Spokane Valley will swear in three City Council members and choose a new mayor Tuesday during their first meeting of the new year.
The City Council chooses a new mayor every other year from among its members. The City Council that will pick the new mayor will look somewhat different than it has. Voters in November chose two more moderate candidates and re-elected a conservative council member, changing the majority from conservative to moderate.
Councilman Rod Higgins, who was re-elected in 2017, was the most recent mayor and presided over his last meeting on Dec. 17.
Councilman Arne Woodard, who is a former deputy mayor, said he anticipates Councilman Ben Wick will be the city’s next mayor.
Woodard said he did not plan to nominate Higgins to retain the post because he likely won’t have enough votes to win. Woodard added that he hasn’t decided whom he would support.
“As much as I maybe should, I have plenty of time between now and Tuesday to think about it,” he said.
In an interview last month, Wick, like three other council members in the new majority, declined to say whom he would support for mayor. But on Friday he said hoped to be picked for the post.
“It’s definitely going to be up to the council as a group, but I would be remiss to say (I’m not) hopeful,” he said.
Wick said he was also looking forward to the projects the council would work on in 2020, including economic development and the city’s railroad grade separation projects.
Council members are each allowed to nominate one person for mayor, though they are not required to, and a council member can decline a nomination if they don’t want to become mayor, according to the city’s governance manual. Council members then vote with a written ballot and have two more chances to vote if there isn’t a clear winner.
If council members can’t agree on a new mayor, the previous deputy mayor temporarily becomes acting mayor. The last deputy mayor was Councilwoman Pam Haley.
Tim Hattenburg is Spokane Valley’s newest council member. He will replace outgoing Councilman Sam Wood, who did not run for re-election, saying it was time to “give someone else a turn.” Hattenburg, a former library trustee and teacher, previously ran for state office as a Democrat against state Rep. Matt Shea, who endorsed Hattenburg’s opponent, local chiropractor Bo Tucker.
Hattenburg said he was looking forward to starting his term and already has been attending ribbon-cuttings and meeting with city staff to prepare.
“It’s going to take a while to know the names and faces, but I’m already impressed by how smoothly things are run,” he said.
Hattenburg, like several other council members, declined to say whom he would support for mayor but said there would be a change in leadership.
Councilwoman Brandi Peetz will be sworn in for the second time after winning a close election with Planning Commissioner Michelle Rasmussen. Peetz, a former 911 dispatcher who served on the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens Advisory Board, first won election in 2017.
Woodard will be sworn in for the fourth time after winning his third election. Woodard was first appointed to the Spokane Valley City Council in 2011, replacing Rose Dempsey, and has won three elections since.
Woodard, a retired real estate agent and former planning commission member, beat accountant Lance Gurel by almost 10 percentage points in the general election. He currently is the longest-serving council member.
New council members will be sworn into office at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Spokane Valley City Hall, and the City Council will choose a new mayor and deputy mayor at its 6 p.m. meeting.
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