Balance could be the theme to the race for County Commission, District 1, a position vacated by Todd Mielke and held on an interim basis by Nancy McLaughlin.
Do voters want to balance the commission itself, which has three Republicans? Or do they want to keep that strong GOP majority to balance the Democrats’ hold on the Spokane City Council?
Voters have two choices on the Republican side: Josh Kerns and McLaughlin.
Kerns has never held office, but he has worked for hard-line Republicans Reps. Brian Dansel of Republic, and John Ahern and Jeff Holy of Spokane. Kerns says McLaughlin isn’t conservative enough, because she has strayed from the orthodoxy from time to time.
Kerns can’t match the experience of his competitors, and we fear he’d be more ideologue than collaborative leader. He says the county gave away too much in the recent legal settlement with neighborhoods over the Urban Growth Boundary lawsuits.
McLaughlin is conservative, but she is also willing to listen to all sides before making decisions. This thoughtful approach makes her the more appealing Republican in the race. She served two terms on the City Council, which is the limit.
Her experience with as a City Council member gives her greater insights into the challenges facing both the county and the city has they attempt to work together. Though she believes the state’s Growth Management Act is too inflexible, she does not believe the county should seek ways around it. She would abide by the settlement and lobby at the state level for any necessary changes.
Crucially, she does not want to see the county adopt the kind of intrusive workplace regulations the city of Spokane has pursued, such as mandated sick leave. She has not decided how she will vote on the proposed sales-tax increase to improve Spokane Transit Authority service.
Candace Mumm is among the liberals on the Spokane City Council, but she points out that she is also a businesswoman and not a “socialist.” She was a longtime Plan Commission member and chair before being elected in 2013 to the council, replacing McLaughlin.
Mumm would add a dissenting voice to the County Commission, which could help sharpen decision-making. She supports the STA sales-tax increase. She says she’s not against growth, but is for smart growth - the kind where services can keep pace with new developments. She says the county and city need to work better on growth issues, and that school districts must be brought to the table.
One of her top achievements is a sensible city crosswalk ordinance that went beyond merely repainting lines in streets. It has made key intersections safer. She also helped reorient how the city decides which streets to fix. Before it was merely a measure of wear and tear. Now, sensibly, potential economic impact is a key factor.
Mumm and McLaughlin are more experienced and pragmatic than Kerns. We would like to see them advance to the general election.
To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on “Opinion.”
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