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Spokane Valley council debates new wording for oath of office

Jan. 25, 2017 Updated Wed., Jan. 25, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

It was Spokane Valley resident Terry Gaston who back in September suggested that the city’s oath of office should include a pledge to follow the United States Constitution, even if it meant disobeying orders from a manager.

On Tuesday evening, Gaston was back to listen to the Spokane Valley City Council’s discussion of the new wording for the oath – and he was not happy.

“What you have proposed is the weakest oath I’ve ever heard that still mentions the constitution,” Gaston said. “It’s like the Constitution is just in there as an afterthought.”

City Attorney Cary Driskell presented the proposed wording and said the new oath, when adopted, would be written into the city’s code and be the same for council members and senior staffers.

But Councilman Sam Wood said he was inspired by President Donald Trump’s oath at the recent inauguration, and wanted to change “pursuant to the Constitutions” to “uphold and defend the Constitutions.”

Driskell said he wasn’t certain what “uphold and defend” would mean in legal terms.

“It sounds like you are actively going out there and doing something,” Driskell said.

Wood said he certainly hoped that upholding the Constitution is what he’s doing as a councilman.

But Driskell said he’d need time to research what the change would mean to the city and to council members taking the oath.

Councilman Ed Pace backed Wood, saying he liked “uphold and defend” because it sounded “stronger” than the suggested language. Councilman Caleb Collier agreed.

Gaston read a statement about how the U.S. Constitution is in place to protect the people from government tyranny, and said any type of gun law is unconstitutional.

“We have unconstitutional laws right here on the streets of Spokane Valley,” Gaston said.

The council directed Driskell to do more research and present his findings in two weeks.

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