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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Condon and Fagan deserve re-election

The Spokesman-Review strongly endorses the re-election of David Condon as city of Spokane mayor, and Mike Fagan as District 1 city councilman.

Condon’s two opponents in the primary are Shar Lichty and Michael Noder, who both fault Condon for neglecting the police ombudsman position since Tim Burns left in January, and the ombudsman commission, which is without a quorum because of dismissals and resignations.

Lichty, an organizer for the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, says Condon’s administration has become top-heavy, and that it discounts the needs of the city’s poor while not aggressively promoting economic development.

Noder, who has run for mayor twice before, advocates small government, and says the city stifles development: “I won’t do business here.”

We share the discontent regarding the ombudsman process, but Condon says the process of naming a replacement for Burns is going well (finalists were announced Friday), and that the commission vacancies are attracting good candidates.

The mayor has reformed the Spokane Police Department, starting with the gracious settlement of the lawsuit filed by the family of Otto Zehm, who died as a result of police actions. He also hired Chief Frank Straub, and together they have implemented use-of-force recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice, work that takes them to a White House Community Policing Forum this week.

The city has hired 25 new officers, and the crime rate is decreasing.

Besides policing, Condon’s other priority was reforming water rates, which began an overhaul of the city’s approach to infrastructure repairs, and how they are paid for.

Instead of consenting to a potential $300 million agreement to eliminate discharge of untreated stormwater into the Spokane River, the mayor’s team developed a plan that coordinates street reconstruction with new water and sewer line installation and other utility improvements. The approach is saving city taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and getting the river cleaned up faster.

Voters affirmed their confidence in the changes by endorsing road and park bond issues in February that, without raising taxes, will continue utility/road work for the next 20 years, and remake Riverfront Park.

We support Fagan not because we share a conservatism that condemns, for example, inoculations – he should not be on the Spokane County Board of Health – but because he has been an extremely hardworking councilman well-connected with his constituency in northeast Spokane.

Fagan, who is sometimes a council minority of one, is a valuable voice for less city intervention in the marketplace; for example, opposing apprenticeship minimums for city construction projects.

Fagan’s challengers are Randy Ramos and Ben Krauss, a police department analyst who will not campaign actively unless he finishes ahead of Ramos in the primary.

Ramos, a first-time candidate, says he wants the city to do more to promote manufacturing, and clean up derelict homes that blight neighborhoods. But the 35-year-old did not cast a vote in an election until April, and was not as familiar with the issues as he should be.

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