Spokane City Council president candidate Cindy Wendle conceded Thursday night after her opponent Breean Beggs extended his lead in the race to more than 500 votes.
Beggs was behind by more than 700 votes on election night but gained on Wendle as more ballots were counted. He took a slim lead Tuesday, and that lead has grown since.
As of Thursday night, Beggs led by 503 votes, 32,311 to 31,808.
Beggs said he and Wendle expressed their support for each other when they spoke Thursday, and he plans to meet with her for coffee to compare notes on the election.
He also thanked his family for their support, and said he looked forward to what he now will be able to accomplish.
“I’ve been gathering the hopes and dreams of so many people and I’ve been thinking of how to put that in play, and now I can do that,” he said.
Beggs is a Spokane City Council member and a civil rights lawyer. Wendle is a first-time candidate who co-owns Northtown Square shopping plaza.
He said he also planned to meet with Mayor-elect Nadine Woodward to get a better understanding of her ideas and discuss how the City Council can work with her when they take office in January. The current council often clashes with Mayor David Condon, has had a historic number of ordinances vetoed and has overridden a historic number of vetoes.
“I’ve always said we get along at least 95% of the time, so there is common ground,” Beggs said. “And if we sit down with mutual respect, we can bridge even that gap.”
Beggs’ victory will preserve the council’s veto-proof liberal majority if incumbent Councilwoman Karen Stratton keeps what was a 311 vote lead Thursday night over opponent Andy Rathbun.
This year’s municipal election was the most expensive in Spokane’s history, with business and conservative groups backing several council candidates, including Woodward and Wendle. The Washington Realtors Political Action Committee spent $620,000 on four more conservative candidates. Wendle received $100,000 more in total contributions than Beggs did.
Wendle faced criticism for an ad that included an unflattering, digitally altered photo of Beggs and for another ad in which she said she no longer recognized Spokane, using stock footage of a homeless camp in Baltimore. In an interview earlier this week, Beggs said those issues may have contributed to his success with last-minute voters.
Wendle wrote in a Thursday evening tweet that she had called Beggs to congratulate him. She also said it had been an honor to run for the office.
“Though I came up just short in votes, I hold my head high at having fought the good fight and finished the race,” she said.
Wendle wrote that her time to “reflect and consider next steps” will come, and she encouraged others to enter public service.
She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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