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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lisa Brown and Nadine Woodward come out on top in Spokane mayoral primary

Spokane’s choice for mayor in November will be between two high-profile and well-funded women.

Lisa Brown and Nadine Woodward emerged Tuesday as the top two primary vote-getters for the mayor’s office, an outcome largely expected as the two have taken aim at each other on the campaign trail. Woodward will seek to become just the second two-term mayor in Spokane since 1978, and the second straight, after her predecessor Mayor David Condon finished his term in 2019. Brown will seek to parlay a job as head of the state’s Department of Commerce into running Washington’s second-largest city.

Brown had 46.8% of the votes counted Tuesday, and Woodward earned 38.7%.

The November general election will be the second time two women have vied for Spokane mayor in a general election. Vickie McNeill defeated Margaret Leonard for the job in 1985 to become the city’s first woman mayor.

Brown gathered with her supporters Tuesday night at Overbluff Cellars in the Washington Cracker Co. building.

“We deserve an honest conversation about our challenges and an honest debate about how to take them on – not a divisive narrative that claims that this side doesn’t care about homeless people and that side doesn’t care about crime,” Brown told her supporters after the results were announced.

“I ask the voters of Spokane when you think about what the mayor ran on four years ago – homelessness and public safety – has the city really improved in those areas? And if not, it’s time for new leadership,” she said in an interview.

Woodward, as she did four years ago when she defeated then-City Council President Ben Stuckart for the mayoral job, met well-wishers at the downtown Barrister Winery on Tuesday.

“You guys should be really proud about this moment tonight,” Woodward told supporters Tuesday night after results came in, while setting her sights further down the ballot.

“Hopefully, we’ll get more alignment on (the City Council) so we can do the things that I want to be able to do to rectify addiction, to compel people to get the help that they need,” Woodward said.

Downtown has become a focus for both candidates, with each releasing a plan within minutes of each other for improving public safety in the central corridor this summer. Woodward, the most well-funded candidate for the mayor’s office in recent history, already has taken aim at Brown’s record while in the state Legislature in the 1990s and 2000s. Woodward cast her opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal who avoided working with her office to close the homeless encampment along Interstate 90 known as Camp Hope.

Brown has honed in on Woodward’s past four years in the mayor’s office, citing increasing homelessness and poor financial management. She also criticized legal efforts taken by Woodward’s administration to close Camp Hope while state agencies sought housing and jobs for those living there.

The race also included Tim Archer, former president of the local Spokane Firefighters Union, who was running to the right of Woodward and touting an endorsement from the Spokane County GOP. Brown has earned the nod of the Democrats.

Archer received 11.4% of Tuesday’s vote. Patrick McKann, a yurt-maker, earned 2.1%. Kelly Stevens, a city streets worker, had a little less than 1%.

Archer’s vote share was similar to the 2019 primary total for Shawn Poole, another member of the Fire Department who ran against Woodward. Poole quickly endorsed Woodward’s campaign, and Woodward was victorious in that year’s general election by 848 votes.

Woodward’s campaign already claimed that her results, paired with Archer’s, showed she was well-positioned to defeat Brown in November. But Woodward was in the mayor’s office when Archer lost his job for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and his campaign has largely been critical of Woodward’s leadership.

Archer did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment after Tuesday’s returns were announced.

A majority of the primary vote in a race with more than two candidates is generally a good sign for a candidate entering the general election, but not always in contests for Spokane mayor. Mary Verner received 59% of the August primary vote in 2011, a contest that included a total of five candidates. She lost to Condon in the general election three months later, 52% to 47%.

Staff writers Isabelle Parekh, Sam Fuller and Luke Blue contributed to this story.