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Pam Haley chosen as new Spokane Valley mayor: ‘There’s a lot of work to do’

Jan. 4, 2022 Updated Wed., Jan. 5, 2022 at 10:20 a.m.

Pam Haley is Spokane Valley’s new mayor.

“I feel good,” Haley said. “I think it will be a lot of fun, but there’s a lot of work to do.”

Spokane Valley City Council chose Haley in a 4-3 vote Tuesday.

Council members Rod Higgins, Arne Woodard and Laura Padden – as well as Haley herself – voted for Haley as mayor. Council members Tim Hattenburg and Brandi Peetz, along with former mayor Ben Wick, voted to have Wick serve another term.

Higgins was chosen as deputy mayor with an identical 4-3 vote, succeeding Peetz.

The Spokane Valley mayor is largely a figurehead. Unlike in Spokane, where voters elect a mayor who has broad powers over the direction of city government, Spokane Valley’s mayor is simply one of seven councilmembers. She runs meetings and acts as the face of the city, but her position is largely symbolic with the exception of choosing committee assignments for other council members. 

Wick became mayor in 2020 and his tenure seemed destined to end after Padden beat former Councilwoman Linda Thompson in the November general election.

Thompson, who in 2008 ran for the state Legislature as a Democrat, was part of City Council’s centrist majority and sometimes voted alongside Wick, Peetz and Hattenburg in 4-3 decisions.

Her loss to Padden, who is married to District 4 Sen. Mike Padden (R, Spokane Valley), appeared to shift the balance of power on City Council from the middle to the right. It appeared likely that one of Haley, Higgins, Woodard or Padden would take the council chambers gavel from Wick.

Haley, 64, has served on City Council since she was appointed in 2016. She won election in 2017 and won re-election handily this fall, topping challenger Wayne Fenton by more than 30 percentage points.

Outside of City Hall, Haley has spent much of her adult life running daycares, including Rainbow Connection Daycare in Spokane.

After attending Central Valley High School, Haley graduated from Spokane Falls Community College and Eastern Washington University. She also has a master’s degree in education from Capella University and a business degree from Ashford University.

Haley said there are at least two issues she’d like to focus on tackling as mayor: affordable housing and public safety.

The city needs more low-income housing, she said, adding that she wants to see if the city can use American Rescue Plan dollars to address the affordable housing shortage.

Haley also said the Spokane Valley Police Department, which is part of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, needs more tools and resources.

“Crime is way, way up, violent crime anyway, and I’m not convinced that some of the other crime isn’t also up but people just aren’t reporting it,” Haley said. “I think we need to see what we can do to give our police back some of their power, but within Washington’s laws.”

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