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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley City Council incumbents advance; Thompson-Padden race will be close in November

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 3, 2021

Two Spokane Valley City Council members breezed through their primaries Tuesday and appear well-positioned to hold onto their seats in November, but Councilwoman Linda Thompson’s seat could be in jeopardy.

Thompson always appeared to have a tough challenger in Laura Padden.

Padden, wife of District 4 state Sen. Mike Padden, brings more name recognition and money to the race than anyone running against Thompson’s fellow incumbents Ben Wick or Pam Haley. After Tuesday’s primary election results, it seems Thompson will have to campaign hard if she’s going to stay in office.

Padden won 41% of the vote compared with Thompson’s 36%. Adam “Smash” Smith took 16% of the vote and Renault Patrick Evans earned 7%.

In Washington, the top two vote-getters in nonpartisan primary elections advance to the general election, so Thompson and Padden will be on the ballot in November.

Evans, who had never run for public office, told The Spokesman-Review he’s a centrist who leans to the right. On his campaign Facebook page, Evans says he’s anti-abortion, believes LGBT lifestyles are unnatural and doesn’t think schools should teach sex education.

Smith, a mixed martial arts fighter and owner of Spokane Valley Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, did little campaigning. He said in July that due to surgery on both of his hips he was going to have difficulty running for election.

The Thompson-Padden race will likely be the most hotly contested in November .

It seems likely that Evans voters will switch over to Padden during the general election. The Smith votes may switch to Thompson.

“I would love to have them swing my way,” Thompson said.

Regardless of what Evans and Smith voters opt for in November, it seems highly likely the Thompson-Padden race will be the one to watch in Spokane Valley this year, given the Wick and Haley races probably won’t be so hotly contested.

“I will work hard to earn the vote of the community,” Thompson said.

Padden could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Based on the primary results, Wick and Haley have less to worry about in their bids to remain on City Council.

Wick trounced challenger Brandon Fenton, taking 60% of the vote compared with Fenton’s 29%. Mark McManus and Christopher Ingraham each managed 5%. Wick and Fenton will face off in the November general election.

Spokane Valley has only existed as a city for 18 years, but the 39-year-old Wick has been involved in city politics from the beginning. He ran for the inaugural City Council when he was still a college student and eventually made it onto City Council in 2012.

Wick describes himself as a conservative and is viewed by many as fairly moderate. His fellow council members chose him as mayor in 2020.

Fenton – a high school classmate of Wick’s – said he’s much further to the right than the mayor. He gained publicity last year when his bar, the Black Diamond, stayed open in violation of Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 orders.

A self-described Trump Republican, Fenton said he wants to serve on City Council in order to help Spokane Valley residents resist what he describes as government overreach that has occurred during the pandemic.

McManus dropped out once he saw Fenton was running and encouraged his supporters to vote for the bar owner. Ingraham never responded to The Spokesman-Review’s requests for comments and never campaigned.

Haley faced two challengers during the primary, Wayne Fenton and Mary Butler-Stonewall. A fourth candidate, Pat Stretch, appeared on the ballot, but Stretch died during a climbing accident on Mount Hood in May.

Haley managed to win 48% of the vote compared with Wayne Fenton’s 25%. Butler-Stonewall took home 13% of the vote and Stretch earned 14%. Haley and Fenton will face off in the November general election.

Wayne Fenton, who co-owns the Black Diamond with his son Brandon , said he’s more conservative than Haley. Like his son, Fenton said he was inspired to run for City Council because he wanted to push back against government overreach.

Butler-Stonewall declines to classify herself as either liberal or conservative, but based on her expressed views she appeared to be the default liberal option for voters.

She describes herself as a constitutionalist, and said if elected she would make cleaning up the Spokane River one of her main areas of focus.

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