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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Rod Higgins wins close vote to maintain role as Spokane Valley mayor

Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins, left is congratulated by council member Ben Wick during the meeting at Spokane Valley City Hall on Tuesday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins narrowly held on to his position Tuesday in a vote that shows a divided City Council.

In two 4-3 votes, council members selected Higgins to keep the mayor’s position and Councilwoman Pamela Haley to be deputy mayor.

Haley nominated Higgins for mayor and councilmen Sam Wood, Arne Woodard and Higgins voted to secure a 4-3 majority.

Brandi Peetz nominated Ben Wick, with votes from Linda Thompson and Wick. Those three members were elected in November, each defeating a more conservative incumbent.

Higgins, who was selected mayor in 2016, won re-election to council in November by a narrow margin.

The mayor’s main role in Spokane Valley is to lead council meetings.

Higgins was first appointed to City Council in 2013 to fill a vacated seat. Later that year he was elected to a four-year term. Higgins is a former planning commissioner and retired director of the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals.

Higgins wasn’t immediately available for comment on voting results, but he said in a November interview that the construction of Spokane Valley’s new City Hall building was a primary accomplishment during his first mayoral term, along with progress on the “Bridging the Valley” project and expanding the city’s industrial rail park to help spur economic development.

Haley was nominated for deputy mayor by Sam Wood, with votes from Higgins, Woodard and herself to secure a 4-3 majority win against Wick, who was nominated for deputy mayor by Thompson.

Haley, appointed to a council seat in 2016, won re-election by a landslide in November.

Haley said she was open to the deputy mayor position but wasn’t approached by other council members to fill that role.

“I’m a little surprised, but happy,” she said. “My priorities are the same as when I was elected – public safety, smooth roads and to bring good, high-paying jobs to the area.”

Spokane Valley City Clerk Chris Bainbridge administered the oath of office for all five elected council members to serve their respective terms in a ceremony preceding the selection of mayor.

Wick took his seat on City Council Tuesday evening for the first time since winning the election in November against former Councilman Ed Pace, while Peetz and Thompson took their council seats in November.

Wick was first elected to the council in 2011. He lost his re-election bid to Wood in 2015.

Wick is owner and publisher of the Spokane Valley Current and Liberty Lake Splash publications, which he purchased in 2015, and is IT manager at Spokane Industries.

Wick said he’s especially looking forward to working on infrastructure, roads and transportation projects now that he’s back on City Council.

“I’m thankful for the citizens (who voted) and to be part of the Spokane Valley team,” Wick said.