Liberty Lake City Councilman Shane Brickner took an early lead in the contest to unseat two-time incumbent Mayor Steve Peterson.
Early returns posted Tuesday night showed Brickner, a national sales manager for a toxicology lab, with 55.6% of the vote, while Peterson had captured 44.3%. The candidates were separated by 207 votes.
“I’m more grateful than everything for the community’s support,” said Brickner, 44. “It means a lot to me.”
Brickner, who was elected to the Liberty Lake City Council in 2011, argued the city needed to do a better job of developing plans for growth and focusing on its needs before pursuing large-scale public works projects, like a $12 million community center his opponent had backed.
Peterson, 69, was not ready to concede Tuesday night, noting that his opponent in the 2007 campaign initially trailed him but later defeated Peterson by 61 votes.
“We did everything we possibly could,” said Peterson, who is retired from a career in pharmaceutical and real estate sales. “I think one of the things we didn’t do well is social media. That was one of our weak points.”
Peterson had been running on a platform of continuing the growing city’s momentum by attracting new businesses and ensuring a diversity of development. Liberty Lake’s population currently stands at 10,000, but is expected to grow to 16,000 over the next 20 years.
Turnout in Liberty Lake through Tuesday was reported at 36.1%, according to the Spokane County Elections office. That was ahead of the turnout rate countywide, but slightly behind turnout within Spokane city limits.
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