Two of three candidates challenging incumbent Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Pamela Haley have spent time in jail.
One man, Ingemar Lloyd Woods, has been open about his 1993 arrest in which was accused of shooting at police. The other, Robert “Rocky” J. Samson, remains under court supervision for alleged financial crimes in Kentucky.
Haley accepted an appointment to fill a vacant seat on the council a year ago and promised to run for the seat in the next election.
But she never expected that her position would be the most hotly contested as Spokane Valley goes about filling five open seats from a group of 12 candidates.
“I don’t know how I got the honor of all these challengers,” Haley said. “I think this election is more surprising to me than anything else that’s happened while I’ve been in office.”
Haley has been self-employed for the last 25 years and said she’s glad she waited until now before getting involved in politics.
“It takes more time than most people think it does,” Haley said.
Haley counts among her biggest accomplishments that she voted no on last year’s proposed 6 percent utility tax, and also another no vote on the first proposal for a Barker Road rail crossing.
“The Barker numbers just didn’t make sense and I’m glad I voted no, even though I got yelled at,” Haley said. Now a second proposal came in at a much lower cost, making the project more feasible, Haley said.
Angie Beem, who’s challenging Haley, said it was the presidential election that pushed her into political high gear.
“Trump made fun of a disabled reporter and that pretty much did me in,” said Beem, who uses a wheelchair.
She decided to get involved and became the lead coordinator of the Women’s March in Spokane this spring.
“We got nonprofits to work together, something people say can’t be done,” Beem said. “It was quite emotional.”
She said she decided to run for Spokane Valley City Council because she “can’t stand” the way the council does business.
“They are not transparent, they have personal agendas that are very evident,” Beem said. “The majority is a group together that is just doing its thing. I can’t allow that. I can’t watch the Valley being mistreated like that.”
Ingemar Lloyd Woods is Haley’s second challenger, and he’s also a political newcomer.
Woods was convicted of four attempted murder charges in 1993 when he was accused of shooting at police. He says he was intoxicated when he shot into the air, hoping to end his life. He was sentenced to seven years, and served five in Jackson County, Oregon.
The son of migrant farm workers, Woods received little formal education until he was an adult and freed himself from years of substance abuse.
“I had PTSD, I was so intoxicated, my life was a mess,” Wood said about hitting rock bottom after his last arrest in 2002.
He said his Christian faith combined with secular treatment helped him turn his life around. Since then, he said he has dedicated his life to helping recovering drug addicts obtain education and a normal life.
Woods said he will support anything that will help people get and stay employed, because employment cuts down on crime.
Haley’s third challenger is Robert J. Samson, a Michigan transplant who owns and operates Checker Cab in Spokane Valley.
Samson’s main priority is to regulate ride-hailing platforms Uber and Lyft, which he believes should follow the same rules and regulations as cab companies.
He’s on inactive court supervision until May stemming from a charge of failure to pay creditors, a Class D felony he faced in Kentucky, but said he has never been convicted of a crime. Samson said he was unaware that he owed people money. Under the diversion program he agreed to, the charge will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for five years.
Samson moved to Spokane Valley in 2014 to be closer to a young daughter he now has custody over.
“I will probably stay here for the rest of my life,” Samson said.
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