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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: LaVerne Biel the best choice for District 2

LaVerne Biel wants the Spokane City Council to focus on better government, rather than dictating how private businesses should be run.

It’s the chief reason voters in District 2 should choose her to replace Councilman Mike Allen, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Biel believes the rushed-out-then-delayed paid sick leave proposal is a prime example of the kind of lawmaking that creates doubt and mistrust in the business community.

“What’s next?” she asks.

We agree that the council has a tendency to get distracted from the basics of municipal governance. A city with vacancies at the top of public safety and planning should stick to its knitting. Nailing down the ombudsman position should be a priority, too.

Small businesses struggle enough as it is in Spokane. The council shouldn’t add to the burden by copying mandates from wealthier cities. Current and prospective businesses won’t want to operate in an uncertain environment, and they could take their jobs elsewhere. The fact that Spokane is a border city heightens the concern.

Biel is the chief executive officer of a small business in the East Sprague neighborhood. The council would benefit from her viewpoint, especially with the departure of Allen, who provided a countervailing voice.

Biel supported the park and road bonds, and she backs the U-District footbridge, though the cost concerns her. She did sign the “sanctuary city” petition to get it on the ballot. We think it’s a needlessly divisive issue that is yet another distraction.

We like her idea of testing the theory of the Central City Line trolley, by assigning buses to those routes to gauge riders’ interest.

Lori Kinnear served more than six years as a council aide, first with Richard Rush and now with Amber Waldref. She knows the issues cold and has an impressive grasp of the challenges at City Hall.

She points out that she doesn’t see new City Council candidates at city meetings and wonders whether they fully understand the issues.

Kinnear would focus on public safety, particularly property crimes and human trafficking, an issue she says impacts other crimes. She says the city should have named an interim ombudsman, and she wants to “take ownership” of a broken process.

She also wants to be the council’s champion of Smart Justice reforms to ensure that momentum on issues such as drug treatment and sentencing alternatives isn’t lost.

However, she has the backing of labor unions, which raises the concern that she’d hop aboard the regulate-the-workplace bandwagon. A veto-proof council meddling in business practices should concern voters.

To her credit, she does not support Envision Spokane’s dubious proposition for a “living wage” and other intrusions that would likely put the city sideways with state and federal laws.

District 2 is fortunate to have two smart and knowledgeable candidates, but Biel’s business sense makes her the better choice for Spokane.

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