisan lines,” he said. “We don’t need that kind of gridlock at City Hall.”

From left to right, Mumm, Cannon, Fackler and Cruz.