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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane city voters nearly evenly split on Proposition 1 regarding control of city attorney

Nov. 8, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 8, 2022 at 11:28 p.m.

As the sun sets in downtown Spokane, a pedestrian walks by the entrance of the City Hall building on Oct. 11, 2021.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
As the sun sets in downtown Spokane, a pedestrian walks by the entrance of the City Hall building on Oct. 11, 2021. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Voters in the city of Spokane haven’t come to a definitive conclusion about whether lawmakers should have greater control of City Hall’s attorney.

Proposition 1 was narrowly failing after returns were counted Tuesday. Of the ballots counted, 50.9% voted against the measure, while 49.1% of voters approved. The margin was 841 votes, out of nearly 50,000 counted.

The measure, proposed by City Council President Breean Beggs, would give city lawmakers a say in when the city’s legal counsel was fired, and give them greater say in initiating litigation on behalf of the city.

Beggs, and supporters of the proposition, had argued that under the current system the appointed city attorney had a greater incentive to offer legal advice that favored the mayor’s office. Mayor Nadine Woodward said the proposition was another attempt by the legislative branch of the city to seize power that rightfully belonged with her office under the city charter.

The measure allows both branches of government to hire their own outside legal counsel, a provision that Woodward and proposition opponents said could cost the city additional money. Beggs and supporters argued that the measure would lead to more and better legal opinions that could result in additional revenue for the city.

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